What is Animal Cruelty?
Animal cruelty is any act of violence or neglect perpetrated against animals. Examples include overt animal abuse, dog and cock fighting, and animal neglect where the animal is denied basic necessities of care such as fresh water, food and/or shelter. Animals are covered by state animal cruelty laws, which vary from state to state and county to county. The Humane Society works to educate people about the proper care of animals and how to prevent animal cruelty. Animal cruelty can be divided into two general categories: neglect and intentional cruelty.
Neglect is the failure to provide an animal with the most basic requirements of food, water, shelter, shade and/or veterinary care. Neglect may be due to ignorance on the owner’s part and is usually handled by requiring the owner to correct the situation. If the problem is not corrected, the animal may be removed from the neglectful person by law enforcement authorities.
Intentional cruelty is often more shocking than neglect and is frequently an indicator of a serious human behavior problem. Intentional cruelty is when an individual purposely inflicts physical harm or injury on an animal. Animal investigators, with the help of concerned citizens, have arrested individuals who have deliberately maimed, tortured and/or killed animals. 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. Someone who is violent towards animals may be violent towards family members or others.
What are some signs of animal abuse or neglect?
- The animal lacks access to food, water and shelter.
- The animal has matted or missing hair, thin in appearance, has apparent sores, etc.
- The animal’s collar is embedded in their skin.
- The animal is filthy (i.e. fecal matter caked on feet, around the anus, etc).
- The animal may have persistent and varying injuries.
- There may be a history of previous pets that have disappeared or died at a young age.
- The owner has a large number of animals that appear to be lacking basic care.
- The owner appears to lack concern about the animal’s health problems.