In light of animal cruelty incident, PETA stresses need to teach compassion in classrooms; PGC says investigation ongoing

Staff Writer

In response to a video that recently circulated on social media involving the abuse of an injured whitetail deer, PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — has issued a request via letter to the Brookville Area School District requesting the utilization of lessons on compassion and issued a request to the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office regarding charges for the incident. The two individuals in the video are reportedly from the Brookville area, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission is investigating the incident. The identities of the suspects have not been released, and no charges have yet been filed.

"After a video was shared on social media of two (individuals) tearing off the antlers of a deer who had been shot, kicking him in the face and stepping on his throat, TeachKind — PETA's humane education division— sent a letter this afternoon urging the superintendent of the Brookville Area School District, Dr. Erich May, to implement lessons in compassion immediately," said a release issued to The Spirit on Thursday. "PETA also requested that the Jefferson County District Attorney's office consider felony cruelty-to-animals charges against those responsible."

The release noted that through TeachKind, middle and high schools in the district were offered free "Every Living Being Matters: Report Abuse If You See It!" posters and elementary schools its "Share the World" curriculum kits, which include lesson plans that aim to foster empathy for animals and are appropriate for even the youngest learners. "The kits also help educators meet the expectations of Pennsylvania law, which advises teachers to instill 'basic civil values and character traits … including honesty, integrity, … respect … and empathy' in their students," the release said.

PETA Director of Student Campaigns and Influence Rachelle Owen added, "PETA is calling on the district attorney's office to file charges as appropriate and urging Brookville schools to implement humane education before anyone else gets hurt."

On Thursday morning, the Pennsylvania Game Commission issued the following statement, noting that the investigation is ongoing: "Over the last few days, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has received an overwhelming public response regarding the video of the two individuals purporting to assault an injured deer. This matter is still the subject of an active investigation being conducted by our state game wardens in cooperation with county law enforcement officials. While we understand the desire for a swift response to the conduct displayed in the video, the proper legal steps must be followed in an investigation of this manner. We will provide updates when they become available. As always, the Game Commission appreciates the public’s concern for our state’s wildlife."

TeachKind notes that its staff is available to send materials to schools, suggest lesson plans and even host classroom presentations for students via Skype — all for free. "TeachKind — whose motto reads, in part, that 'animals are not ours to abuse in any way' — opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview." For more information, the group recommended visiting TeachKind.org.

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