I doubt anyone could have read the story last week about kittens being thrown to their deaths from a speeding car without feeling sick with rage.

I would have thought even those who are not cat lovers, or animal lovers at all, would have found this wanton act of cruelty repugnant.

I cannot imagine what this person thought they were doing. Or why. It is easy to presume their cat produced an unexpected and unwanted litter. That they had failed to protect her by having her spayed – which is a simple and cheap operation, which many charities offer at a dirt-low price to stop this very sort of hideousness taking place.

Sadly, having worked with rescues, I know the truth may not be that simple.

I have seen several animals and know of many more, which have been wilfully and horribly abused. I’ve known pets which have been poisoned by warring neighbours, or been targeted with violence “to teach them not to come in my yard”.

Just the other week, my friend’s 16-year-old cat, Clio, came home dragging her back leg. Fearing she had been hit by a car, Sarah rushed her to the vet only to find the bone had been shattered by a bullet. Clio has since lost her leg. Sarah has no idea who shot her, or why.

Sometimes animals are deliberately abused by the owner, like the crack-smoking son who took the family dog into the countryside and set it on fire, or the puppy I collected from a family, which gave her up for rehoming – after kicking her teeth out.

Sometimes, the abuse has nothing to do with the animal itself – such as the man who emptied a kettle of boiling water on to his girlfriend’s dog because he didn’t like what she had cooked for dinner.

I could go on, but I assume by now anyone still reading will be feeling sick to their hearts.

The other side of this, of course, are the people who open their hearts and homes to these animals. The toothless puppy has a full set of adult teeth and a loving family. She lives near the sea none the worse for her beginnings.

The family who saw the kittens thrown from the car have taken the survivor into their lives and the dog that was scalded found a loving home with an older couple who nursed him back to health.

There is a part of me that hopes the people who committed these vile assaults will meet their comeuppance and be kicked or scalded and understand the pain they inflicted. But justice must never be confused with revenge and what I really want is tougher sentences for those who commit animal abuse and neglect.

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