Reason behind animal cruelty
IT IS a crime most of us could not imagine committing - injuring an innocent animal that has no ability to defend itself.
But it is an incident that has been particularly prevalent in the Northern Rivers recently.
In December, a puppy was found nearly-dead at the Woodenbong tip after being bashed and dumped in the rubbish.
Three weeks ago, a kitten was found with horrific injuries after he had a firecracker shoved into his anus.
In July last year, a knife was used to decapitate a dog in a South Lismore home.
In March last year, a Kyogle man found a wallaby with an arrow through its abdomen.
The perpetrators of these crimes have never been found.
What do those responsible for such heinous crimes have, or lack, to be able to execute the act?
Southern Cross University allied health lecturer and registered psychologist Dr Jacqui Yoxall has a special interest in animal cruelty.
Research showed that people who admitted to acts of animal cruelty were driven by a lack of empathy, to punish by association or to use the animal as an alternative to a target they desire, Dr Yoxall explained.
Dr Yoxall spoke about empathy being taught and if that was not learned by adulthood, it identified as a contributor to animal cruelty.
"We think empathy can be taught, so if you grow up in an abusive family there may be low levels of empathy in one or both of parents," she said.
"Kids in violent homes may not have had the opportunity to learn empathy.
While animal cruelty is not a direct predictor for crime later in life, Dr Yoxall said she would be "surprised if a person who engages in animal cruelty hadn't violated the rights and been violent towards people."
She said growing up in a home with domestic violence also contributed to children engaging in animal cruelty.
"In those families of high levels of domestic violence, there are also high levels of animal violence," Dr Yoxall said.