From time to time we see reports of judges sentencing animal abusers to work in animal shelters. A recent example is the case of an Alabama man charged in connection with a dogfighting ring who has been ordered to work 100 hours at the Scottsboro Animal Shelter.
I researched the shelter but found very little information online. The webpage seems to indicate that the shelter is run by the police department. There are no statistics posted. There is a confusing claim that the shelter “receives” 160 dogs during the summer and 130 during the rest of the year. I don’t know if they mean the shelter takes in that many dogs per month or if that’s the average number of dogs on hand or something else. At any rate, the place has 9 dogs listed on Petfinder. Cats are not mentioned at all.
I think the general idea with sentencing animal abusers to work in shelters is to aid in the rehabilitation of offenders by teaching them compassion and respect for animals through hands-on work with those most vulnerable in the community. But some people are deeply opposed to the practice, likening the sentence to placing pedophiles in day care centers.
What are your thoughts? Is sentencing animal abusers to community service at a shelter a worthwhile endeavor? Is it perhaps a good idea in theory but not in practice because most of our public animal shelters in fact kill friendly pets instead of treating them with respect? Should convicted animal abusers sentenced to work in shelters be supervised at all times and if so, how might shelters shoulder the burden of providing this direct supervision? Or is this idea just so contrary to common sense that you feel it shouldn’t even be an option for judges?
(Thanks Arlene for the link.)