Animal mutilation not to be taken lightly

Police are right to be aggressively investigating a case of a cat mutilation recently discovered at Rifle Middle School.

The public should take the matter seriously, too. Research shows that the perpetrators of such kinds of animal torture are more predisposed to later engage in crimes of violence against other people. The public is in a good position to notice animal cruelty and report it to authorities. That could lead to prosecution, punishment and treatment and lessen the chances of greater acts of violence later.

In the March 31 incident, someone put the head of a cat on the flagpole at the school. Investigators couldn’t determine when the cat died, although there was some indication it was dead when it was decapitated.

In the weeks preceding the mutilation, four cats disappeared around the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home in Rifle, with gunshots heard at around the same time; and 29 windows were shot out of the middle school with a BB gun. The same night the mutilation was discovered, at least $2,500 worth of vandalism was done to the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle.

Residents of the Rifle area are the cops’ eyes and ears in cases like these. Perhaps they know of someone who has tortured animals in the past, and might have played a role in this latest crime.

Or maybe they know of a person with a previous bent toward wanton destruction with a BB gun. A tip to police might solve the case of the blasted windows, and open the door to solving other cases that for now are connected only by time.

Meanwhile, police are staking out locations off the clock in hopes of bringing this crime spree to a close. Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner is appropriately giving special attention to the cat mutilation case in particular, given what such activity can mean.

At an extreme, it can indicate a sociopath who goes on to commit murders, sometimes on a mass scale, later. But it also can be a predictor of more common forms of crime, such as abuse against family members.

At the very least, instances of abuse and killing of animals are crimes against innocent creatures, and it’s up to all of us to come to their defense.

– Dennis Webb, News Editor

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