Serial Animal Torturer’s Guilty Plea Prompts PETA to Push for Empathy Lessons at Alma Mater

For Immediate Release:
October 7, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Kernersville, N.C. – Following 20-year-old Caleb Daniel Dewald’s guilty plea this week to 10 counts of felony cruelty to animals—based in part on video evidence taken during his time at The North Carolina Leadership Academy (NCLA) of various wildlife species being drowned, stabbed, burned, or bludgeoned—TeachKind, PETA’s humane education division, rushed a letter today to The NCLA, providing educators with kindness-to-animals curricula and “Empathy Now,” a guide to preventing all kinds of violence by young people.

PETA provided the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office with some of the video evidence showing Dewald torturing and killing animals. According to the sheriff’s office, NCLA administrators stated that before Dewald graduated in 2020, they had repeatedly been told that he possessed images of animals being “tortured and flayed” and that they had even found a journal containing drawings and confessions of attacks on animals—but the school apparently returned the journal to Dewald and took no adequate steps to address the abuse.

“This man has admitted to spending his teenage years setting vulnerable animals on fire, drowning them, and cutting off their body parts,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “TeachKind is on standby to help his alma mater prevent future killing sprees by teaching young people that all violence is wrong, regardless of the victims’ species.”

TeachKind notes that research shows that 43% of school shooters, including the perpetrator at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, first committed acts of cruelty against animals—so juvenile animal abusers potentially pose a serious threat to the community at large. The group is also offering to send its resources—including its free high school empathy-building curriculum, Challenging Assumptions, and its “Share the World” program kit for elementary school students—to other schools in the area.

TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Facebook or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind