PETA presses Blair-Taylor School District to teach compassion over opossum’s torture death
Allegations include pouring beer down animal's throat, stabbing, decapitation with ax
BLAIR, Wis. (WKBT) — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is pressing the Blair-Taylor School District to initiate compassion lessons in reaction to felony charges against students for torturing an opossum to death.
TeachKind, PETA’s humane education division, announced it sent letters Tuesday afternoon to Blair-Taylor Superintendent Jeffrey Eide and the district’s guidance counselors urging an empathy curriculum.
PETA’s appeal is in connection with felony charges filed last month in Jackson County Circuit Court alleging that 18-year old Nicholas Kulig of Blair, who is not a Blair-Taylor student, and a 17-year-old from Hixton tortured the animal before killing it.
Charges, filed April 7 in Jackson County District Court, included mistreatment of an animal causing death against Kulig and mistreatment of an animal causing death as well as being a party to a crime. against the 17-year-old, according to court records.
The charges were filed after detectives were notified in March about a Snapchat video purportedly showing the incident, which included pouring beer down the opossum’s throat, dropping weights on him and stabbing him with a knife. Kulig reportedly admitted that he decapitated the animal with an ax, according to the criminal complaint.
Three other juveniles can be seen in the video, the complaint says.
Initial hearings for Kulig and the 17-year-old are set for 9 a.m. May 10 in Jackson County District Court.
“If these reports are true, this opossum endured a terrifying, agonizing death at the hands of young people who desperately need lessons in empathy,” said Marta Holmberg, senior director of PETA’s youth programs Marta Holmberg.
“PETA’s TeachKind division is eager to help schools prevent violence by teaching students to understand and respect others,” Holmberg said in a PETA news release.
Tuesday night, Superintendent Eide told WKBT News 8 Now, “The incident seems isolated, but I did thank PETA for the information. I have been in communication with our principal and school counselor regarding this incident.”
Wisconsin encourages ethical education through the state’s Character Education Partnership.
The motto of PETA’s TeachKind program reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way.” The nonprofit organization offered the school district its “Empathy Now” guide for educators to help address and prevent youth violence against animals, along with its “Share the World” curriculum kits, appropriate for young children.
TeachKind cites mental-health professionals and law-enforcement agencies as saying that perpetrators of violent acts against animals often are repeat offenders who pose serious threats to the public. The TeachKind staff, which includes former classroom teachers, is available to send free materials to schools, suggest lesson plans and host classroom presentations for students via Zoom.
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