Many thanks to ISCP member Irene Perrett for her overview and review of our Diploma in Understanding Animal Cruelty course.

‘Abuse has the capacity to negatively impact the intrinsic values and qualities of the victim, how society responds to these acts is indicative of the levels of humanity within that society. We can step away and ignore, or seek to alleviate harm and find justice for those who suffer abuse; whether or not they speak with a common language, we must each learn to listen for the voice of suffering.’

When the ISCP first offered the Diploma in Understanding Animal Cruelty, my thoughts initially travelled to the horrific and distressing images of animal abuse that circulate on social media and across the internet – the dark side of humanity. Those of us who love and care for our animals find the concept of abuse difficult to rationalise or contemplate, indeed cruelty can appear too devastating to comprehend. But then my thoughts broadened to cruelty in a wider context and how it affects the animals and people who cross its path. When I enrolled, I knew the Diploma would be challenging – but as it turns out, not in the way I expected!

The course has taken me on a journey of questioning and learning; letting go of old beliefs and developing new constructs and perceptions surrounding the human dynamic that is integral to understanding animal cruelty. The content leads the learner through understanding and defining cruelty, the aetiology, recognition and triggers which make up this phenomenon; and essentially, how it impacts both human and non-human animals, and society as a whole. Though we shouldn’t condone acts of cruelty, we can learn to understand why someone does what they do and apply that learning to improve the human – animal relationship. After all, if we can understand each other more fully, we can identify and help those more vulnerable amongst us.

I would recommend this course to anyone who is working with people and animals, involved in rescue, those entering from a human centric role – particularly with children or vulnerable adults, and for students considering enrolment on the Advanced Diploma. I think it’s important to say that the course hasn’t led me towards content that I would have chosen not to see, and allows each learner to fulfil the criteria in a way that they feel comfortable. The challenges of the course present the opportunity for self-evaluation, and enable the learner to approach the subject with consideration and empathy.