Citation Fails to Deter Serial Abuser

In June, 24 year old Steven Soukup of NC reportedly backhanded his young Chihuahua so hard that the dog hit the wall, suffering a head injury and seizures.  Mr. Soukup received a citation.  And his dog back.

This month, a vet treating the dog – called Hurley – called AC to report that Hurley had been kicked hard enough to break his pelvis.  Mr. Soukup has been charged with animal cruelty and Hurley is recovering from surgery at the local police department.

Police have not determined why Soukup keeps beating Hurley.

This information may be unknowable, although it’s sorely tempting to toss out theories, especially ones containing multiple curse words.  Perhaps more pressing – at least for Hurley – is why didn’t authorities take the first injury more seriously?  And will Mr. Soukup again get his dog back after this episode of abuse?

20 thoughts on “Citation Fails to Deter Serial Abuser

    1. You are right, it does say he lives with the owner. I missed that bit. Of course we could speculate wildly on how Mr. Soukup treats the person he lives with too…
      The basic point stands – the dog was returned to the home where he was abused only to be abused further. The citation apparently did not impress the abuser.

  1. What the he__ is wrong with people, that type of dog is so small anyway. maybe someone will read this and kick him in the balls………

    1. I presume you mean Soukup and not Hurley. Hurley’s had enough abuse. (Beware the misplaced pronoun/modifier!) :P

  2. My take on it was to suspect, strongly, that Mr Soukup was also beating the dog’s owner, who may well then be too afraid to speak up. It’s not uncommon. If so, I hope that along with taking poor Hurley out of there, authorities helped the owner find sanctuary.

  3. Yes, the authorities need to intervene to protect Hurley’s owner, as well as Hurley, and no, we should not be blaming Hurley’s owner for being the victim in an abusive relationship.

    Threatening or actively abusing the pets is quite common in abusive relationships, sadly, and it makes it much harder for the human victim to take effective action.

  4. I agree that Hurley’s owner must have known what was being done to the dog, but I do not agree that we should not blame him/her even if the latter was also being abused.

    We would not accept this as an excuse if a child was being abused; it is no excuse when a dog or cat is being abused, either.

    Nor is there any excuse, obviously, for authorities to return an already injured dog to an abusive home.

    There have been many cases where both someone in the home and outside authorities were complicit in allowing the abuse of a child to continue. I can’t see any difference here.

  5. No, actually, it’s not typical to charge one victim of abuse for the abuse being inflicted on another victim of abuse by the same abuser. An abusive relationship seriously affects the ability of the abused individual’s ability to take any kind of effective action.

    Someone needs to intervene to protect both victims of abuse, not to shift the blame from the abuser to one of the victims.

  6. For the record, it is merely speculation that Hurley’s owner is also a victim. I have no problem with speculation, just wanted to remind everyone that the article doesn’t give us any indication as to the owner’s status. Possibly the owner is a victim of abuse, maybe complicit in the abuse against Hurley, maybe someone who travels for work and has very little interaction with the dog and is unaware of what goes on in the home… Or none of the above.

    It is well documented that abusers will target the victim’s pet and as a result, more women’s shelters are now accepting pets. They have heard from victims time and again that they could not leave the abusive home because they could not bear to leave the pet behind and/or the abuser threatened to kill the pet if the woman left. But we don’t know if that’s the situation with Hurley’s owner.

  7. I don’t have direct knowledge of how abusers interact with humans and their pets, but I always thought the abuser threatened the other human with harm to the pet to gain compliance.

    As a distant observer it is still shocking a pet owner could require treatment for a seriously injured pet and continue in a relationship with the person who injured the pet. I don’t understand why anyone would assume the situation will not occur again and again. How many times did it occur without requiring professional treatment?

  8. Thanks, but don’t undrestand the relevancy, has there been any indication the owner of the dog has ever been abused by this man?

    And if the human stayed with the abuser because of fear for the safety of the dog, why take it back into the home with the abuser the first time?

  9. There are three basic categories of abuse, which can be thought of as a pyramid–emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Emotional abuse is at the base and always occurs before or along with the other two. Whether or not they found evidence of physical abuse on the dog’s owner, I would bet money that emotional abuse of her occurred prior to and along with the abuse of her dog. Try to imaging living with someone who would do this, someone with no regard for anyone else, human or animal, someone completely self-centered and without the inclination to control himself. Getting at the whole story right away in situations such as this is extremely difficult for reasons outlined in that article. Abusers will threaten, abuse or kill pets to control the people who care about those pets, which is a form of emotional abuse on the person. Was his abuse of her limited to emotional abuse? I sure don’t know, but I would bet not.

  10. To me, the responsibility to protect someone far more vulnerable overrides everything else, including physical terror or emotional attachment to an abuser. This dog weighed less than 10 pounds, about the size of a human newborn. Steven Soukup is an adult male human, 150-180 pounds. He had already inflicted a major head injury on the dog. No matter what . . . the dog should have been protected from him. My view is that this was the responsibility of both the owner and authorities. Although I agree with YB that it would be nice if the owner never saw Soukup again, I have small hope that Hurley will be protected in the future . . . he wasn’t protected in the past.

  11. I just want to make it clear that nothing I said should be construed as condoning the abuse of this little dog or the failure of his owner to prevent it. In a situation like this, the safety of the abused has to be of primary concern. I consider both dog and owner to be abused. If there is a likelihood that she would get back together with that scumbag, then for her sake and the dog’s, the dog should be adopted by someone else.

    1. Valerie, I couldn’t agree more on all counts. I suspect the police department has made a serious mistake in returning the dog to the owner. They sound well-meaning but naive. The reader comments on the follow-up story (thanks, Eucritta) are all over this.

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