Antisocial Personality Disorder And Cruelty To Animals – Phoenix Scottsdale AZ Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist

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Sam Basso
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Because I am involved in the “dog world”, I receive daily notices – from rescue volunteers; from internet dog forums I belong to; from news sources I read, etc. – of dogs that have been abused. Some of these stories are so horrible, I just have to look away. I’m just flooded with these cases every day, from all over the world, and it is very discouraging. But, because I feel I have a responsibility to help stop animal abuse, I stay aware of what is going on.

It is almost impossible for me to understand why a person could do some of the heinous things I hear about. I can’t relate to the inner motivations a person could have to do these kinds of things. Just in the past couple of days, I’ve seen stories of dogs that have been purposely burned (set on fire, or chemical burns); beaten; kicked; dragged behind vehicles; thrown in dumpsters; abused by animal control or animal shelters; ritual killings; cult or religious killings; drug gangs using dogs for pit fighting; starved dogs; dogs left behind in homes after the people move out… and on and on.

Some people are vicious. They would be diagnosed as having Antisocial Personality Disorder. That doesn’t sound so bad… but it is. Basically, the person is a remorseless psychopath. Here is the definition from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (quoted from Wikipedia):

A) There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:
failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest; deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure; impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead; irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults; reckless disregard for safety of self or others; consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations; lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another;
B) The individual is at least age 18 years.
C) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
D) The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.

When it comes to dogs, it often boils down to horrible acts of cruelty. These people often have a criminal history, or a history of behavioral problems, and the person doing it also abuses intoxicating substances (drugs and/or alcohol). Not really the kind of person that you want around you, your kids, your family, or your dog.

Your opinion is as good as mine as to what to do about this kind of thing. Clearly, anyone found guilty of this kind of animal cruelty should be dealt with by law enforcement. It is a legal matter. Note that these types of people don’t just hurt animals, they hurt others… without remorse and without seeing a need to change. Also note that the warning signs start with the development of conduct disorders that can include remorseless and callous aggression towards people and animals, property destruction, theft, deceitfulness, and serious rule breaking. Second, these types of people need ongoing monitoring. They aren’t right in the head. Look, I deal with vicious dogs sometimes. They aren’t right in the head, either. I’ve seen dogs that will attack for no apparent reason. I’ve seen dogs that had traumatic injuries, illnesses, and abuse turn into vicious dogs. We either put them in a situation where they can’t hurt others ever again, or we put them down. But, these are animals. These people are someone’s son or daughter, so the situation is much more difficult. But, we all know that most criminal offenders will do it again once they are released from prison. With sexual predators, we monitor them closely for the rest of their lives. Maybe that is necessary for instances of severe animal cruelty. Yes, I do believe people can make mistakes in their lives, and turn around. I also know that troubled kids can act out, and what we are really seeing is a cry for help. But, then again, sometimes we are dealing with a vicious person. They aren’t going to turn around. And in those types of situations, we need better laws and a better system for dealing with them.

I had an inquiry recently, asking what should you do if a stranger attacks your dog.

I think we should all be prepared for this kind of thing. After you’ve been around enough people and dogs in public, you come to see what I call Sam’s Rule. Sam’s Rule is that 1 out of every 1,000 people you meet is absolutely nuts and might hurt your dog. I’ve run across them over the years, and maybe you have too. It could be the goofy old man down the street that walks with a homemade pike, looking for an opportunity to stab a dog or to get you in trouble with the police on a false charge. It could be the person that comes up in a friendly way, and then kicks or hits your dog. It could be the crazy lady that panics and starts screaming at you when she sees you walking your friendly dog along the sidewalk. It could be the guy that starts petting your dog, and then grabs your dog in a bear hug and won’t let go… I’ve seen this stuff. Or maybe the guy that has an aggressive dog, and purposely lets it loose to attack other dogs just for the thrill. I know that happens, too. And there are people that will kill your dog if left unsupervised in the yard. You see a lot of those stories in the news. There are also gang members that snatch dogs and force them to fight for money. No well adjusted person does that kind of thing to an animal.

So, you need to be vigilant, and be prepared… always… to step in and protect your dog. The best defense is always to get away from trouble. That could mean telling that person they need to move out of your home; telling them the relationship is over; or using a variety of means of surveillance to make sure the person is caught menacing your dog or property.

Next, be prepared to call the police. I’ve been in a situation where a wacko came up to me and a student, acting threateningly towards the dog. The police were called, he knew it, and he fled the scene. We both felt personally endangered. The guy also had a backpack, and at one point, he put it down and reached inside… we were both thinking that he might be pulling out a gun.

You also need to be prepared for your dog to fight back. And you need to be prepared for protecting your dog from a false charge that your dog started it. There are laws in most places that make it illegal for a person to provoke a dog attack, or it gives the dog the right to attack if provoked, or both. You need to know the laws in your town. And you need to be prepared to get a lawyer if necessary. Otherwise, you could be facing a false charge, and you’ll be the one going to jail. These people don’t care if you are harmed.

All this might seem overkill. But it isn’t. Over the years, I’ve lived near and encountered a number of really bad people that would hurt dogs. Even as a kid, we had a neighbor come over and hit our German Shepherd Dog over the head with a Coke bottle because he didn’t like our dog. He came into our yard and did it. I’ve also heard stories from students that have encountered these nut jobs, too.

Purposeful animal cruelty is all too real. Be prepared.

Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.


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