What is animal cruelty?

Animal cruelty is the act of humans inflicting harm and suffering onto an animal. This can include neglect, animal fighting, and overt abuse. In the United States, an animal is abused every ten seconds. Animal protection organizations are working to stop animal cruelty everywhere. Many of these organizations believe in animal rights and animal welfare. Animal rights activists usually go to the extremes, and will even break laws to make a statement to the public. One point of contention for activists is the existence of animal shelters. All animal shelters are not created equal and many are under-staffed and overwhelmed by strays, unwanted or neglected pets. Animals are living creatures and should be protected and treated kindly by humans.

Courts, parents, and schools are starting to realize that shrugging off animal cruelty crimes is a bad idea. Some nations have started to treat animals like living things instead of property (“11 Pros and Cons of Animal Rights”). Courts penalize animal abusers very aggressively. They make the abusers go through psychological evaluations, and examine their families for signs of violence. Some states actually require child/spousal abuse investigators to share information if there has been animal abuse in the home, since animal cruelty ties in with human abuse (“Animal Abuse and Human Abuse: Partners In Crime”). Out of fifty New Jersey families, sixty percent of those who had sought treatment as a result of child abuse, had also abused animals in their homes. In the same study, more than half of the women said that their abuser injured, or threatened their pets. Parents who neglect and abuse animals most times do the same to their children. In one case, authorities found two children and three dogs languishing in Jade Jonas and Michael’s dirty home (“Animal Abuse and Human Abuse: Partners In Crime”). One of the children was a three month old boy, who was found lying near feces, rotten food, and trash. Abusers target the powerless, so crimes against animals go hand in hand with crimes against children, spouses, and the elderly. Children that abuse animals may do so because they have seen abuse happening in their homes.

There are three different forms of animal cruelty, the first form is animal neglect. Animal neglect is when people do not provide the care necessary for their pets. This inadequate care can include not giving the animal a proper amount of food or water, and not providing the animal with veterinary services (“Animal Neglect Law and Legal Definition”). Neglect can also be leaving an animal chained outside for a long time. If the neglect towards an animal is intentional, and can be considered as torture, it can be prosecuted as a felony. Another form of animal cruelty is animal fighting. Attending, sponsoring, or bringing a minor to an animal fight is banned. The FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System added four subcategories for animal fighting. These categories are: animal sexual abuse, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse, and simple/gross neglect (“Federal Anti-Cruelty Laws”). Animal fighting can also lead to more crimes including drug dealing, money laundering, and gambling. Under the commerce clause, Congress has the power to prohibit the use of an “instrumentality of interstate commerce” for selling animals and training instruments, and for transporting animals. The last form of animal abuse is overt abuse or, intentional cruelty. This is when someone inflicts harm onto an animal on purpose. This behavior indicates a serious problem with the human’s mental health (“What Constitutes Animal Cruelty?”).

Kill vs. no kill shelters have been a very controversial topic. A no kill shelter is when euthanasia is not an option, even if the animal is not adopted in a certain amount of time (“No-Kill Shelters Vs. Traditional Shelters). No kill shelters are usually closed admission, which means that they are not required to accept every animal that comes to their shelter. Animals that have life threatening illnesses, or animals that can not be saved can be turned away by the shelter. They also have a zero euthanasia policy, which can mean they will let sick animals suffer (Yaste). If an animal is too old or sick, and there is not enough room, they could refuse to take them in. Most of the time the no kill shelters will also not provide spaying or neutering, shots, and other important medical procedures (“No-Kill Shelters Vs. Traditional Shelters). The animals in no kill shelters are usually healthier, and more energetic than in kill shelters.

Many people have disagreed with no kill shelters, and believe in kill shelters. Kill shelters care for all animals and will euthanize animals if necessary. Unlike some no kill shelters, kill shelters will take all animals no matter their health situation. They are also more realistic when it comes to knowing when animals need to be euthanized (“No-Kill Shelters Vs. Traditional Shelters”). Many people assume that all kill shelters euthanize animals after a certain time. This is true in some kill shelters, but not all of them. Kill shelters can be that they can overcrowd easily from taking in all animals, and animals can be forced to have poor living conditions if there is not enough room in the shelter (Yaste).

The public and media has continually used animal rights and animal welfare interchangeably, but they are in fact two very different things. Animal rights groups believe animals should not use animals for any use such as, clothing, food, research, companionship, exhibition, entertainment, hunting, selective breeding, etc. Animals used for entertainment includes marine parks, zoos, and circuses (“Animal Rights”). Animal welfare groups allow all of those things to be done, as long as the animals are treated humanely. They also believe that animals should have rights equal to humans. Animal rights can change the world of medications and animal testing. Many research projects test products on animals first, and that data may help researchers improve their understanding about medications to benefit humans (“11 Pros and Cons of Animal Rights”). On the other hand, animal testing does not guarantee safety. Medications that are safe for animals can be unsafe for humans. There are enough differences in animals and humans to get unreliable data from animal testing. Giving animal rights also causes a need for more law enforcement since more people would be in prison for animal related charges (“11 Pros and Cons of Animal Rights”). Animal testing requires a lot of money, and many tests do not result in a working product. These funds can be used for other things such as, feeding the hungry. Sixteen billion dollars is spent on animal testing each year in the United States (“11 Pros and Cons of Animal Rights”). Half of the money for animal testing can make 40 billion meals. If an animal has been given great treatment all of their lives and then killed in a humane way, it is still considered wrong to animal rights activists. Another big factor that plays into animal rights is that we would not be able to eat meat anymore (“Animal Rights”). There is not enough land to provide the vegetables we need for the whole world if we cannot eat meat. Animal rights activists get a lot of help with their mission of abolishing animal use for good because many Americans today have no experience with hunting, harvesting, and food production (Montgomery). The publics distance from agriculture is increasing which lets animal rights extremists sway the populations view on animal’s roles. Since most of our diet comes from animals, animal rights would completely change the agricultural community (11 Pros and Cons of Animal Rights”). Many people believe rights have a meaning only in a moral community, and animals are not apart of that community because they lack moral judgement. A moral community is a group of beings that live with each other and they understand rules and morals (“Animal Rights”).

Animal welfare is how an animal is coping with its living conditions. Animal welfare groups are happy when animals are healthy, comfortable, and not experiencing any pain in their lifetime. They allow all of the things animal rights groups are against, as long as it is done humanely (“Animal Welfare: What Is It?”). The American Veterinary Medical Association sees animal welfare as a responsibility for humans, to make sure that their animals have proper nutrition, care, disease prevention, housing, disease treatment, and if necessary, humane euthanasia. Animal welfare believers do not think that animals should have the same rights as humans, unlike animal rights believers (Montgomery). The American Veterinary Medical Association provides eight principles for evaluating animal welfare policies and actions. They believe the veterinary profession should continue to improve animal health and welfare through collaboration, the development of legislation and regulations, advocacy, education, and research. Decisions regarding animal use should be made by considering ethical values, and scientific knowledge (“Animal Welfare: What Is It?”). All animals should be provided with proper handling and health care, food, water, and an environment that fits their needs. Humans should try to minimize any stress, pain, suffering, and fear for an animal. Anything related to animal care, housing, and management should be evaluated when pointed out, developed, or replaced (“Animal Welfare: What Is It?”). The use of animals for human purposes, such as food, companionship, work, fiber, recreation, research, exhibition, and education for the benefit of both animals and humans, is consistent with the Veterinarian’s Oath. Management of animal populations should be responsible and humane. Animals should be treated with respect and when necessary, be provided with a humane death (“Animal Welfare: What Is It?”).

Household items, food, and medicines have to undergo animal testing before it is legal to be available for the public. Scientists use the information from these tests to cure and prevent diseases, but also to study how the human body functions. Many people are against these tests and believe that it is immoral and unreliable. However, others believe that we would not have the kinds of medicines we have today without the use of animals. Both sides of the argument have pros and cons to them. Negative aspects of animal testing is that it is unethical, old fashioned, and bad science. It is believed to be unethical because U.S. laws for animals in laboratories allow animals to be shocked, addicted to drugs, burned, starved, brain- damaged and poisoned. Between 2010 and 2014, half a million animals were used in painful experiments without any pain relief (“Animal Testing is Bad Science: Point/Counterpoint”). Animals can also be in cages inside laboratories all of their lives for the benefit of humans. Another reason against animal testing is that it is old fashioned. Animals should not be used for research because it is old fashioned. Testing on animals is unnecessary when test methods exist today that replace the need for animals (“Should Animals be Used for Scientific or Commercial Testing?”). Researchers can now test products without the use of animals by using artificial skin. Money used on animal tests could have been used to create new alternatives like artificial skin. In 2016, 7.3 million tax payer dollars were used for animal testing (“Should Animals be Used for Scientific or Commercial Testing?”). Finally, testing on animals can be bad science. Using animals to test products can be very unreliable because animals react differently to them than humans do, in most cases. A lot of drugs that pass tests in animals fail when tested on humans (“Should Animals be Used for Scientific or Commercial Testing?”). For example, a sleeping pill in the 1950s caused 10,000 babies to have deformities, but tests on pregnant animals did not cause birth defects. Nine out of ten drugs that pass animal tests are not successful in humans, and many drugs that work in humans can not even be used if it does not pass animal tests. (“Should Animals be Used for Scientific or Commercial Testing?”). On the other hand, others believe that animal testing is a good thing. One major positive of animal testing is that it helps researchers find treatments and new drugs to improve medicine. Insulin, vaccines, cancer and HIV drugs, and antibiotics were made possible by animal testing. Another positive is that researchers, when testing new drugs, can have a trial on animals before testing it on humans (Murnaghan). Some people believe it will be more unethical to use humans to test new products before testing it on animals first, especially when the experiments can result in death. One positive of animal testing for researchers is that some animals have shorter life spans, which makes it easier to research the effects of a product their whole life, or even continue onto more generations. Rodents, like mice, are commonly used partly because their life span is 2-3 years. Another positive some people believe is that few animals are used in research compared to how much animals we consume (“Should Animals be Used for Scientific or Commercial Testing?”). Humans consume 1,800 times the amount of pigs than the number of animals used in research. Animals are the closest living things to humans. Some people believe that human lives are more valuable than animal lives, making it acceptable to use animals to learn more about medicine, and how living systems react to different products (14 Pros and Cons of Animal Research).

Animal cruelty is a growing problem in this world, and can be committed in many different ways. These ways include neglect, animal fighting, and overt abuse. No matter how the abuse is committed, it is still wrong to harm living creatures. Some people view kill shelters as animal cruelty, and prefers no kill shelters. On the other hand, others believe that no kill shelters are cruel for the reason that they will let animals suffer if they are sick or old. Animal rights activists believe that animals should just be left alone completely and not be in shelters or used for clothing, food, research, companionship, exhibition, entertainment, hunting, selective breeding, etc. Animal welfare activists focus on the well-being of an animal. They believe that animals can be used for all of those things as long as they are treated humanely. Animal welfare activists are happy when animals are provided with the necessary care. This care includes providing food, water, proper handling, health care, and an environment that fits the animal’s needs. Animal testing is another controversial topic because many people view it as cruel and unnecessary, but others believe it is better to test on animals, rather than humans. Some also believe that animal testing is the reason why we have had some important medical breakthroughs.

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