Cruelty to Animals

Cruelty to animals, also called animal abuse or animal neglect, is the intentional infliction by humans of suffering or harm upon any non-human animal, regardless of whether the act is against the law or not. More narrowly, it can be the causing of harm or suffering for specific gain, such as killing animals for food or for their fur; opinions differ about the extent of cruelty associated with a given method of slaughter. Cruelty to animals sometimes encompasses inflicting harm or suffering for personal amusement, as in zoosadism.

There are two types of Animal Cruelty : Neglect and Intentional Cruelty .


Neglect is the failure to provide an animal with the most basic requirements of food, water, shelter and veterinary care.

If the problem is not corrected, the animal may be removed from the neglectful person by law enforcement authorities.
In some cases, the owner will simply turn the animal over to authorities because they no longer want the responsibility.

Intentional Cruelty

Intentional cruelty is when an individual purposely inflicts physical harm or injury on an animal, such as deliberately maiming, torturing or even killing an animal. It can be more shocking and usually an indicator of a serious human behavior problem.

Although many individuals are arrested for intentional cruelty, people who commit even the most heinous crimes against animals are often not prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

To Be More Specific :Seven forms of animal abuse.

The recent case of the dog in Gautier, Miss., being found with PVC adhesive on its eyes, ears and body orifices proved to us that southern Mississippi is not immune to incidences of overt intentional abuse. In addition, the national trade publication Veterinary Medicine (August 2006) featured a panel of 10 (including veterinarians, ASPCA representatives, mental health professionals and those in the legal field and law enforcement) to discuss the ongoing issues concerning animal abuse in America.

1. Simple neglect. To many of us, this means not taking care of the basic needs of an animal. Although this may sound like a basic issue of providing food, water and shelter for a pet, this issue extends in to responsibility for medical upkeep of an animal as well. The problem may be lack of pet grooming, excessive parasites, or perhaps a collar that’s been overgrown by a growing puppy or an adult dog growing obese. In my experience, I believe, neglect is more of a passive than active phenomenon.

There are pet owners in dire straits economically, senior citizens who lose track of what their pet needs due to other personal challenges of their own, and animals resulting of broken homes. There is a subjective matter that veterinarians must weigh out. As we strive to improve the life of the animal presented before us, we must ask ourselves whether the person presenting the animal deserves punishment or is pleading for help in their own lives.

Veterinarians, do their best to recognize the need to help both the pet and the person present. If these people don’t have families who can assist,  then there are ways to link up with local governmental agencies that can.

2. Gross, willful, cruel or malicious neglect. These actions are always active and never passive. Examples include lack of food or water provided intentionally, or perhaps lack of adequate shelter or containment provided on a long-term basis. Examples include an emaciated dog kept in a milk crate full of old food and feces, or a dog kept out on a chain long-term without shade or water (causing heatstroke). These conditions are beyond what education and compassion for a pet owner can fix, these animals need to be relocated and the owner reported. Gross, willful, cruel or malicious neglect demands punishment.


3. Animal Hoarding. This is the toughest and most complicated situation dealt with, since there are degrees of abuse that sneak up on people who do this. Ironically, many people who end up guilty of animal hoarding begin multiple-pet ownership or fostering with the best intentions for the animals in question. The problem is, when the sheer number of animals on a premise exceeds the practical limit of quality care, hoarding issues come into play.

Experts in human psychiatry tell us that there are three types of hoarders: the exploiter-hoarder, who takes on animals due to their self-important superiority and to control things. Second, rescuers tend to accumulate pets, often working through networks of others. The third group is the caregiver who simply gets overwhelmed by either animal collection or allowing for unchecked breeding over time.The last category is the greatest in number, and have seen examples of all three in my career. Re-orientation through a de-population and educational process eventually can get these folks back on track.

4. Intentional Abuse and Torture. Once only seen on “Animal Cops” on Animal Planet, we have a case close to home with the poor dog that had to be euthanized in Gautier, Miss. Getting to the root cause of what possesses people to do such things to animals is often a challenge. The answer usually is that these people are dealing with other human relationship issues, and torturing or abusing a pet is a method for a person to “get back” at the person with whom the relationship is strained. It is commonly acknowledged by social workers that people who abuse animals often are abusing other people as well. In a New York state study, 700 women who were victims of intimate partner violence stated that if they had pets, up to 39.4 percent of the women felt their pets were at risk. There is a strong link between human domestic violence and violence aimed at pets.

5. Organized Abuse: dog fighting. Yes, it still goes on. Legislation to end all forms of dog fighting has been slow to change things in this underground industry. I hear about dog fighting events in this region occasionally, but getting to the specific sites when the event takes place is limited to insiders. Why does this still go on in an age when gambling can go on legally in other legal venues? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s not about the money, but more about pride in who can breed and fight the toughest, most bloodthirsty dogs who can earn the owning handler a reputation. So here we go again — it’s rooted in the people.

6. Ritual abuse. This is the category I seldom see, and I’m glad I don’t. Yet, the panel recognized this category as significant enough of a problem nationally to be mentioned. Apparently, there are religious sects (or those that pose to be spiritual) that include animal sacrifice and mutilations as part of their rituals. Such sacrifices should carry severe penalties if the animal killed in a ritual is not owned by the participant. I would seek stiff penalties if an animal was mutilated in the process, with disregard for its pain and suffering (whether owned by the participant or not).

7. Sexual abuse. This is repulsive to most of us, but this category made the list because it is a common enough outgrowth of the sexual deviances we see in modern society. Why should we be so shocked, when the moral fiber of American society has been torn by pornography in print, video, and now online? I will leave my readers with one solid reference on the subject: Leviticus 20:15, 16. The penalty for this type of deviance is what? Fitting.

Animal Abuse Statistics from

Animal Abuse Statistics Data
Average number of animal abuse / cruelty cases reported in the media each year 1,920
Percent of animal abuse cases that involved dogs 60 %
Percent of animal abuse cases that involved cats 18 %
Percent of animal abuse cases that involved other animals 22 %
Percent of dog abuse cases that involved pit bulls 26 %
Most Common Type of Animal Abuse Percent of Reported Cases
Neglect / Abandonment 32 %
Shooting 11 %
Hoarding (When too many animals are kept in unsanitary conditions) 13 %
Beating 8 %
Fighting 9 %
Stabbing 5 %
Mutilation / Torture 5 %
Choking / Strangulation / Suffocation 3 %
Other 2 %
Burning 2 %
Poisoning 10 %
Other Animal Abuse Statistics Data
Number of mice, rates, dogs, cats, rabbit, monkeys, and other animals killed in US laboratories each year 100,000,000
Number of animals that fall victim to animal hoarding each year 250,000
Percent of fur clothing in the United States that comes from China 54 %


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