ANIMAL ABUSE INDICATOR OF SERIOUS TROUBLE AHEAD

October 28, 2001 11:00 pm

Oregon prosecutors are seeing an increase in the volume of animal-abuse cases, and a main reason is the states get-tough law on the subject. Its important to crack down on animal abuse because studies show early abuse can be a feeding ground for later crimes against people. Animal abuse now might be a down payment on a ticket to the state prison system later.

Oregon is doing its part to reduce animal abuse. In 1995, the state became one of the first in the nation to make some acts of animal abuse felonies. These acts are when a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly injures an animal, or cruelly causes its death.

What can be done to reduce the incidence of animal abuse? Is better parenting the answer? Of course. More counseling and intervention by bystanders also helps.

Of course, wed be more up in arms if the victims of abuse were humans rather than animals. But what this is all about is respecting the dignity of all living creatures, and preventing future tragedies by intervening early.

What needs to be done? Parents and other adults need to lead with caring and compassionate examples. Parents can pass along strong values. Kids and adults too need to learn conflict-resolution skills.

When we witness episodes of brutality, instead of standing on the sidelines we can intervene firmly and suggest other more appropriate behavior.

PEACE STARTS AT HOME

Just like saving the forest or anything else, peace starts at home. That was the message of former U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield when he spoke to a group of George Fox University students last week.

Too often people seek peace in far-distant countries while ignoring the conflicts in their own neighborhoods. Caring and nurturing begins at home, and it can be extended by giving food and other aid to people everywhere, Hatfield said.

Nationally, America can encourage policies that push corrupt leaders from power, reduce dependence on foreign oil and stop the sale of arms to foreign countries.

But as individuals, what can we do to promote peace at home? What can we do to resolve conflicts? What can we do to discourage hotheads and encourage consensus-building moderation?

Sure, its difficult to concentrate on home here in Northeast Oregon, with all the troubles in New York City, Washington, D.C., Israel and Afghani- stan. But concentrate we must. Anger is not a productive use of energy. In these difficult times, we need to do what it takes to triumph over adversity.

The key point the independent-thinking Hatfield made to the students is to think globally, but act locally. We may not be able to influence national policy. But each of us can come up with an idea to change our immediate neighborhood for the better, and put that idea into action.