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Animal Cruelty: What You Need to Know

Animal cruelty is a tough topic to discuss, however; education and awareness are key to addressing the problem.

Most cases of animal cruelty go unreported and not prosecuted; thus, the full scope of the problem can be difficult to determine.

All 50 states support tougher laws that make severe cases of neglect, inhumane treatment, and abuse punishable as felonies. In 2016, the FBI added animal cruelty as a category in the Uniform Crime Report so cases can be tracked nationwide.

But we have a long way to go. Challenges persist with thriving puppy mills, mental health contributing to neglect, and lax livestock protection enabling inhumane treatment.

How Violence Relates to Cruelty

Awareness and reporting cases of suspected cruelty are key. There is a strong correlation between violence against humans and animal abuse. Ten million Americans are assaulted annually, and 71% report physical abuse and torture of an animal at the hands of their abuser. In 88% of homes under investigation for child abuse, pet abuse has also occurred. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate between people and animals; animal cruelty and neglect cross all social, economic, and geographical borders. If you see something or suspect violence against humans or animals, say something.

Organized Cruelty

Dogfighting and cockfighting are still prevalent, with police and public officials implicated in some cases of corruption and bribery. Some animals are bred specifically for dogfighting like certain bully breeds. Exploited animals may have a long history of physical injuries like sores, fractures, and scarring. They may have been emaciated, heavily chained, and show signs of aggression or fear. Other criminal activities such as gambling, drug trafficking, and firearm distribution may occur in organized cruelty.

Puppy Mills

The breeding, brokering, transport, and resale of animals through pet stores undoubtedly lead to abuse and neglect. Puppy mills house breeding animals in unsanitary conditions with limited space, overcrowded kennels, poor grooming and medical care, a lack of socialization, and malnutrition. Without regard for health or happiness, puppies are prematurely separated from their mothers, transported in tight quarters without temperature regulation, and isolated for days at a time. Puppy mills are a for-profit industry. Physical abuse and neglect are the norm because they prioritize breeding so many dogs in one place.

Animal Neglect

Animal neglect can present in many ways and results from a lack of education. Owners who are misinformed or lack financial resources and support may not provide access to balanced, nutritious food, clean water, or proper grooming. Egregious forms of neglect such as leaving a pet tied outdoors in hot weather or allowing a collar to grow into the skin tell the story of a pet owner who just doesn’t care. Hoarding disorders may develop from unmet mental health or social needs. The acquisition of too many pets causes parasite control, grooming, sanitation, and provision for shelter and nutrition to fall by the wayside.

What Can You Do?

If you suspect an animal is being abused or neglected, contact animal control, the police, and a local humane organization. Removing an animal yourself is illegal and may lead to the perpetrator seeking revenge or acquiring another animal. Document evidence of the abuse, witnesses, and your communication with authorities in words and pictures. Make copies of any reports. Follow up with the investigating officer to see how the case is progressing. Be ready to testify or provide a statement if an abuse case will be prosecuted.

If you feel like an animal or person is in immediate danger, call 911. Report cruelty seen on the internet or social media to the local police. The FBI has a special complaint department called the Internet Crime Complaint Center where you can report evidence of abuse.

Here are some other ways you can help address animal cruelty in your community:

  • Teaching kids to respect animals and how to engage with them in a loving, gentle way.
  • Providing low-cost resources for preventative care, training, spaying, and neutering deepens the bond between pet and owner and decreases pet overpopulation.
  • Promoting pet adoption and avoiding purchasing a pet from unethical breeders and pet stores.
  • Volunteering at your local shelter and supporting initiatives that push for stronger penalties for animal abusers.
  • Reporting cases of abuse to the local media to draw attention to the topic of animal cruelty in your community.

Preventing abuse from occurring is always the end goal. It’s important to educate the public and new pet owners on the proper health and care of pets.

View our Pet Wellness Videos for more expert pet advice.

At Pet Butler, we want you and your pet to live your best and healthiest lives, which is why we offer Pet Waste Removal and Pet Care services year-round. We offer weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and one-time clean-up services to meet your schedule and needs.

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