Epidemic:
Kids Hurting Animals

If reports are true that Salvador Ramos (the alleged shooter in the deadly attack on Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas) posted videos of cruelty to animals online and bragged about throwing dead cats at people’s houses before he opened fire on defenseless children or that Payton Gendron (the alleged shooter in Buffalo, New York) wrote about stabbing and beheading a cat and posted photos of the dead animal online, it would come as no surprise to PETA. The FBI warns that harming animals is a sign of more carnage to come. Amid the current epidemic of youth violence, PETA urges everyone to report every act of cruelty against animals and calls on authorities to take each animal abuse claim seriously—for the sake of the animal victims and to help prevent future harm. More lives may depend on it.

PETA keeps an updated list of reported incidents in which young people commit acts of cruelty to animals. Many acts of cruelty go unreported. This resource is meant to illustrate how prevalent the problem is and provide educators with tools to educate students on what it means to have compassion for all living beings. If you aren’t an educator, please share this page with one you know and inform them about TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—and our empathy-building educational resources.

Forty-three percent of perpetrators of schoolyard massacres commit acts of cruelty to animals first (Source)—it’s time for educators to take action by implementing humane education.

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New York

State Laws

New York Consolidated Laws, Education Law–EDN § 809. Instruction in the humane treatment of animals

“The officer, board or commission authorized or required to prescribe courses of instruction shall cause instruction to be given in every elementary school under state control or supported wholly or partly by public money of the state, in the humane treatment and protection of animals and the importance of the part they play in the economy of nature as well as the necessity of controlling the proliferation of animals which are subsequently abandoned and caused to suffer extreme cruelty. Such instruction shall be for such period of time during each school year as the board of regents may prescribe and may be joined with work in literature, reading, language, nature study or ethnology. Such weekly instruction may be divided into two or more periods. A school district shall not be entitled to participate in the public school money on account of any school or the attendance at any school subject to the provisions of this section, if the instruction required hereby is not given therein.” (Source)

Section 801-A. Instruction in civility, citizenship and character education

“The regents shall ensure that the course of instruction in grades kindergarten through twelve includes a component on civility, citizenship and character education. Such component shall instruct students on the principles of honesty, tolerance, personal responsibility, respect for others, with an emphasis on discouraging acts of harassment, bullying, discrimination, observance of laws and rules, courtesy, dignity and other traits which will enhance the quality of their experiences in, and contributions to, the community. Such component shall include instruction of safe, responsible use of the internet and electronic communications. The regents shall determine how to incorporate such component in existing curricula and the commissioner shall promulgate any regulations needed to carry out such determination of the regents. For the purposes of this section, “tolerance,” “respect for others” and “dignity” shall include awareness and sensitivity to harassment, bullying, discrimination and civility in the relations of people of different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, genders, and sexes.” (Source)

Reported Animal Abuse Cases

April 2022/Plattsburgh, New York

PressRepublican.com reported that an 18-year-old was charged with cruelty to animals after he allegedly hurled a cat against a wall, as was apparently captured in a video reportedly posted to social media.

March 2022/Conklin, New York

NYPost.com reported that Payton Gendron—the 18-year-old accused of shooting and killing 10 people in a racially motivated attack in Buffalo, New York, on May 14—had allegedly written about chasing and stabbing a stray cat for an hour and a half, grabbing him by the tail and smashing his head into the concrete floor, and slashing at his neck repeatedly until he was completely beheaded.

September 2021/Auburn, New York

Syracuse.com reported that two Auburn boys were investigated after a cell phone video allegedly showing the torture of at least two kittens was posted on social media.

September 2018/Staten Island, New York

silive.com reported that an Oakwood teen posted a Snapchat video of himself shoving a cat into a toilet, closing the lid, and then flushing the toilet. The teen faces charges for torturing an animal.

July 2018/New York, New York

People.com reported that Bronx residents witnessed a group of teenagers reportedly force a firecracker into a cat’s mouth and light it. The cat, now named George, wasn’t found until two days after the reported incident. Despite extensive injuries, he was expected to make a full recovery.

June 2018/Massena, New York

NNY360.com reported that 20 students had broken into Massena Central High School and vandalized it. They also reportedly threw a large bass into a tank with tropical fish, most of whom were eaten by the bass, and a chicken was left with a severed foot. The school district announced that any student identified as having participated in this incident had been disciplined. The investigation remained ongoing for the school district and the police.

July 2016/Canandaigua, New York

DemocratAndChronicle.com reported that a 16-year-old boy had been charged with cruelty to animals after allegedly killing a goose by throwing a knife at the animal.

May 2016/Albany, New York

Syracuse.com reported that a group of teenagers was suspected of beating numerous porcupines to death. Unfortunately, conservation laws dictate that it’s not illegal to kill porcupines, because they’re considered “nuisance wildlife.” Therefore, no charges were brought.

December 2015/Webster, New York

13WHAM.com reported that a 14-year-old boy had allegedly broken into his neighbor’s home and killed four of her animal companions—shooting one bird and a bearded dragon with a BB gun and crushing two other birds to death with his hands. The boy was reportedly under investigation for the abuse of animals in his own home as well.

July 2015/Buffalo, New York

BuffaloNews.com reported that four teenagers were suspected of torturing and killing a large snapping turtle at a party, using a pitchfork and a baseball bat and then throwing the animal into a fire. Someone allegedly took a video of the attack and posted it on Facebook. The teenagers were expected to face charges.

October 2013/Queens, New York

NYDailyNews.com reported that a 12-year-old girl had been charged with cruelty to animals after allegedly killing a 3-month-old kitten by throwing him in front of a moving vehicle and then boasting that she would do it again if given the chance. The cat, named Little Man, was the animal companion of a local family.