May 25, 2023

For Immediate Release:
May 25, 2023

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Marion County, Fla. – Following reports that police had charged a local teen with felony aggravated cruelty to animals after he shot his family’s dog multiple times with a BB gun—while, as he admitted, she was “just sitting on the porch”—and posted a video of the assault on Snapchat, TeachKind, PETA’s humane education division, sent the superintendent of Marion County Public Schools an urgent letter today, along with kindness-to-animals curricula and Empathy Now, a guide to preventing violence by young people.

“When a young person riddles his family’s dog with pellets in an apparent quest for social media notoriety, it’s clear how critical it is to be taught empathy from an early age,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “Compassion can be cultivated, and TeachKind is on standby to help Marion County Public Schools teach its students that violence is wrong, whether the victim is a canine or a classmate.”

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.

TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. Its other free resources include a high school social justice curriculum (Challenging Assumptions) and the Share the World program kit for young children, both of which it is sending to Marion County Public Schools.

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