by Denise Carey-Costa
A video that was played and shared countless times on Facebook has caused worldwide outrage and a demand for action. The video shows a dog named Peanut being scolded and tortured by his owner Wesley Lorenzo Whitmore, (per his Facebook profile) a Memphis, Tennessee resident.
Watch the video click here.
In the video, the abuser is seen berating his dog, Peanut, for supposedly defecating inside the house. Peanut is clearly terrified, displaying a weak and collapsed posture with tail tightly tucked beneath his legs, as the abuser repeatedly yanks him by the collar/neck to a more seated position, screams in his face, shines a bright light in his eyes and beats him with a rolled up newspaper.
When people concerned for Peanut’s well being called the Memphis Police Department to check on the dog, and hopefully remove him from the property, the responding officer was both unconcerned and unprofessional in his handling of the situation.
The response of the officer was described on Wesley Lorenzo Whitmore’s Facebook page where he bragged that he knew the responding Memphis Police Department Officer and the officer laughed when watching the video.
Whitmore quoted the officer on his Facebook thread as saying, “I’ve seen worse, and I’ve done worse to my dog.”
We hold police officers to a much higher code of conduct. Hearing that they respond by laughing at an animal abuse video and stating they do worse to their own dog is disturbing and should be addressed by the Memphis Police Department’s Professional Standards Division.
The Facebook thread and page have since been taken down due to much public outcry.
Unfortunately, Memphis Police Department and Memphis Animal Services did not press charges or remove Peanut from the premises because “no laws were broken.” What if this were an abuse video of a child? Would it invoke such a lackadaisical response? One would hope not.
When author contacted the Memphis Chief of Police for a statement on their handling of the case, there was no response.
A representative of Memphis Animal Services named Katie Pemberton responded to author’s email regarding the case, stating
Any time we receive a complaint alleging animal cruelty we conduct a full investigation to determine if any legal violations occurred. One of the hardest parts of our job is understanding there is a big difference in what is legally required and what we feel is morally required. We can only enforce the law–what is legally required.
Apparently, Memphis Police Department’s and Memphis Animal Services’ authority to act are very limited in these cases.
It is a negative reflection on our nation as a whole when state and local animal cruelty codes are not robust or comprehensive enough to take action against a person or persons who intentionally abuse an animal then go on to laugh about it.
We as citizens of what is deemed the “greatest nation in the world” need to fight and demand stricter animal cruelty laws and harsher penalties for persons accused of torturing, terrorizing, neglecting, physically, and emotionally abusing animals.
We need to ensure that Peanut’s and future victims of animal abuse will be protected by the law and that justice is rightfully served.
In a 2019 study, 4.85 children died in the U.S per day due to abuse and neglect. Ironically, these same children have been the subject of an active investigation by the local Child Protective Services. Yet, these children were left in the care of their abusers until they died.
Statistically there is a direct correlation between animal abusers and child abusers. Children and countless animals have died at the hands of abusers because the agencies responsible for protecting them did not take aggressive action and move them to a safe place.
If laws are not strengthened and those in authoritative positions continue to let these children and animals slip through the cracks, countless lives are destined to be lost.
Peanut deserves to be moved to a home where he will be treated with love and kindness, Wesley Lorenzo Whitmore needs to be charged with animal abuse, and the responding Memphis police officer who laughed at Peanut’s abuse video needs to be disciplined by his agency.
To continue the fight for Peanut and other abused animals, please visit the Justice for Peanut Facebook page.
To speak out for Peanut, sign the petition:
Or send polite email messages to Memphis Police Department and Memphis Animal Services encouraging them to take abuse cases seriously.
*This story was first published in Pet Rescue Report.