Published in the Naples Daily News online version on October 30, 2018.

Law enforcement in Lee County is doing the right thing by investigating and charging a man with animal cruelty for shooting Daisy the cat through the abdomen with a bow and arrow. This case has outraged many people across the country. Cruelty against cats is a serious matter, so it was reassuring for Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno to go on record to say, “At no point will we ever tolerate any kind of inhumane treatment to animals in this county.”

Every animal deserves to be safe and protected from cruelty or abuse, and this protection needs to apply to every kind of cat, owned or not owned.

The best protection comes from strong anti-cruelty laws, strict enforcement, and punishing offenders to the fullest extent of the law. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws that criminalize acts of cruelty toward animals and include felony animal cruelty offenses.

While it’s important to protect cats and other animals, anti-cruelty laws are important for people, too. Research has shown a connection between violence against animals and violence against people. Therefore, for the sake of everyone living in the community, we cannot ignore cruelty toward animals. Unfortunately, many cases of animal cruelty are not taken seriously and prosecuted. And that is why we’re thankful that Lee County law enforcement recognizes the danger that animal cruelty represents to the community and is demanding accountability for this horrific act.

Becky Robinson, president and founder, Alley Cat Allies, Bethesda, Md.