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Just like people, an animal can be the victim of a bully.

April 9, 2013 - Jenny Rukenbrod
As a noun, the word "bully" is defined as a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. This person can also be known as a ruffian, a pimp or someone habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people. Therefore to "bully" is to use superior strength or influence to intimidate in an effort to get one's own way. Today, it seems a day doesnát go by that there isn't a news story or a seminar on how to identify a bully or its new age sibling, "cyber bullying". Bullying, plain and simple, is a form of abuse. A bully by nature is an abuser. The abuse is meted out in varying degrees and intensities. The recent Steubenville rape is an extreme and violent example. In a community where "pets and people are connected", bullying and abuse do not discriminate. Victims are of all ages, all sizes, all sexes, at every social status and of a variety of species. Victims are targeted for their perceived weakness or helplessness. The following true story exemplifies the reach of an act of mental abuse. A number of years ago, on a very snowy Thanksgiving eve, the humane agent for The Humane Society of Columbiana County of which I am involved, received a call to report animal abuse. While in the presence of his children, a father purposely ejected the family pet, a cat, over a well-known, local bridge and into the creek below. Obviously, the victim was the helpless cat. But there were other innocent victims. This abuser, the father of the children and one-time husband to their mother, was a bully. His actions were meant to intimidate, threaten, coerce and manipulate everyone involved. Should this crime be called animal abuse, domestic violence, child abuse or extortion? It probably qualifies for a check mark in the "all of the above" category. Was this the first time this bully abused an innocent victim? Or instead, is it the first time that he got caught? The helpless cat was the weapon and everyone associated with it were the intended recipients of his message. If you know a bully or have been bullied, take action. Until this learned and arrogant behavior is pre-empted, it will continue. A bystander to a bully is a built-in audience who bolsters the abuser's arrogance and perceived superior prowess. As for the innocent victims in the aforementioned story, there is some good news. The cat was rescued thanks to the compassionate action of the humane agent, without whom, it most likely would have frozen to death. While I lost track of the children and their mother, the abusive father was charged with animal cruelty. Although the penalty is not punitive enough, there was an intervention nevertheless. Hopefully this incident serves as a warning of trouble ahead, a flare that signals future problems unless this learned behavior is âunlearnedã. If not, who will be the next victim?? Will it be a pet or people in a community connected? Jenny Pike


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