I have always been supportive of the U.S. military. My contributions to Nowzad Dogs have enabled dozens of soldiers to bring home the dogs they befriended in Afghanistan.

So I was particularly disturbed when I read that Air Force members stood by as a man dressed in civilian clothing was caught on tape savagely beating a sheep in Afghanistan. A YouTube video shows men dressed in Air Force uniforms pulling the sheep by its horns, followed by the man hitting the sheep more than 12 times with a baseball bat until the poor animal finally died.

The Air Force is now handling the investigation into this extreme act of animal cruelty. A similarly scandalous video emerged in 2008, in which a U.S. Marine allegedly threw a puppy off a cliff. U.S. Marine spokesmen never stated whether the video was real or edited, but the soldier involved was later discharged from the military.

There is considerable body of research that links cruelty to animals as an indicator of other antisocial problems. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, "school shooters" have a history of animal cruelty, as does every infamous serial killer from Son of Sam to Jeffrey Dahmer.

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We cannot tolerate this kind of behavior and its implications from our military. It reflects poorly on us as a nation and demeans all those who are serving our country. Those investigating this incident must take this matter very seriously.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice protects "public animals" like bomb-sniffing dogs and military horses. While the Commission on Military Justice recommended in 2009 that criminal charges be brought against military personnel who abuse "non-public animals" such as dogs, cats and farm animals, it remains unclear if the military has accepted the recommendations of the commission.

I urge you to send an email to the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley (saf.os@pentagon.af.mil) demanding a full investigation and recommending that criminal charges be brought against the Air Force personnel involved to set an example that will discourage such cruel deeds in the future.

New Canaan resident Cathy Kangas is a member of the Humane Society of the United States' National Council.