Last night I watched an episode of 'My Cat From Hell' that was of particular interest to me. Teaching kids to treat their pets with respect.
The episode showed a family with two cats, one that was so laid back it didn't seem to care what the kids did with it. It just flopped about in their arms and allowed them to tip it upside down and one kid ever tried to put it into the refrigerator. Basically, the child treated it like it was a stuffed toy. The other cat, understandably, was terrified of the kids, and scratched and spat whenever anyone reached out a hand toward it--or a foot as one of the children did, threatening to kick it.
My peeve is that some parents don't seem to notice, as was the case with this family. I don't imagine for one second that they would deliberately be unkind to animals. They're just uninformed. The cats or dogs either submit to a life of hell, or rebel, and get sent to the shelter or euthanized because they are considered dangerous.
I commend the cat whisperer, Jackson, for his patience and consideration in this episode, in which he admitted he knew nothing about kids or how to get through to them, but he did, in fact, achieve this. He even took the time to visit the children's school and teach their classmates how to treat animals--what to do and what not to do and how to pet them. By the end of the episode the problem cat had gone through a surprising transformation, and obviously realized the children were no longer going to hurt her.
Writers who do research on psychopaths will often include an episode in which their antagonist does something to hurt an animal, although it is not recommended that you go into any great detail. Readers find it easier to read about people being tortured than animals. Perhaps our empathy for animals comes from their innocence--and the same goes for children. No animal--or child--is born with a cruel and nasty temperament. If they become aggressive, it usually has something to do with the treatment they get from the humans around them.
If ever I visit a home in which children don't seem to understand and have never been taught how to treat animals, I am quick to take them aside and explain to them that animals have feelings too. I hope you guys reading this will do the same.
(I am an incurable animals lover, and always try to include them in my stories. In the Redneck P.I. Series, Twila's rescue dog, Scratch rides on the back of her Harley with her in a special metal basket fabricated by Twila's Pops. In Aquarius Addiction, Arlette Xylander's crazy black cat, Marbles seems to know what's going on when the Voodoo queen performs a ceremony to find out what secrets the old mansion holds in its walls.)