Psychology behind animal cruelty; update on puppy allegedly stabbed in the face by a Hixson boy


HIXSON, Tennessee (WDEF) – News 12 has obtained new information into an alleged act of animal cruelty involving a 10-year old boy.

Because the suspect is a small child, News 12 is not identifying the child by name.

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The Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga is investigating the case and it’s executive director, Bob Citrullo has confirmed on the record what News 12 first reported Thursday night.

“The young boy involved allegedly stabbed the dog in the eye twice with a pocket knife,” Citrullo said.

According to investigators, the boy admitted to the crime. It happened at the boys home in the 400 block of Seviere Street in Hixson.

After the puppy was stabbed, the animal ran from the home to a nearby neighbor who called 911.

Authorities rushed the puppy to R.IV.E.R. Animal Hospital where it underwent surgery to save it’s life. Unfortunately, the surgeon could not save the dog’s eye.

“Where do you draw the line. It’s got to stop. This intentional cruelty of companion animals is outrageous,” Citrullo stated.

After News 12 posted the original story to social media Thursday night, there was a mass outcry of people demanding the child get help. In the wake of those online responses, News 12 contacted Senior Psychological Examiner Laura Berrier to understand the psychology behind animal cruelty. Berrier works at New Beginning Counseling Center in Hixson.

“In some cases, you have someone who has been in a violent environment or has had trauma in their life. Children tend to act things out rather than process them verbally. In other cases we see children with conduct disorders,” Berrier said.

Berrier went on to say those disorders can lead to adult criminal behavior without conscience, especially if it’s about having power over something as simple and innocent as a puppy.

“If it’s a conduct disorder or anti-social personality, then they’re going to be concerned with gaining power and control over the victim, and that is very serious behavior, “Berrier said.

The next question was often does alleged animal cruelty to this extent actually happen?

“Cruelty like that to a small animal is a rare occurrence. The majority of children would feel affectionate toward animals,” Berrier said.

Should authorities charge the 10-year old, he would face one count of aggravated animal cruelty which is a felony. If charged, the case would likely stay in juvenile court and not be transferred to adult criminal court.

News 12 has also learned that another dog inside the boy’s home is now in protective custody.