Given the paranoia/histrionics of some of my fellow citizens, I offer the following disclaimer. Simply because a I put forth an opinion at variance to yours, one should not infer that puppy-kicking is one of my recreational activities. Nor do I condone dog fighting. I have owned pets (dogs and a cat) most of my life and felt a deep affection for each one.
With that said, I have difficulty with the following quote: "I believe if Dante were alive today and were rewriting the Inferno, that the lowest places in hell would be reserved for those who commit cruelty to our animals and to our children." - U.S. Attorney George Beck speaking about the three year investigation (on dog fighting).
First, set aside the lack of evidence or logical argument for a physical hell. From a standpoint of reason alone, I would suggest the such statements are based in fuzzy thinking and serve only to muddy the waters in any thoughtful debate. It is less clear to me whether the writer is attempting to suggest an elevated status for the canine or a diminished status for the human child. Does it occur to anyone else that a certain beneficial moral clarity is implicit in the ability to identify members of ones own 'Team'?
I am proud to state for the public record, I consider humans, as flawed and often annoying as they are, to be the other members of my Team. Yes, I may love the (canine or feline) mascot. However, if a teammate and the mascot are both drowning (and, for the logicians, I have an equal chance of saving either and only one can be saved) this is not a judgment call. This does not require existential angst or hand-wringing on my part. To be clear. When you agree to go to the lake with me, you should assume that, if such a dire situation were to arise, I'd save you and mourn the dog. And, frankly, I'd prefer to know your stance on the issue prior to our outing. Life vests notwithstanding.