Animal cruelty is defined as any intentional and repeated behavior that causes physical or psychological distress in animals, including, but not limited to, causing unnecessary pain, suffering, distress, or death of an animal.
Preventing animal cruelty is in the best interest of everyone. Studies have shown that when there is animal cruelty happening in the home, it is a sign that other abuse is more likely to happen. Those same studies show that kids who witness this animal abuse are also more likely to abuse animals as well. There is also a great link of animal cruelty that crosses over to human violence as well.
You can contribute by understanding the signs of animal cruelty, know animal welfare laws, and advocate for the rights of animals.
• Lack of grooming (example: overgrown nails/ matted fur)
• Basic needs not met, such as lack of food, water, shelter, and vet care
• Bruises and scarring on skin or visible signs of poor health
• Being kept in unsanitary conditions or extreme temperatures
• Malnourished or dehydrated appearance where bones are visible through fur
Each state in the United States has enacted statutes to punish individuals who engage in animal cruelty. While there are many similar characteristics, the actual codified provisions vary drastically from state to state. States’ Animal Cruelty Statutes provides the statutory text of each state’s animal cruelty statutes, along with the date of its possible expiration.
Take action and advocate for animal rights. There are many advocacy groups and alerts to be aware of. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is the first humane society to be established in North America and is, today, one of the largest in the world. There are tons of resources there to get you started.
If you know someone who is looking for a pet, encourage them to adopt pets from local rescue shelters. Adoption is better than resorting to getting your pet from a puppy mill or breeders who encourage unhealthy incestuous couplings to get an animal with the desired breed qualities. Mutts typically live longer than purebreds and have fewer health issues too.
Local rescue organizations often need help from volunteers or donors. You can help out by donating your time or money to support these organizations. Keep in mind that some rescue groups also need help in the form of donations of pet supplies, such as blankets or toys.
If you see any cases of animal abuse or neglect in your area, make sure that you report them to the proper authorities. This might be local law enforcement, your local animal control agency, a humane organization, or an animal shelter that is funded by local taxpayers. Find out which of these organizations looks into cases of animal cruelty and enforces laws and regulations against it. You can do this by contacting your local animal control agency or a local shelter for more information.
One of the simplest ways to prevent animal cruelty is by raising the next generation of compassionate animal lovers. Enlist the help of your own children or gather a group of local parents who are also interested in preventing cruelty to animals. Offer to supply school libraries with a humane curriculum or volunteer to speak to classes about having empathy for our furry, finned, and scaled friends.
No animal deserves to feel afraid of its owner, nor does any animal deserve to be sick, injured, and neglected at the hands of someone who was supposed to care for them.
If you see signs of cruelty to animals, those animals need your help to get out of a bad situation. Don’t be afraid to speak out on their behalf.