If reports are true that Uvalde shooter Salvador Ramos appeared in videos holding a bag of dead cats before he opened fire on defenseless children, it would come as no surprise to PETA. The FBI has identified cruelty to animals as a warning sign of more violence to come, and amid an epidemic of youth violence, PETA urges everyone to report every act of cruelty and calls on authorities to take every animal abuse claim seriously—for the sake of the animal victims and the many other lives that may depend on it.
— New York Post (@nypost) May 30, 2022
In just the past few weeks, the media have covered cases of similar youth violence toward animals.
Teens in Colorado allegedly flushed a live squirrel down a toilet, a Tennessee teen reportedly posted a video of another teen beating a dog to death, and in Florida, a group of students allegedly gutted a shark and hung the animal from the school rafters. In each of these cases, TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—contacted local school districts in order to provide them with our compassion-building curricula.
Many school shooters and serial killers have a history of abusing animals.
Payton S. Gendron—the 18-year-old accused of fatally shooting 10 people in the racially motivated shooting spree in Buffalo, New York—reportedly had a history of violence toward animals. Prior to the shooting, he allegedly wrote in an online journal entry about chasing and stabbing a homeless cat for an hour and a half, grabbing him by the tail, smashing his head into a concrete floor, and slashing at his neck repeatedly until he was completely beheaded.
Oxford, Michigan, school shooter Ethan Crumbley reportedly tortured animals, once “leaving a baby bird’s head in a jar on his bedroom floor, which he later took and placed in a school bathroom.”
Parkland, Florida, school shooter Nikolas Cruz is said to have talked about using animals, including lizards, squirrels, frogs, and a neighbor’s chickens, for target practice before he massacred 17 people at his former high school. He also reportedly sent his dog to a neighbor’s house to attack the pigs there.
Youth violence toward animals is a prevalent issue, and educators have the unique opportunity to help students develop compassion for all animals—including humans—and detect early warning signs of violence before it takes place.
Every single case of cruelty to animals needs to be taken seriously. Many lives may depend on it.