Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Boy Seen Abusing Cat Is in Desperate Need of Help

DEAR ABBY: A friend told me something recently that was so disturbing I'm having trouble sleeping.

"Marie" was at a mini-mall when a man parked his car next to hers and walked into one of the stores, leaving a boy about 8 years old in the back seat with a cat. Marie saw the boy abuse and torture the animal. She said she could hear the cat howling through the closed vehicle. When the man returned to the car, my friend approached him and told him what she'd seen.

Abby, the man did not say one word. He climbed into his car and drove off. I haven't been able to get the image out of my head. That child learned his behavior somewhere, and his father condones it! If Marie hadn't been so shocked, she would have scribbled down the man's license number and reported the incident to the police or the SPCA. -- HORRIFIED IN WISCONSIN

DEAR HORRIFIED: What your friend witnessed was a child in dire need of emotional help, and a parent with his head in the sand. Emotionally healthy children do not abuse animals. For the father to have ignored what your friend told him is very sad. Of most concern to me is the fact that children who abuse animals become increasingly aggressive, and sometimes go on to abuse other children. I hope the father reads my column and recognizes the fact that this son desperately needs counseling now!