Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Video of Marine Throwing Puppy Off Cliff Draws Fire

Last week, a 17-second video was posted on YouTube depicting a terrible act of animal cruelty committed by a U.S. Marine stationed in Iraq. The video begins with a soldier in combat uniform holding a tiny puppy by the scruff of her neck. Joking with the cameraman, he says "Cute little puppy" in a childlike voice, then hurls the yelping dog off of a precipice to certain death. "That's mean. That was mean, Motari," says his companion with laughter.

The soldier is believed to be a Lance Corporal with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment from Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base in Hawaii, who returned home to the states in October 2007. Major Chris Perrine, a spokesman at the base, called the video "...shocking and deplorable and...contrary to the high standards we expect from every Marine." Perrine says the military has launched a full investigation, and will take appropriate action.

Incensed by the pointless killing, many are calling for the soldiers who did the deed to be dishonorably discharged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, the disturbing video raises questions about what charges the soldiers would face if found guilty, because the Uniform Code of Military Justice does not specifically prohibit or punish animal cruelty.

Some claim the video is a hoax, a possibility that the military says it will address in its investigation. However, even if it is fake, it is a disgraceful thing to do, especially for a soldier who is representing our country. Many children see soldiers as role models, and after viewing the video may try to emulate this deplorable behavior by filming themselves killing animals and posting the videos on the internet.

Such atrocious acts cannot be excused, but it is important to remember that they do not represent the majority of people serving overseas. As an unidentified source at the Kaneohe Bay Base said, "We're all outraged. We're probably more outraged than the general public." The incident also stands in sharp contrast to the many heartwarming stories of U.S. troops who have rescued dogs from Iraq and Afghanistan and brought them home to America.

Please Take Action to urge Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to see that this incident is promptly investigated and the culprits fully prosecuted, and to amend the Uniform Code of Military Conduct to explicitly outlaw acts of animal cruelty.