For Immediate Release:
February 6, 2024
Sara Groves 202-483-7382
Sussex, Wis. – Following reports that an 18-year-old student reportedly enrolled at Hamilton High School faces a felony charge for suffocating a small dog named Batman with a plastic bag and stabbing him in the chest with scissors, TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—sent Hamilton High School Principal Rebecca Newcomer an urgent letter today, along with kindness-to-animals educational materials, including Empathy Now, a guide to preventing violence by young people. TeachKind is also sending a copy of Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries About Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion by PETA President Ingrid Newkirk to Newcomer and a class set of the book to the high school.
According to reports, the teen was babysitting a 4-year-old child in the home of Batman’s family at the time of the killing. The family’s 11-year-old child found him deceased the next day, hidden under blankets in a bedroom with a plastic grocery bag wrapped around his head and patches of fur missing. The teen apparently admitted to officers that she lashes out when she gets angry and that the child she was babysitting likely saw her kicking Batman.
“When a young person stabs and suffocates a family’s beloved dog in a fit of anger, it’s clear how critical it is to be taught empathy from an early age,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “Compassion can be cultivated, and TeachKind stands ready to help Hamilton High School teach its students that every sentient being, whether a canine or a classmate, deserves empathy and respect.”
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—so animal abusers potentially pose a serious threat to communities at large. TeachKind resources are easy to integrate into schools’ existing curricula to help prevent future violence.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. TeachKind offers free presentations, lessons, and other resources to help teachers add compassion to their curricula. For more information, please visit TeachKind.org or follow the group on Facebook, or Instagram.