ESV - 10 Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
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I would say that this passage was expressing the belief that a righteous person shows regard even for animals as a reflection of the fact that, although not human, they have also been created by God, and can possess attributes that even humans can admire and learn from (as expressed in multiple other locations in Proverbs, even with regard to organisms as seemingly small or insignificant as ants (Proverbs 30:24-31)). However, I would also say that the main "teaching point" of the verse cited in the question is to contrast the fact that the kindness of the righteous extends even to animals, while even seemingly merciful actions on the part of the wicked or unrighteous contain elements of cruelty, self-interest, or ulterior motives that betray the true nature of the person who performs them.
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