TeachKind Responds to Salem, Oregon, Cat Shooting


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Education has the power to stop violence. That simple message is what TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—wants to convey to Salem-Keizer Public Schools in Oregon following reports that a group of young people was caught on video filming a peer fatally shooting a local family’s cat at point-blank range. The humane educators sent the school district’s superintendent, Andrea Castañeda, an urgent letter today stressing the need for humane education.

Home surveillance footage of the attack shows what appears to be a group of teens gathered around the cat, named Vortex, on the sidewalk outside her home. Another juvenile is then seen approaching and shooting her at close range with a long-barrel gun.

two images, showing 2nd-story surveillance footage still of four apparent teenagers on a nighttime neighborhood sidewalk. one image shows a member of the group pointing a gun at a blurred subject.

text box at the bottom reads: public information sought in animal abuse case: spd tips line 503-588-8477, reference case number twenty four dash 39245

The teens appear to record videos of Vortex as she convulses on the ground before the shooter then fires a second, point-blank shot, killing her. The group dumped her lifeless body in a neighboring yard before fleeing the scene.

TeachKind Offers Salem-Keizer Public Schools Empathy Education Materials

Along with the letter, TeachKind sent the district educational materials, including “Empathy Now,” a guide to preventing violence by young people; “Challenging Assumptions,” which helps secondary students examine discrimination and other social justice issues; and a copy of Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries About Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion by PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, with an offer of a class set of the book for the high school of the district’s choice.

Violence Against Animals Is Only the Beginning

Many abusers first commit acts of violence against other animals before setting their sights on humans.

Sandy Hook Promise includes cruelty to animals on its “10 Critical Warning Signs of Violence” list, and research shows that approximately 43% of school shooters first committed acts of cruelty against animals. That’s why animal abusers pose a serious threat to communities at large.

TeachKind’s resources are easy to integrate into schools’ existing curricula to help prevent future violence.

Youth Violence Can Be Prevented

A rash of youth violence is sweeping through communities, and without educational intervention, there’s no end in sight. As the horrific attack on Vortex—and similar attacks in California and South Carolina—show, it’s vital to teach young people empathy from an early age and to reinforce those teachings throughout their education.

When young people find it amusing to shoot a vulnerable cat and record videos of her agony, that’s a clear sign that humane education is sorely needed. Salem-Keizer Public Schools now has the tools necessary to address cruelty to animals before it happens.

“Compassion can be cultivated,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “TeachKind stands ready to help Salem-Keizer Public Schools teach its students that every sentient being, whether they’re a cat or a classmate, deserves empathy and respect.”

If you are an educator or know someone who is, visit TeachKind.org to download free humane education materials.



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