Abused pets? No! Abused humans? Meh


The online version of our local fishwrap had a story entitled “Study: People have stronger feelings for abused pets than abused humans.” The study was apparently done by professors at Northeastern University in Boston via the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, but the ASA’s website doesn’t have its conference papers online so I’ll have to presume our newspaper is reporting correctly. Some tidbits:

4482321245_b35bf88ee0_zIn some cases, if a person claims to have been battered, nobody panics. But flash images of battered animals on a commercial, and more often than not that will elicit an emotional response…

“Contrary to popular thinking, we are not necessarily more disturbed by animal rather than human suffering,” said Northeastern professor Jack Levin, who co-authored the study. “Our results indicate a much more complex situation with respect to the age and species of victims, with age being the more important component. The fact that adult human crime victims receive less empathy than do child, puppy, and full-grown dog victims suggests that adult dogs are regarded as dependent and vulnerable, not unlike their younger canine counterparts and kids…”

Levin said … many people have become desensitized to violence and … feel as though adult humans can fend for themselves, while puppies and infants are less capable to do so…

“We have a tendency to express compassion and empathy toward those whom we consider to be in a vulnerable class, such as animals, young children, the elderly and the disabled,” [Julie Lewis, who works with PAWS of Northeast Louisiana] said. “We may feel a sense of guilt that the plight of homeless/battered animals is directly related to the actions, or inactions, of humans. We know that there are some people who have a lack of remorse for dumping elderly animals or litters of kittens/puppies in the country or at dumpsters, left to fend for themselves. Most cannot and die a cruel death.

Planned Parenthood, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, nor NARAL were contacted for comment regarding this story.

I suppose it suggests that the pro-life message may gain a bit of traction in some quarters by showing the parallels between the horrific deaths of millions of unborn children annually to the abuse of animals. It’s certainly not a difficult task to demonstrate that the unborn exhibit the same tendencies and characteristics that make animals worthy of our concern.

If anyone knows of an online version of the paper, I’d enjoy seeing it. Gannett didn’t seem interested in pursuing the abortion angle, though it appears the paper should have some results for children if not the unborn. Let me know in the comments.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

Tim Shaughnessy is a cradle Catholic living in Shreveport, Louisiana with undergraduate degrees in economics and political science from Kalamazoo College, and a Master’s and Ph.D. in economics from Florida State University. He teaches economics at the undergraduate and graduate level, and is a faculty advisor for the campus Catholic student organization. He has worked at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and was the first managing editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality while an undergraduate. He also worked for Representative Harold Voorhees in the Michigan state legislature. He serves the parish RCIA program as a sponsor and lecturer, and is active in parish and diocesan pro-life activities.

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