Why does animal neglect and cruelty break our hearts? Matt's Memo

You could count the ribs on the side of the dog. Her skin sagged with little flesh to support it. The skeletal photo appeared on my Facebook feed late this afternoon. I immediately wondered if it was an actual current case of neglect and abuse. I hoped it was a stock photo that had made the rounds online. My hopes were dashed when I contacted the Stevens Swan Humane Association and the staff confirmed this three year old boxer mix had been found on the streets of Utica this morning.

The Utica Police did not know who owned the dog. They needed the public's help. So I posted the story and the picture on Then the sharing began. The alert went out via our mobile app. The commenting exploded on every forum the story touched. People were stunned, angry and demanding justice.

The response to a story of animal cruelty like this is predictably passionate. The innocence of animals, their defenseless nature and their dependence on humans for adequate survival illicits near universal compassion among people. Our own readers have a strong handle on why the reaction comes in unison.

On our Facebook page Kristie wrote: "I think it attracts such outrage because it's one of the few topics that everyone seems to agree on. It's not political or religious in nature." James said: "To see them not just neglected but abused like this is about as damning a commentary on humans as there can be."

I've talked to prosecutors before about the response to animal abuse cases. They say it is stronger and more vocal than even violent crimes against people, even children.

Speaking of children, Victoria Sutton told us on our CNYCentral Facebook page that her nine year old daughter started to cry when she saw the photo of the starving dog. Victoria shared the words of her 5th grader: "whoever did that to that poor doggie should be put in jail for a very long time, because they're a criminal just like all the other.people in jail. That doggie didn't want anything but to be safe and loved, and it didn't get either."

Any questions or comment please forward them to I may even use some of your thoughts on NBC 3 News at 5:00, the 10:00 News on CW6 or on

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