Kill People But Not Dogs and Cats

From Gene Logsdon

I see [in recent Ohio news] that people are getting arrested for murdering dogs and cats. We deliberately murder  thousands upon thousands of cows and pigs every day so that we can eat meat but oh my, not cats and dogs. We kill people in war every day too, but oh my again, not cats and dogs. Has it been determined by theologians that dogs and cats are suddenly included in the Thou Shall Not Kill commandment? Did the writers of the American Constitution have in mind covering pets too?

Next thing you know, someone will get arrested for killing a mouse. Why not? Does a mouse have any less rights than a cat or dog? How about a rat? A mosquito?  What hypocrites we are. Our pet-worshiping society raises a hullabaloo when a man kills his  dog  but our local humane societies must kill dogs by the thousands every day because pet-worshipers won’t take proper responsibility for their pets and nobody else wants them.

Sooner or later some poor judge will be called upon to decide which living things can be legally killed by humans and which can’t. Mercy, what a can of worms that will open. The judge will have to decide whether or not animals have rights like humans do; or, if they have some human rights and not others, which? And then, where should the line be drawn between which living things are animals with rights and which are animals without rights. If a cat has rights like humans have, why not the fleas on the cat?

What grinds me the most are people who, believing they are being kind to animals, will live-trap the ones that are bothering them and release them out in the country to become someone else’s problem. That is first of all illegal in many places. Secondly, study after study shows that releasing a wild animal into the wild most often is an act of cruelty. (Not to mention the horrendous cruelty of dropping off pet kittens  out in the countryside.)  The wild environment already has a full complement of wild animals, believe me. That’s why they are going to town and  raiding urban backyards, looking for food. Adding, for instance, more raccoons to the countryside  will only mean grave hardship or starvation for the released animal or it will find its way back to town anyway. Or into my barn. People who treat animals this way rather than killing them or taking them to the Humane Society to be killed, are just plain ignorant about nature, or refuse to admit that the food chain requires the constant necessity of death. Thank heavens for our local Humane Societies who do the dirty work of killing these unwanted animals.  But why is it cruel to shoot a dog with a bullet, but humane to kill it with a shot of some chemical?

I once had a very refined and cultured book editor who was very adamant about not killing wildlife. She was horrified when I told her that I killed groundhogs and raccoons that were destroying my gardens. Later she took up gardening. Wasn’t long before she admitted that she understood what I had tried to tell her. She cornered  the groundhog that was systematically destroying her garden and this very refined and cultured woman killed it with her spading fork, the only weapon handy.

This is the  only way I know to change an avid wildlife lover’s view of life and death. Put them in charge of producing some of the food for the world. They can either put an animal and bird proof fence around the entire food producing acreage of the world which not even Bill Gates can afford to do, or they can help nature keep population levels from exploding.

Now all you friends of wildlife can rant at me. I wish you well and I wish you were right.  If raccoons were endangered in any way, I would be the first one to rise in their defense.  We certainly have to avoid cruelty to animals, but, oh my,  it is extremely difficult to define what is morally or immorally cruel. Life is cruel by whatever standard you want to use. I just took my lambs to market, an experience that is always very sad for me. I’ve spent many a cold night keeping those lambs alive and healthy and many a long day guarding them from neighborhood dogs whose owners won’t live up to their responsibility as dog owners. I have enjoyed the supremely pleasant sight of lambs gamboling over the meadow grass. I had the unpleasant task of cutting off their tails so that fly eggs don’t hatch into maggots in the manure that would otherwise cling to the lambs’ tails and literally eat the lamb alive. I have tried very hard to raise lambs in a way that will protect them from internal parasites which is the main  reason they often get loose bowels that bring on the maggot problem. But it is extremely difficult to succeed at raising sheep without internal parasites. Should I not raise lambs because I don’t like docking them? Should I quit raising lambs because they will end up as rack of lamb for rich people who descry the ways we shepherds must use to keep the lambs alive until then?

Should I not get married and have children because in the end we all must die? Perhaps in some idiotic war? Some of the very people who belch bricks at me because I will kill a dog that is killing my sheep support that terribly insane Iraq war and now nod their approval to killing more people in another idiotic war in Afghanistan.

But oh my, we must save our precious dogs and cats so they can die of old age and be buried in animal cemeteries. Did you know there are even live traps for mice now? You trap them and then let them loose away from your property to infest someone else’s house. I wonder how far away we are from spending money on mouse cemeteries while poor people can’t get adequate health care.


There is a new field of criminal investigative techniques being developed – veterinary forensics – to bring more animal abusers to justice. Law enforcement officials are more and more convinced of the link between acts of violence, cruelty, and abuse against animals (pets in particular) and similar acts against people (women and children in particular).

I just read a recent article about this from the NY Times magazine. Here is a brief excerpt. One of the experts cited in the article is from Columbus, OH, where the incident which I referred to in my earlier post occurred.

>>>In addition to a growing sensitivity to the rights of animals, another significant reason for the increased attention to animal cruelty is a mounting body of evidence about the link between such acts and serious crimes of more narrowly human concern, including illegal firearms possession, drug trafficking, gambling, spousal and child abuse, rape and homicide. In the world of law enforcement — and in the larger world that our laws were designed to shape — animal-cruelty issues were long considered a peripheral concern and the province of local A.S.P.C.A. and Humane Society organizations; offenses as removed and distinct from the work of enforcing the human penal code as we humans have deemed ourselves to be from animals. But that illusory distinction is rapidly fading.

“With traditional law enforcement,” Sgt. David Hunt, a dog-fighting expert with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in Columbus, Ohio, told me, “the attitude has been that we have enough stuff on our plate, let the others worry about Fluffy and Muffy. But I’m starting to see a shift in that mentality now.” Hunt has traveled to 24 states around the country in order to teach law-enforcement personnel about the dog-fighting underworld, often stressing the link between activities like dog fighting and domestic violence. “You have to sell it to them in such a way that it’s not a Fluffy-Muffy issue,” he said of teaching police officers about animal-abuse issues. “It’s part of a larger nexus of crimes and the psyche behind them.”

Animal cruelty has long been recognized as a signature pathology of the most serious violent offenders. As a boy, Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of cats and dogs on sticks; Theodore Bundy, implicated in the murders of some three dozen people, told of watching his grandfather torture animals; David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam,” poisoned his mother’s parakeet.<<

John, I wasn’t trying to put words in anyone’s mouth, but I do think Gene took a little blogger’s license when he claimed that “people are getting arrested for murdering dogs and cats.” Of course it is not illegal to murder dogs and cats, it happens every day. (In a strict legal sense, murder only refers to a particular form of homicide, but that is not the nit I want to pick.) However, it is illegal to be cruel to animals. I was laying out the details of a case where I do believe the killing of two dogs was in fact cruel. As I said, I don’t know if this is the case being blogged about, but I think it got a lot of local press.

Louis, where in this post does Gene ever say, “we should tolerate animal abuse”? I agree with you, and Gene too, there’s no room for animal cruelty/abuse in our “civilized” world. No room at all.

The argument here is, most of us have no clue how our human lives on this planet revolve around the death of other animals. I sure don’t. I’ve never butchered my own pig, or chicken, but I’ve eaten plenty of bacon and chicken wings in my life. My guess is the majority of animals I’ve eaten in my life have been treated much more unfairly than Gene’s animals have been treated. It’s sad, I know.

I’m only recently trying to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve been eating a lot more meat from the local farmers markets from grass fed beef and free range chickens. When it’s all said and done, we vote with our wallets. Those of us who read this site are voting. As soon as 300 million people start voting with us, the system will change.

I do not know which recent incident you are referring to, but I googled “Ohio dog killing” and the first item was a news story about a man who shot his two dogs so he wouldn’t have to pay to put them in a kennel while he and his girlfriend went on a vacation cruise. Now of course I realize that animals are killed for meat, and that milk or egg producers get harvested when they are no longer economically viable. I am not against that (although I try to support producers who treat the animals humanely). But if you consider that the moral equivalent of executing a healthy family pet, then I guess we have to agree to disagree.

Back to the particulars of the Ohio case – the man used an illegal homemade silencer on the weapon he used to shoot the dogs while they were chained to a pipe in his basement. He initially lied to the police about why he shot the dogs, claiming that they were ill, but changed his story after the necropsy. He dumped the bodies in the trash behind his place of employment, and described the killing in a text message to a friend, “Well, that sucked! Rose took 2 in the head n 1 in the heart. Teddy wouldn’t (go down). Had 2 hit 8 times. I’m gonna get drunk.” Eleven rounds to kill two restrained, trusting pets?

When a friend sent a message urging him to use a temporary insanity defense (by claiming that he was off his meds at the time of the killing) to beat the criminal charges and to save his career as a firefighter he replied “I won’t get fired. I may have 2 retire with mental disability. That is 100% pay.”

When he thought the source of an anonymous tip to the humane society was a Columbus, OH, police officer, he texted to a fellow firefighter “U realize that there is a funeral in CPD’s future.” Because the threat was vague, and the cop in question never actually heard it, the charges for threatening a police officer were dropped.

This wretched guy plead guilty to animal cruelty and possession of a criminal tool (the silencer). He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, which he can serve in 10 day increments if he finds employment (the fire department has since sacked him). Really, does anyone think that’s too much?

I think this incident shows why we have laws against animal abuse. What happens to the animals is bad enough, but it is a warning about the abuser. There is clear evidence that almost all serial killers have a history of animal abuse and torture. What kind of maniac shoots his dogs, then thinks he will get a full retirement, and fantasizes about killing the cop he thinks ratted him out?

I get your general argument that some folks have their priorities wrong. India has their sacred cows, and we have our sacred cats and dogs, while most of our cows live in miserable factory farms. That doesn’t mean that animal abuse should be tolerated in a good society.

Ken B Can’t argue with you on that. I wrestle with this inescapable dilemma all the time. Gene

I had to smile when Gene mentioned the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With two sons there who have told me stories of whatt they saw Hussein and the Taliban do, it seems to me that people like Gene who condemn war as insane are correct, but are also like the people aghast at the necessary killing of animals. The necessity of war and killing becomes more understandable once you have witnessed the results of two legged predators as well as four legged ones. (Diplomacy and negotiations work with brutal dictators as well as negotiating with a raccoon about the rights of chickens.)

Of course, you can always condemn violence of any kind and simultaneously demand that somebody do something to stop it…somebody else.

Very shortly after reading this post I walked past our television, inside of which one of the characters in the movie exclaimed to the other that her dog, which was just given a piece of meat by the second character, was a vegetarian subsisting on beans, broccoli, and tofu. Good grief is right.

Oh yeah, and I was apparently under the faulty impression that live traps were intended to keep the pest alive until I could kill it. Silly me.

Great column, Gene. Our society has gotten rather out of touch regarding the fact that humans live by the deaths of other creatures, one way or another. To not be aware of this is to be ignorant and sentimental, both of which foster cruelty, including high-tech war and factory farms. This would be a better country if everyone had to butcher his own chickens, at least.

Honey worked for me – the skunk showed up within a day. Though he may have been mildly disappointed when he bit into a wasp nest – thought he was getting a two-fer.

paranoid idot savant: You’re right. that guy deserves to be removed from society. Too bad the dog didn’t get him first.
Kyle: Skunks have been solving our ground wasp over population problem for years. I didn’t know about the honey. Skunks come anyway but maybe honey will bring them quicker.

It is funny how many people think they’re being more humane by dumping the animals somewhere else. I was talking to some friends at work this week when they pointed out they live-trap pests and “take them out to the country”. I pointed out that they’re just taking them out where some poor farmer is going to have to shoot them. They thought the blood would be on the farmer’s hands, but they had to think about it more when I pointed out they were the ones who decided to deliver the animals to the executioner.

Honestly, I think the dog and cat “murders” are usually people who killed maliciously. I’ve never heard of anyone getting in trouble for putting an animal down quickly for a good reason, even in cities. Of course, pulling out a gun in the city is usually illegal, but baseball bats are often as effect and perfectly legal.

The problems come in when someone decides that the neighbor’s animals need to be put down. In that case, they’re supposed to call the police, even though the police really have better things to do with their time. Often pet owners will shape up when they have to pick up their pet at the pound and pay a $100 fine.

paranoid idot savant September 26, 2009 at 6:42 pm

oops–he was convicted twice but had been violent on other occasions and not convicted. also tried to have a witness to the case “silenced” by a local gang. and a slew of other stuff as well. crime was his lifestyle. he needed putting away, good for the judge and jury for doing the smart thing.

paranoid idot savant September 26, 2009 at 6:39 pm

good article- however–a man in calefornia was sentenced recently for beating his ex girlfriend’s cocker spaniel to death, not the first time he beat it either, but this time the poor thing screamed so loud he “had” to kill it with a hammer “to shut it up.” that POS got 25+ years for felony animal cruelty. it was his third strike, he nearly strangled a man to death during a fight, took a tire iron to some other guys after another fight, this was his 3rd felony. and i think it’s dandy that he got arrested for “murdering” an animal cuz he was cruel and violent and had been violent to others, just never convicted. now he won’t hurt anyone else. people who are cruel and violent to animals often hurt people too, and arresting/prosecuting such is 100% appropriate and long overdue, imho.

that said, i have no problem with swift and humane dispatching of food animals and varmints. and good for you, that you give your lambs the best life and care you can before they are humanely harvested for food. beats factory farming.

I found a perfect solution to pests this summer. I had wasp nests popping up underground in many locations close to my house – I didn’t feel that great about poisoning them, but I read that if you pour honey on their entrance, some critter will show up and eat them. And sure enough it did. No more wasps, but now I have a skunk residing under my shed. This has also been attended by a decrease in japanese beetles and an increase in disemboweled rabbits lying around the yard, which I’ve buried under my apple trees.
– When the skunk runs out of food, I’ll just have to find a way to attract a large owl.

DennisP: you say it better than I do. I don’t know that it was any particular thing that set me off. More of an exasperated alarm over the humanization and even deification of pets that has been going on as long as humans have been going on. Only now it’s even more irrational. Well, wait a minute. There was a particular incident recently. A friend called to tell me in utter disgust that someone in his family had just spent $10,000 on some kind of operation (can’t remember the details) to keep his old dying dog alive a little longer. That didn’t bother me in itself (it’s his money) but this fellow was also a loud supporter of the Iraq war and opposed health care reform for poor people.
Desert Rat: I too love my cats. People think because I rail against the humanization of pets that I am a pet hater.
Kelly: thanks for that link. It really is exactly what I was looking for to put in a book I’m writing.
EHR: Oh, I get it. We farmers should stick to farming topics and leave the really imporant issues, like dogs and cats, to smart people like you. Good Grief.

So glad to see your site mentioned over at I posted there that the reason I am where I am, doing what I do is because I picked up a copy of Two Acre Eden, a Storey Bulletin and a discarded Mother Earth News at a church rumage sale a couple of decades ago. I knew then I wanted to live in the country and write for Storey. I now live on my own little Eden, write for Storey and would cheerfully kill the raccoon that ate my sweet corn with my bare hands. I thank you every day I watch the sun come up over my garden.

A city friend recently asked for advice on how to deal with a nuisance skunk that took up residence under their shed. The only “nuisance” being the friend’s irrational fear of getting sprayed. I advocated shooting the critter (swift and humane). Some friends suggested live-trap and relocate the skunk. In jest, I suggested carefully relocating it to the nearest creek and hold it under while counting slowly to 500. Needless to say I was harshly chastised by some really nice, well intentioned, totally naive folk, polite folk, who held me in their regard as pure evil. Stunned by their lack of humor, I quickly retreated, and wished that I’d kept my own counsel.

In my defense I should note that I am not some indiscriminate killer, and take no pleasure in having to dispatch the rare pest that invades our farm. I rather enjoy watching the wild critters that wander about the place, and feel a peaceful coexistance with them.

I find it funny that some would consider, the illegal harrassment and relocation of wildlife, the potential risk of a rabid bite or a stenchful spray to the face, the better alternative to a swift dispatch.

In reality, my squeamish friend should just allow the skunk a wide berth when it is in the near vicinity.

Mr. Logsdon, I applaud you. This article and all of your writings continue to guide, inspire, and reaffirm all the things I know to be practical, contrary, and true. Thank you

Your article is just all over the place. Poor people can’t get “adequate” health care because I take my Labrador for regular check-ups and hope they die of old age?

I can’t care about my pets because I supported the Afghanistan invasion? That makes me a hypocrite?

It’s hypocrisy for me to spend love my pets but hunt and kill soe of my food?

You can’t discern a justification for valuing the life of a car or a dog more than a flea?

There’s no difference between death by bullet and death by injection? (Tell it to the U.S. Supreme Court)

Stick to farming – and leave serious thought to those better equipped to carry it out. Posing “slippery slope” scenarios is not thoughtful.

P.S. if you have so much disdain for your customers (the “rich” people who consume rack of lamb) maybe you should change your line-of-work and do something to help all those poor people get adequate health care. You’d probably be happier – you sound like a grumpy old crank.

Well it was an interesting and rather heated essay, Gene. I’m just curious what it was – what specific incident – that got your dander up. But I agree with virtually all your points. What it really means is that the gulf between city and country keeps getting wider and wider. City folks really don’t understand nature and ecology at all. They get immersed in a moral sentimentality.

Well the basic message is that there is no life without death; that’s just the way this part of the universe is constructed. And each of us has an inherent right to protect ourselves against real or potential threats, no matter how much the legal system in this country tries to deny that.

I’ve got a bunch of squirrels around here that really get to be nuisances. I’ve thought more than once about getting my .22 rifle out, but I’m just too lazy. But I have dead-trapped a bunch of chipmunks and red squirrels. Always thought of them as cute little guys until we moved into the country. Now I think of them as damned nuisances.

Some legislator in Wisconsin a few years back proposed an open season on feral cats. He was hooted and hollered at ’till the cows came home. Wisconsin became a national laughingstock as the cat lobby rose up in righteous fury. Now in the current issue of Audubon magazine, Ted Williams has a pretty heavy article aimed at the population of feral cats and the issue of trap, neuter and release (TNR). I am waiting breathlessly to see all the angry letters to the editor responding to his article.

Yep, you’re right on.

Teresa Sue Hoke-House September 24, 2009 at 6:45 am

Good rant Gene, couldn’t agree with you more. It is always people who don’t have experience/knowledge of something that always think they know better how to do/fix it. Maybe they could give us their address and we could ship all the animals we have to dispose of, to them to take care of. I know I could supply them with at least two gophers, some magpies, a cat that is not right in the head, and bushels of mice. They’ll have to act quick on that offer though, cause time’s running out.

It is nice to read a post like this once in a while and realize that there are sane people around. And yes indeed, the real and figurative “sons of bitches” do have a rather close relationship.

Nice article! You will get a laugh out of this

American expenditures on pet food eclipse worldwide spending on energy research and development.

Ooh, my pet peeve!

I agree we have mixed up our priorities on pets. Now that we have overpopulated the planet with our selves, we also have overpopulated the planet not only with our food livestock [we eat too much meat, it should be at most a meal condiment] but also our pets are overpopulated. Because our lifestyles are so overcrowded we can’t take pet freedoms for granted like we used to do. We used to let our pets run free. But now that is irresponsible.

We used to let our pets reproduce freely but now we need to neuter and spay our pet cats and dogs.

And we need to think about and try to save the wild birds which are experiencing a species die off because of us. They are losing habitat from our sprawl and we are irresponsibly killing them with our pets, mostly cats let out of the house as a non-native invasive species. One cat let out 4x a week can kill over 500 wild birds a year. For shame. The Audubon Society has a position paper on the topic of semi feral pets, worth a read.

And dog owners need to pick up after themselves, how disgusting for the rest of us responsible pet owners to go for a walk and find that shit on our shoes, or worse, eaten by our dogs. Not to mention the ecoli and nitrogen pollution of our rivers and streams.

I also think we spend too much on pet health care while human health care is unavailable to so many.

And humans are not allowed to die with dignity the way our pets can. Strange priorities indeed.

Well you converted me regarding raccoons a short while ago. I live-trapped and relocated five raccoons off my farm to a more sparsely inhabited area about ten miles away. Then I read up and learned that the range of these raccoons virtually guaranteed that they would eventually make their way back to my farm.

Well I should have tagged the ones I released in some way, because I have a hunch the one I dispatched last week was the same big male I transported a month earlier.

In regards to dogs, if I ever have to deal with a marauding dog whose owners refuse to keep him responsibly and who is inflicting losses on my flock, I will certainly observe the Three S Rule–shoot, shovel, and shut up. I am as crazy in love with my cats as some people are in love with their dogs, and I would certainly not want to deal with me, if “I” had killed one of my cats. But then I am one of those rare individuals who has gone to the time and expense to construct a cat-secure outdoor area for my pets, so it should never happen outside of pure malice on someone’s part.

If only the dog owners around me were as considerate…

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