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SPCA Teaches City Students About Animal Abuse

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A cat and dog burned. Because of two high-profile animal abuse cases in Baltimore there’s a push to protect pets.

Gigi Barnett has a look at the lessons being taught to Baltimore students.            

In class at Success Academy in Baltimore, students learn that Baltimore has many abuse cases. Among the most recent: Marilyn, a stray cat beaten by two boys until her hind leg broke.

There’s also Phoenix, the pit bull pup at the center of an animal abuse case against brothers Travers and Tremayne Johnson.

Prosecutors say the teens set Phoenix on fire in May 2009. It’s cause enough for the Maryland SPCA to target teens who may have seen animal cruelty first-hand because in Baltimore, many suspects in animal abuse cases are teens or young children.

Kyle Kessenich teaches at Success Academy. She says she became alarmed during a class discussion about NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s dog fighting conviction.

“They thought it was perfectly fine,” Kessenich said. “They had no problem with anything he had done, and I was surprised.”

“I try to take Milli to as many places as I can,” said Katie Flory, SPCA spokeswoman.

The school invited the SPCA and 4-year-old pit bull Milli to class.

“We need to start talking to them as young as they are,” said a Flory. “By the time they’re adults, their minds are already made up.”

“That’s not the right way to go because they’re living creatures also,” said a student.

But will it work? Stemming the tide of Baltimore’s abuse cases may start in school.

“It takes education,” Flory said. “And with the boys, it’s going to take more than one day.”

The SPCA says it first teaches teens about their responsibility to protect animals and tells them about how the city is cracking down on these cases.

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