Two children residing in Daneville, Virginia are being investigated by authorities for the abuse of a dog belonging to a resident in their neighborhood.

The children, aged 4 and 6 years old, allegedly beat the dog nearly to death with a plastic baseball bat. A three-pound Yorkie named Cash is recovering after suffering from a concussion following the incident. The owner of the small dog, Angela Purdy, states that her dog was in the backyard of her parents’ home when found.

Purdy states, “They really didn’t know what had happened at that point; just possibly another dog had attacked him. As the day went on we began to get more information.”

Purdy says that two girls living in the neighborhood admitted to the crime, but the police have yet to release any details concerning their involvement.

The community has been very supportive emotionally and financially. After Purdy created a Facebook post asking for prayers for the small dog, people began donating money towards the veterinary expenses to save Cash. Purdy told Channel 7 News she hopes “parents talk to their children about animal safety, and how there is a difference between playing and hurting animals and when it becomes animal cruelty.”

Animal cruelty by children — especially a case this severe — raises many red flags. Often, the behavior stems from childhood abuse. According to Joni E Johnston of Psychology Today, “Most commonly, children who abuse animals have either witnessed or experienced abuse themselves.  For example, statistics show that 30 percent of children who have witnessed domestic violence act out a similar type of violence against their pets.”

Education on how to treat animals is also a vital component in stopping animal cruelty by children. Children must learn at a young age that animals think and feel just as humans do, and that it is wrong to harm them.

Let’s hope that in this sad case, Cash makes a full recovery and the children get the help they so clearly need.