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Dr. Joti Samra interviewed by Renee Bernard, News 1130 on Why A Human Victim of Crime rarely triggers the type of Anger we see after a Crime Involving a Pet

(Renee Bernard November 14, 2014)


VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It’s not unusual for hundreds of people to gather for a vigil held in honour of dog that died due to some violence or negligence.


This week, we were reminded of those large vigils, when the man who beat his German shepherd and left him to die was charged in his mom’s murder.


A similar outpouring was seen after six dogs died in a pickup truck in Langley.


But why don’t we see the same type of anger when it comes to human victims of crime?


That could be for two reasons, says psychologist Dr. Joti Samra.


One, we’re shocked by a crime that involves an animal because those stories are rare.


Secondly, it seems we react more strongly when we believe the victim was helpless and couldn’t possibly have deserved the type of premature death they met with.


“When we take a look at animals, children and the elderly, there’s an innocence and a vulnerability there that we attribute to them that’s different from an adult, who we perceive to have more control over a situation.”


She points to what’s called the “just-world hypothesis,” which suggests we believe bad things only happen to bad people, and when we hear of a crime that doesn’t fit that premise, we react very strongly.


Not only did Captain the German shepherd’s death trigger a large memorial, hundreds of people were prompted to leave comments on our website. More than 1,200 people donated $70,000 to raise money for the SPCA investigation. Brian Whitlock, who has now been charged with the second-degree murder of his mother, returns to court later this month.


Two large vigils were held in honour of the six dogs that died in Langley. Emma Paulsen, the woman who left them in a pickup where they died has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in January.


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