What is happening to the animals of Fort St. John? It is extremely upsetting that two dogs may have been burned alive last month. The thought fills most people with anger and disgust.
This is one in a series of similarly disturbing cases. Since the beginning of the year, five dogs and one horse have been found shot. Down the road in Dawson Creek, a dog was encased in a block of ice, a follow-up to a similar act of cruelty involving a cat last year.
In every case the owners are mystified as to who would do this and why, and in every case the public reaction has been the same – anger and disgust.
Without a doubt, the stories that provoke the biggest response from readers are ones where an animal has been mistreated. When people hear that someone would intentionally inflict pain on an innocent animal they become enraged.
That is certainly happening in this case. Since the story was made public it has flown around social media sites and people are focusing their anger on the woman who has been accused of this crime.
Many commenters have pulled together to get the word out about animal cruelty and have even suggested tightening the laws to protect animals better. By channeling their anger, they are working towards the greater good.
Others are calling out such vile behaviour using the most vehement language possible, and that is understandable. Civil discourse does not have to be wiped of all passion to be a vital part of our society, and there is nothing wrong with people expressing their emotions.
Where this crosses the line is when these emotions bubble up into threats of violence. Some people are saying that the accused could be beaten up or burned, and others are suggesting doing it themselves. Certain posters have even asked if any one else would like to join them in committing the crime.
Even more unnerving are the requests for people to release her photo, her phone number, and other pieces of personal information. The inherent threat in these requests is clear.
Whether she is guilty should be determined by 12 men and women or by our local judges, all of whom have a vested interested Fort St. John.
Social media is no place to hold her trial, and someone intent on vigilante “justice” should not determine her punishment.
It is disturbing that the people so enraged by violence towards innocent animals are not concerned with determining whether she is guilty while inciting the same violence against this woman.
Why is it that we show empathy to animals but won’t extend that kindness to people?