To: Secretary of Defense Leon Edward Panetta
From: Hope Bohanec, In Defense of Animals
Submitted by fax: (703) 571-8951
December 13, 2011
On behalf of our 100,000 members worldwide, In Defense of Animals (IDA) requests an investigation into the brutal beating of a sheep by a soldier with a metal baseball bat. This November 2011 incident was caught on video in Afghanistan and has circulated around the Internet tarnishing the reputation of the U.S. Defense Department. The video shows a child looking on and several other soldiers laughing and supporting the beating. It took 12 blows with the sheep convulsing and several attempts at escape before the helpless animal finally died. IDA demands an investigation be conducted into this incident and appropriate prosecutorial action taken for all those involved.
Animal cruelty is punishable by military law under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for “public animals” like bomb-sniffing dogs and military horses. The Commission on Military Justice in 2009 recommended that criminal charges be brought against military personnel who abuse non-public animals like dogs, cats, and farm animals, but it is unclear if the military has heeded the recommendations of the Commission.
This is not the first instance of animal cruelty perpetrated by U.S. soldiers caught on video. Marine David Motari was filmed throwing a puppy over a cliff in Iraq in a 2008 video. This violent and senseless act eventually led to his discharge from military duty.
There is ample scientific documentation showing that people who abuse animals are also a danger to other people. Violent acts towards animals are often precursors to acts of human violence, including domestic violence, sexual violence, and murder. Prosecuting animal mistreatment carried out by military personnel is an important step towards preventing and reducing the risk of violent incidents to other soldiers and civilians as well as their spouses, children, friends and neighbors.
A defense of the video alluded that this killing was carried out to celebrate the Muslim holy festival of Eid where goats are often ritually slaughtered. However, Halal guidelines strictly call for humane slaughter of animals to cause minimal stress. It is prohibited to cause suffering to an animal and is recommended to slaughter an animal with a single kill stroke to the neck. This was obviously a slow, frightening, and painful death for this sheep and not in line with Muslim Halal guidelines.
In Defense of Animals requests a full investigation into this incident and for the perpetrators to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Thank you.
IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048
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