2014-05-30 / Front Page

Case attracts PETA’s attention

By Sean P. Milligan
Contributing Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND – TeachKind, an imprint of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that focuses on humane education, has reached out to schools in South Portland and Portland in response to the two South Portland High School girls who, police allege, placed an 8-week-old kitten in a microwave in September.

The group offers educational materials for students in kindergarten through grade 12. According to Nina Kahn, TeachKind coordinator for PETA, the free materials offered include lesson plans to help educators start their own animal rights clubs in their schools.

According to South Portland High School Principal Ryan Caron, the school does not plan to take TeachKind up on their offer.

“Where we’re at at this point is that we had an incident, one incident, and we have much of the material that was included in those materials,” he said. “Respect, honor are already part of our honor code and the work that we do daily.”

The outreach from TeachKind comes days after Judge Keith Powers ordered the girls to undergo psychological evaluations before returning to the court June 2. After the hearing May 1, the girls were released to the custody of their parents under conditions of a curfew and mandatory school attendance.

“Countless studies show that people who abuse animals will rarely stop at that,” Kahn said. “By teaching kindness to animals through humane education, schools can reach kids before they commit an act of violence.”

Kahn added that although TeachKind hasn’t heard back from South Portland High School, the organization said it has heard from a principal at another area school.

“TeachKind hopes to hear back from these local schools, and we’d love to send them our free materials, but we also want to let them know the connection between animal abuse and abuse toward other people is undeniable,” Kahn said.

According to Kahn, TeachKind’s actions in reaching out to the schools in Portland and South Portland are done with intentions of preventing future violence.

The two girls, who were both 15 at the time, were originally charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals. The charges were increased after the kitten, now named Miracle, began displaying symptoms that could have been caused by the incident, including the inability to eat or walk.

South Portland High School does not plan to reprimand the girls beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

“Based on the action of the court – no,” said Caron when asked if the school planned to punish the girls. “That wouldn’t be within our range of authority.”

For more information on TeachKind, see www.TeachKind.org.

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