Too often, cruelty to animals is swept under the rug, as seems to have happened in Making a Murderer, the documentary about Steven Avery, when filmmakers omitted specific details about how Avery, at age 20, doused the family cat with an accelerant before throwing the animal onto a fire. Avery was convicted of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and served nine months in jail for the crime.
Today, the FBI recognizes cruelty to animals as a precursor to further violence and tracks animal abuse like it does homicides. Many serial rapists, serial murderers, and mass murderers have a background of abusing animals, including Albert DeSalvo (the “Boston Strangler”), Jeffrey Dahmer, Dennis Rader (the “BTK killer”), and Columbine school shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. This month, Tennessee became the first state to create an animal abuse registry, and cruelty-to-animals charges can rise to a felony level in most states.
The filmmakers were wrong to downplay the importance of taking cases of animal abuse seriously and did viewers a disservice by glossing over that important information.
What You Can Do
Be a “nosey neighbor.” If you spot someone abusing or neglecting animals, report it immediately, and if local authorities are unresponsive, call PETA.