There are many reasons behind animal abuse. It could be done unintentionally or intentionally. But the question is how correct or how wrong it is? Both morally and practically.
“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”
Animals are, in my opinion, the most innocent and loving creatures on the planet. Unless provoked, they will never intentionally harm humans, for fun or any other reasons, like humans harm these trusting and vulnerable creatures, as and when they feel like. Under tags like testing of medicines for the advancement in treatments for human benefit, humans take undue advantage of their superior position to (ab)use animals.
Any treatment of animals, that includes negligence to care for them the way they need to be cared for, or that causes them harm, falls under the category of animal abuse. Animal abuse can be classified into two separate categories.
Classification of animal abuse
First is active abuse of animals. Active form of abuse involves direct cruelty to animals. It is when an individual purposely tries to cause harm to an animal, like torturing or beating it.
The other is passive abuse includes lack of care or negligence towards pets. This happens as a result of inaction. Generally, it has been observed that such a situation arises when the pet owner is not aware of or does not bother to take proper care of the pet’s needs for food, shelter, medical attention etc.
Reasons for Animal Abuse
Studies on the reasons behind animal cruelty have exposed a number of motives on the part of abusers. These include giving pain and suffering to animals for some specific benefit or hurting animals for pleasure, apathy towards the suffering of animals, etc.
Most people relate to animals as their source of food. While meat eating cannot exactly be classified as animal abuse, people associated with the trading of animals for human consumption, treat animals most cruelly. Animals in the rearing farms live in very poor conditions. They are not fed properly or reared in unhygienic conditions, or taken care of medically, i.e. vaccinated, treated for diseases or injuries, etc. Traders are least bothered, as they are more concerned with their profits.
Animal abuse during the production of films is common all over the world, including some big budget Hollywood movies. Many a time it has been alleged that the kind of treatment meted out to animals during the process of film-making, is objectionable. Serious harm has been caused to animals including death. Similarly, animals are badly exploited in circuses. The working conditions as well as living conditions in circuses are not at all suitable for the health and survival of animals.
Yet, there are no laws to ban the use of animals in circuses. Also, events like rodeo, bull-fighting, cock-fighting, etc. are all inhumane activities encouraged by man for his entertainment without sparing a thought for the animals and their suffering.
Testing in Animal Labs
Animals are tested in labs to find cures for human diseases. These animals are infected on purpose to see if the treatments invented to treat these conditions work. They have their bones broken like humans may suffer in accidents, just to experiment with new and improved medications. These poor creatures aren’t even sedated. Not that then it would be alright to use them for any cruel purpose! Nothing justifies animal testing. Some of stories about animal abuse in testing labs are spine-chilling.
The activities related to intentional abuse have deep connections to some severe psychological problems. Surveys conducted on psychiatric patients reveal that people with psychopathic personality disorders have a tendency to torture pets and other small animals. This type of behavior is termed as zoosadism. It’s often found that children and adolescents who show cruelty towards their pet dogs and cats have actually undergone some abusive behavior themselves or have witnessed some forms of abuse.
Poaching and Hunting
Although hunting animals is illegal, there are ways to flout the law, as poachers know. Leopards, cheetahs, crocodiles, snakes, cattle and alligators for their skin, minks, foxes, beavers, jackals, rabbits, skunks, possums, etc. for fur, elephants for ivory, tiger nails, feathers, horns, bones of animals etc. are used for the purposes of jewelry, making various instruments and decorative pieces, bone fertilizers, etc.
Animals are skinned alive for the fur and skin, and many times they are bashed to death. What does this say about humans? And where is the conscience of the people who are initiating such acts of violence against animals?
Animal abuse can be reduced to a great extent, if people stop treating animals as their personal property. They end up abusing animals more because of their attitude that animals are needed either as food or as companions or for entertainment. Animal rights is as important an issue as Human Rights, and the issue of animal abuse should be given its due importance by punishing people who abuse animals the same way that people who abuse other humans or kids are punished! Only then is there any hope of reducing, and eventually stopping animal abuse. As long as the perpetrators are allowed to roam free, and not made to account for their acts of violence or negligence towards these innocent creatures who look to them for love and care, there is no way this can be stopped.
Strict laws need to be put in place to protect these loving creatures who are at our mercy. The way we treat creatures which are at our mercy, reveals our true character. As Milan Kundera says in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, “Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.”
“Of all the creatures, man is the most detestable. Of the entire brood, he is the only one that possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.”