"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarian."
― Paul McCartney
The Black's Law Dictionary defines animal cruelty aptly, which is also followed or used by other judiciary authorities, the MSPCA, etc. It states, "The infliction of physical pain, suffering or death upon an animal, when not necessary for purposes of training or discipline or (in the case of death) to procure food or to release the animal from incurable suffering, but done wantonly, for mere sport, for the indulgence of a cruel and vindictive temper, or with reckless indifference to its pain."
Any interaction that causes any animal distress is unwarranted. Trades such as animal farming for fur and factory requirements, testing for medical procedures, and the preparation of various consumer products patronize this ghastly practice. The term Zoosadism
involves abuse and cruelty to animals, including instances of torture and killing. There are cultures across the world that actually "cover up" their heinous deeds towards animals as "trials" or "rehearsals" towards a certain development.
Animal cruelty is categorized into two types: passive cruelty (neglect) and active cruelty (abuse).
- Passive cruelty is the unknowing or unintentional cruelty that animals face as a result of careless and neglecting owners. Most times, the owners fail to realize that their pet is suffering due to what it is being put through on account of them, like forgetting to provide food or water, or leaving the pet chained up. Another type of animal neglect is known as 'pet hoarding', wherein some people take in a lot of animals as pets to help them, which leads to overcrowded and unsafe living conditions.
- Active cruelty is the second and more dangerous type, which also means abuse. It is the intentional harming, hurting, or even killing of animals.
PSYCHOLOGY OF ABUSERS
Studies reveal that people who intentionally harm and hurt animals are more inclined towards violence and may also harm other human beings. Almost all serial killers and rapists have a history of abusing animals in their childhood.
- For example, Jeffrey Dahmer (a.k.a. The Milwaukee Cannibal)―the homosexual serial killer, rapist, and cannibal―who murdered 16 boys and young men, used to collect dead animals and dissect them. He impaled the heads of dogs and cats.
- Ted Bundy, the serial killer and rapist, would abuse animals as a child.
- Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the Columbine High School students who shot 12 of their classmates and then themselves, were believed to have been mutilating animals.
A deeper study revealed that these killers mostly came from dysfunctional families, and experienced mental or physical trauma or parental neglect. Although not a universal trait, animal cruelty has been seen as a harbinger in most criminal cases.
WORD OF THE WISE
Is it right to kill animals just because they are apparently "at our mercy"? Animals are not our property to do things with them as we please. Here are a couple of people's opinions on the same.
• A popular TV show host Ellen DeGeneres rightly says, "If you want to test cosmetics, why do it on some poor animal who hasn't done anything? They should use prisoners who have been convicted of murder or rape instead. So, rather than seeing if perfume irritates a bunny rabbit's eyes, they should throw it in Charles Manson's eyes and ask him if it hurts."
• Czech writer Milan Kundera says, "Humanity's true moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals."
Every state has a different law pertaining to animal cruelty, and the punishment varies accordingly. Here's a look at the laws in a few states.
- In Alaska, animal cruelty attracts imprisonment up to 1 year, fine up to $5,000, restitution, and community service.
- In California, punishment includes imprisonment up to 1 year and/or fine up to $20,000.
- In Delaware, the punishment is imprisonment up to 1 year, fine up to $1,000, surrendering of all animals, and no animal ownership for 5 years. Intentional cruelty to any animal will attract a prison sentence of 3 years, fine up to $5,000, surrendering of all animals, and no animal ownership for 15 years.
- In Oklahoma, the punishment is imprisonment in a state penitentiary for up to 5 years with a fine up to $5,000, or imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year.
- Internationally speaking, countries like China and Saudi Arabia have no specific laws for animal cruelty.
- Countries like India, Germany, France, Taiwan, Sweden, and Switzerland, all have laws that state that animal cruelty is a punishable offense and attracts fines and prison sentences, which differ according to the countries.
There are many organizations like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States, the American Humane Society (AHA), The Blue Cross, and the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPCA), to name a few, who are constantly fighting for animal rights.
THE LATEST STATISTICS
- More than 100 million animals suffer and die every year in chemical, cosmetic, food and drug tests, and biology lessons on account of dissection, etc. They are poisoned, burned, crippled, and abused in other ways.
- Circus elephants are often kept chained up for as long as 23 hours a day, right from the time they are babies.
- Each year, approximately 10,000 bulls die in bullfights.
- 4 to 5 million animals die every year in shelters.
- 1-day-old calves are given milk replacements (including cattle blood) so that their mother's milk can be sold to humans.
- A Canadian police study found that 70 percent of people arrested for animal cruelty had past records of other violent crimes.
- In 2007, pit bulls were the victims in 25 percent of reported dog abuse cases.
- 71% of women who were victims of domestic violence reported that their abuser had injured, killed, maimed, or threatened family pets for revenge or to control them psychologically.
- The government of Netherlands conducted a study into the state of circus animals, after which it banned all animal circuses. It obtained the following findings.
» 65% of the wild animals, like tigers, lions, and elephants, were starved or malnourished.
» 35% of wildcats and animals like lions and tigers were not provided an outdoor enclosure or their natural habitat.
» 70% of the observed animals had medical problems.
» Elephants were kept chained for more than 18 hours a day, while lions were made to spend about 98% of their time indoors.
SIGNS OF CRUELTY
- The animal has a severe flea or tick infestation.
- The animal is wounded, injured, limping, bleeding, has missing hair patches or matted hair, looks filthy, lethargic, or is smelling.
- The animal has been wounded or sick for a while, but has not received any veterinary care.
- The animal has been chained up in a yard, has been left alone for a long period of time, or seems to have been left unfed and without water.
- The animal has been left outside in very hot or cold weather, chained up, or kept in an enclosure without proper shelter.
- The animal looks thin, emaciated, starved, and underfed.
- You see an owner or any other person physically injuring any animal intentionally.
- Animals that cower out of fear or try to attack and react aggressively are most probably being abused.
HOW YOU CAN STOP THIS SHAME
There are many steps that you can undertake to stop, prevent, or report any instances of animal cruelty in your neighborhood or anywhere else if you see it.
- Report any abuse that you see. For this, look up any local organizations in your area that respond to these instances, and keep their contact numbers with you. If there are no such organizations or you have witnessed cruelty in an area where you do not reside, call 911.
- Give as much proof as you can. If you have a cell phone inbuilt with a camera or a video recorder, then take photos or record the abuse. Be sure to also record the abuser's face and the abuser in action.
- Animal abuse may be difficult to look at, but don't turn away. MAKE THE CALL. As far as possible, know which neighbors of yours have pets so that it is easier for you to understand if there is any cruelty going on.
- You can also volunteer and donate to shelters, and even sponsor or foster abused or abandoned animals from these shelters until they find loving homes. Sometimes, these animals need expensive medical treatment. You can pay for those as well if it is possible.
- Very importantly, teach your children that it is not okay to hurt animals. They should be loved, respected, and cared for instead, because they have feelings just like we do.
- You can fight for or support the passing of anti-cruelty laws in your state. Set an example for other people by helping animals.
- Another good idea is to start a Neighborhood Watch Program to keep a look out for any instances of animal abuse in the neighborhood.
- Finally, if you feel that something is wrong or suspicious, then verify whether there is some form of animal cruelty going on, or call up the authorities and voice your concern. Do not wait or brush it off as just a doubt, as your action may help save an innocent animal's life.
There are many people who are fighting for those animals who are denied their basic and fundamental right of living equally with humans on this planet. But what about those thousands who cannot be rescued? People need to rise and fight for these abused animals so that the perpetrators can be punished, and the animals can finally get the justice that they deserve. Volunteering, adopting, donating, rescuing, or simply reporting an abuse can help save at least one life today. So, help stop this menace by raising your voice against it and taking steps to prevent it.