Should animal abusers be allowed to have children?

Katherine - posted on 02/04/2011 ( 25 moms have responded )




After horrifically abusing several dogs, a 19-year-old New Zealand woman escaped jail time. Instead of serving the hard time she deserved for what one veterinarian said was "the worst case of animal neglect she had seen in her 19 years in the job," Sheryl Santos Teriaki got just two months of home detention and 100 hours of community service.

The most awful part of it all, however, is why she got the relaxed sentence -- she's pregnant!

"That fact alone has saved you by the narrowest margin from a sentence of imprisonment," the judge told her.

The abuse was found last summer when authorities were called to her home and found several dogs "in such poor condition that some were barely able to move." One she had buried already, and in total nine dogs were taken in for urgent care by a veterinarian -- two eventually had to be put to sleep.

Just reading about it sparks tears of outrage and anger and heartbreak for these poor defenseless animals, and even more so, for the baby she's bringing into the world -- especially because the paper said Teriaki, currently six months pregnant, has shown "little remorse." She said she'd gone somewhere and someone else was supposed to be caring for them, but they were her dogs. Also, authorities believe the abuse happened over four months.

"The facts make for somewhat disturbing reading," the judge said. "There is a photo attached to the summary of facts [that] I wouldn't wish on anybody."

She is banned from owning a dog for 10 years, which should probably be for life, but how can someone that cold, that irresponsible, that .... awful, be allowed to mother a human being? If someone treats an animal like that, the chances of them treating a human with love and respect are likely low.

I desperately hope there's more to this story that's not being reported -- that child services has been alerted, that she'll be under surveillance, that someone is going to be watching out for this baby and be ready to protect him or her from suffering like these dogs did.

Do you think people who abuse animals should be allowed to raise children?


Mary - posted on 02/04/2011




Here's the problem with not taking abuse and cruelty towards animals seriously....if left unchecked, those people who abuse animals are statistically more likely to go on to abusing other humans, particularly children.

Cases involving the abuse of animals NEED to be taken seriously by both society and the legal system, particularly in the case of the OP, where the offender is a "parent".

There is currently a trial in progress in Baltimore City involving twin teenage brothers who set a pit bull puppy on fire in 2009. Despite the valiant efforts of the police officer who risked her own safety to douse the flames engulfing the dog, and the best efforts of the vet, the dog had to be euthanized a few days later. the boys were arrested, and released on bail. There friends and family staunchly defended their innocence, and spoke about what "good" boys they were. Many people expressed feelings that the prosecutors were being overzealous in the charges being brought against them....after all, it's just a homeless dog - and a pit bull at that. Who really cares?

This past October, one of those boys was again arrested - this time for attempted murder; he shot at a man and woman during an argument.

****The above is a re-post from an earlier thread about a woman in the UK who threw a kitten out of window.

Should she be "allowed" to have a child? Well, that cat is already out of the bag. But the authorities in New Zealand would be failing this child miserably if they don't step in and do some serious counseling with this woman, as well as closely monitoring her and that baby after she delivers. Sitting back and waiting to see if she neglects or abuses her infant, simply because there is no (documented) history of her mistreating a human is inexcusable in the face of this HUGE red flag.

Mary - posted on 02/05/2011




Tracey, to me, the huge distinction between a victim of childhood abuse, and a person who abuses animals is that the latter category has already ACTIVELY exhibited the capacity for cruelty and indifference to suffering. One is a victim, the other already a criminal.

In the case of the OP, she has already demonstrated her ability to inflict pain and suffering on a living creature(s) dependent upon her for it's survival and well being. A creature, who, much like an infant, trusts it's "parent" to love and nurture it, and is also unable to speak out and seek help when the one person who should be caring for it does just the opposite.

Even if you don't find the abuse and mistreatment of animals as morally repugnant as I do, the bottom line is that she has already forfeited her rights to go about raising her child without scrutiny. She is not a victim of acts perpetrated against her...she is a criminal who has already displayed (at best) a casual indifference to the suffering and death her actions have caused.

Krista - posted on 02/04/2011




Should she be "allowed" to have a child? Well, that cat is already out of the bag. But the authorities in New Zealand would be failing this child miserably if they don't step in and do some serious counseling with this woman, as well as closely monitoring her and that baby after she delivers. Sitting back and waiting to see if she neglects or abuses her infant, simply because there is no (documented) history of her mistreating a human is inexcusable in the face of this HUGE red flag.

Exactly what Mary said, right to the letter. They should be breathing right down this woman's neck until she hits menopause and can no longer breed.

Peggy - posted on 02/04/2011




I don't think you can base one on the other... to me an animal is different than your own child..some don't have the bond with an animal that you have with your child. I am not a animal lover BUT I dont agree with abusing them either., YES, she should have received some sort of jail time pregnant or not! They should have also done some sort of mental test to see exactly where she is in her head.

Jocelyn - posted on 02/04/2011




Plain and simple.
People who abuse animals have no sense of morality.

But since she is already pregnant, she should be under CONSTANT watch. Camera's in her house, her car. Weekly visits by a social worker. Parenting classes. Counseling.
And at the FIRST hint of abuse (if she even THINKS about spanking--which I don't believe is abuse under normal circumstances, but in her case...), she should have her child removed immediately.


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Mary - posted on 02/05/2011




Tracey, I agree, the information in the OP is limited with regards to the specifics of the abuse, does say that "...authorities believe the abuse happened over four months", as well the fact that she showed "little remorse". So, for me, her claim that she was away and "someone else" was caring for the dogs is just utter crap. And...she was found guilty by the courts.

I never said she shouldn't be allowed to have children. I did say that her criminal behavior was a huge red flag with regards to her parenting potential and abilities that warranted both counseling and monitoring.

As for other groups considered "at risk" to abuse a child...yes, in a perfect world, all those parents should receive both counseling and follow-up monitoring. The problem is that, in many cases, no one is necessarily aware that there even is that history. For parents who have a history of being abused as a child, the only way to know that is if they willingly divulge that information to someone in a position to do something about it.

Again, the big difference between the girl in the OP and the random person with a history of abuse is that this girl has been found guilty of a crime (and even if she didn't beat the dogs, neglect to the point of malnutrition and death is a form of abuse). That fact alone warrants professional intervention to ensure the safety of her child.

Melissa - posted on 02/05/2011




no no no. That child should be take form her as soon as she gives birth. God help that poor baby. I pray it is not raised by her

~♥Little Miss - posted on 02/05/2011




I wish that there was a way to intervine this kind of a thing..those that abuse and neglect pets cannot of children...but it is a basic human right. Any idiot can have babies...I don't think there is much that can be done about this....

Rosie - posted on 02/05/2011




i do believe i've seen somewhere that people who abuse animals are more apt to abuse children, but there is no way to prove that this particular women will or will not be one of those statistics.
i say yes people who abuse animals should be allowed to have kids. you can't take away their rights by the simple fact they had a past discretion. shit, murderers are allowed to have children. i do think they should monitor her, but they probably won't. child welfare services suck here, i don't know about new zealand, but i'd gander many fall through the cracks there as well.

Tracey - posted on 02/05/2011




Mary, I can only comment on the information given here, I have no other knowledge about this case or about the woman's innocence / guilt. The post states that she went away allegedly leaving someone in charge of pets, and that the pets were not taken care of resulting in harm / death.

The post does not state that she beat the dogs, intentionally inflicted pain or took part in activity that would injure her pets. In those cases I believe social services would and should be involved.

I made the point re child abuse because if we are to judge who can and cannot raise a child we have to go on the likelihood that harm will happen to them, and statistically abuse victims are more likely to do this. I didn't compare the two, In fact I made it very clear that I did not compare the two, I compared the likelihood that children in their care would be harmed.

How would you judge who can and cannot raise a child, what criteria would you use, would you say if you are guilty of A B or C crimes you can't but if you do X Y or Z crimes you can, would you make a blanket ban or would you judge each case individually?

Peggy - posted on 02/05/2011




Not only do I feel that PPD is an excuse for some (not all because yes the disease is real) but I also feel that the "I was abused as a kid and thats why I abuse my kids"... BS!! A person should have more self control over themselves. As a parent you should ALWAYS want to give your child a better life. I know several people who were abused as kids and they do NOT yell, spank or abuse their kids in any way... Its is a cycle that a person makes a choice to allow it to continue. As for an animal depending on you for its well being, yes, i agree. But an animal and a living child is too different things.

I have had an animal that I fed, took to the Vet, brushed it, talked to it etc when I moved and couldnt take it with me nor did I want to, I got rid of it and gave it away. I was not sad, never gave the animal a 2nd thought. BUT, when it comes to my kids, I will fight tooth and nail for them against my ex husband. I could NEVER just give them up.

Sometimes having a baby for some people make them realize life in a different perspective. Now with that being said, I dont think she should be forgotten about when it comes to bringing her baby into the world.. She should have one person assigned to her to keep a close eye on her and to intervene if needed.

April - posted on 02/05/2011




There are prisons which allow the Moms to have their children in with them. That actually sounds like an ideal place for this lady to be assigned and monitored.

Joanna - posted on 02/05/2011




Everyone should be allowed to have children, it's kind of our birthright I guess. However, there are many cases, like this one, where monitoring and guidance are needed.

Tracey - posted on 02/05/2011




Statistically a person who was abused as a child (and I am NOT comparing the two situations, just the fact that some people are quoting that 1 abuse leads to another abuse) is more likely to abuse their own children, would you have a problem with them having kids?

Nicole - posted on 02/04/2011




I do not think that she should be allowed to be alone with this baby at any time. I do not believe her story and I think that, at best, she should be allowed supervised access.

She needs to take responsibility for her actions and seek help.

Bonnie - posted on 02/04/2011




Although NO ONE has a right to harm animals, animals and children are two different things. Although because they have a history of abuse period that could lead to something down the road.

Nikkole - posted on 02/04/2011




I don't think they should be able to have children! But that being said i also dont understand WHY people that beat an animal or abuse them in any other way get WAY more time/worse sentence than if they were to do that to a human being!

Jenni - posted on 02/04/2011




Well if you can't keep an animal alive and provide for it's basic needs water, food, exercise, clean environment and medical care... how the hell would you expect to keep a child alive? Let alone provide a fulfilling home for that child? One free of abuse and neglect.
Of course I don't think the woman or other people like her should have kids. But if I had a dime for every person that has kids and should have them taken away I'd sure as hell wouldn't be living in a double-wide. I'd buy a modest home and donate the rest of the money to foster care and CAS.

Becky - posted on 02/04/2011




If she is capable of abusing a defenseless animal, then she is capable of abusing a defenseless child. I think you can often tell what type of a parent someone will be by how they treat their pets. I think she absolutely should be very closely monitored and made to attend counselling and parenting classes.
The sad thing is though, depending on where she lives, there is a good chance that won't happen. Due to child protection laws, often something has to happen to child - or have happened to a past child of that family - before they can get involved. I'm not sure if cruelty to animals would be grounds for CPS to investigate and get involved at birth here or not, but I suspect not.

[deleted account]

I agree with Sherri in that for the abuse on the dogs she should have received the same punishment someone who wasn't pregnant would have received because pregnancy is not a get out of jail free card, if you are found guilty you should have the punishment anyone else would get pregnant or not.

In regards to her being able to have a child, I also agree with Tracey she hasn't hurt any humans, however, abuse of animals can be a precursor to abuse of humans, many murderers and abusers (of humans) first decapitated animals, so it may be wise for an eye to be kept on her until she can prove she is capable of caring for another being. On the other hand though some people do not value animal life as they value human life so they could mis-treat an animal without a second thought yet still treat a human appropriately, and look after them properly. I guess it depends on each individual and so individuals need to be assessed to decide whether they are willing and able to care for a child.

Tracey - posted on 02/04/2011




She has not hurt, or threatened to hurt a human being so yes she should be allowed to have a child. I had my dog put down - does this mean I am likely to kill my kids?

Can we confirm the harm came to the dogs when she left home and claims someone else was looking after them? Not playing down what happened to the dogs who obviously suffered, but if this is the case it is not as if she beat them daily or deliberately caused them pain. When I go on holiday I leave my neighbour in charge of my pets and I don't phone to check up that she is actually feeding them. What about her neighbours, surely they would have known she had pets, or seen / heard something and they could have taken action earlier?

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