Law makers are always in the tough position of having to balance human suffering against animal welfare, knowing the ire that would rise if four feet were treated better than two.
It's very difficult to write about animal welfare issues when there's so much human suffering and injustice in our own state and around the world, but here goes.
I can't accept, nor understand, how a person can put a gun to an animal's head and leave it to die an agonising death.
I'm not talking farmers here. They have a necessary job to do, mid paddock. If you've ever seen a fly-blown sheep, you'll understand the need to put them out of their agony, quickly. I'm talking about we suburbanites who think it's just fine to take the family dog in to the bush and shoot it in the head.
This week we saw the story of Bob, the two-year-old bull mastiff abandoned at Balingup with two bullet holes in his head. Incredibly, thanks to the efforts of Donnybrook vet Cameron Skerman, it looks like he'll live, minus an eye.
Sadly, I'm sure Bob wasn't the only animal treated this way last week.
In my attempt to think the best of people, I'll assume that whoever shot him believed the animal was dead before leaving, but that's not good enough.
It took me back to a case that I covered for The Daily News in 1985. An almost carbon copy. Dudley, the great dane cross, had been shot twice in the head, while tied to a tree. At the time, the maximum penalty for subjecting a dog to unnecessary cruelty was $200 or six months' jail. The dog's owner pleaded guilty and was fined $100. Dudley recovered and was adopted.
Penalties for animal cruelty have increased significantly since then, with the minimum fine now $2000. Law makers are always in the tough position of having to balance human suffering against animal welfare, knowing the ire that would rise if four feet were treated better than two. However, many would argue it's not about the penalty but about the mindset of the shooter who can go through with such an act against, one presumes, a once-loved pet.
People have all sorts of reasons for wanting to get rid of their pets and who are we to judge. But we're not living in the Wild West, we have vets, we have adoption shelters. I'd be surprised if there was a vet out there who wouldn't waive the fee, if necessary, to allow an animal to be put down peacefully and without cruelty.