“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”

— St. Francis of Assisi

Just days after the latest round of dog shootings on Liberty Street in Dublin, many residents are asking “Why?”

Dublin Police Chief Lannie Lee said the department is still investigating the recent incidents and hopes to have more answers soon. Lee said they are collecting evidence and pursuing leads. The department has handled animal cruelty cases before, but Lee said this is the first time he’s seen a case quite like this.

Dr. Tom Burdenski, a licensed psychologist and an assistant professor at Tarleton State University, said figuring out why someone would shoot a dog could be tricky.

“It’s all guesswork. Human behavior is hard to predict,” Burdenski said, adding he was not familiar with any of the victims or suspects involved or what other conditions may have contributed to the shootings.

“Shooting an animal and killing an animal could be a destructive prank or a way of getting even with the animal or the owner,” Burdenski said. “It’s a way to act out aggression without facing the person you are upset with. It seems likely to me it could be an act of payback.”

Without knowing the particulars surrounding the case, Burdenski said the shootings could be the result of a neighborhood dispute, the act of someone who has an ax to grind or something more sinister. Psychologists have long looked at acts of animal cruelty in children and adolescents as red flags.

“It’s one of the major indicators of adult anti-social personality,” Burdenski said. “And one of the big red flags in childhood is harming animals for fun.”

Burdenski said many children who exhibit such behavior move to bigger targets as adults, such as other people, and often end up in prison.

Whether someone is just angry over dogs barking in the night or if they have a score to settle, when behavior crosses the line into criminal activity it displays immaturity and cowardice.

“It’s a cowardly way to act on impulses because in the middle of the night chances are no one will catch you,” Burdenski said.