Local Schools to Receive Empathy Curricula From PETA After Teen Allegedly Kills Cat Outside Family’s Home

For Immediate Release:
May 21, 2024

Sara Groves 202-483-7382

Salem, Ore.

Following reports that a teenager fatally shot a local family’s cat at point-blank range while his friends watched and recorded video footage of the attack, TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—sent Salem-Keizer Public Schools Superintendent Andrea Castañeda an urgent letter today stressing the need for humane education. The group also sent kindness-to-animals educational materials, including “Empathy Now,” a guide to preventing violence by young people; “Challenging Assumptions,” which helps secondary students examine discrimination and other social justice issues; and a copy of Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries About Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassionby PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, with an offer to provide a class set of the book for a high school of the district’s choice.

collage of AnimalKind cover and Teachkinds Empathy now cover

Home surveillance footage of the attack shows what appears to be a group of teenagers gathered around the cat, named Vortex, on the sidewalk outside her home. Another juvenile is seen approaching and shooting her at close range with a long-barreled gun. The teens appear to record videos of Vortex as she convulses on the ground before the shooter kills her by firing a second shot at point-blank range. The group dumped her lifeless body in a neighboring yard before fleeing the scene.

“When young people find it amusing to execute a vulnerable cat and take videos of her agonizing death, it’s clear that humane education is sorely needed,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “Compassion can be cultivated, and TeachKind stands ready to help Salem schools teach their students that every sentient being, whether a cat or a classmate, deserves empathy and respect.”

Sandy Hook Promise includes cruelty to animals on its “10 Critical Warning Signs of Violence” list, and research shows that approximately 43% of school shooters first committed acts of cruelty against animals—so animal abusers potentially pose a serious threat to communities at large. TeachKind resources are easy to integrate into schools’ existing curricula to help prevent future violence.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. TeachKind offers free presentations, lessons, and other resources to help teachers add compassion to their curricula. For more information, please visit TeachKind.org or follow the group on Facebook or Instagram.

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