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Animal Cruelty Laws

This article was approved by Jim Adler

Pet owners around the world agree that pets are truly members of the family. Whether they’re cats, dogs, or even hamsters, animals may be treated in a way that is comparable to the way that a parent treats a child. For most people, this happens naturally as they develop a strong emotional bond with the animal. They grow to love the animal and want to provide a comfortable and happy life for them. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. In some instances, animals, even those living within homes as pets, are subjected to acts of animal cruelty. Because animals are helpless creatures, this is a heinous crime.

What Is Animal Cruelty?

Animal cruelty may be defined in a number of different ways in the eyes of the law. Essentially, causing an intentional injury to an animal or withholding proper care is considered to be animal cruelty. Animal cruelty, or animal abuse, can be violent in nature, where the abuse is physical and involves things such as kicking, hitting, or throwing the animal. This may or may not result in a serious injury to the animal, but in either case, it is against the law. Other times, animal abuse can be nonviolent. Not giving a pet food, water, or medical attention that it needs is also considered animal cruelty. This type of animal cruelty is known as neglect. Both violent, physical abuse against animals and neglecting an animal’s basic needs are against the law.

Facts About Animal Cruelty

Abusing an animal is not only against the law; it is simply wrong. People are often much stronger than animals that are kept as pets, which means that a person who is abusing an animal is abusing something that is helpless. Those who abuse helpless creatures are much more likely to be involved in other criminal activities, even abuse toward other humans. In fact, studies have shown that around 71 percent of domestic violence victims state that the person who caused an injury to them also abused animals that were in the home. In combination with abusing other adults, people who abuse animals are also more likely to abuse children as well as be involved with drug and alcohol abuse. Children who witness animal abuse on a regular basis are also more likely to participate in the abuse, which makes them more susceptible to leading a criminal lifestyle as they grow older.


When animal cruelty is suspected or witnessed firsthand, it is necessary to speak up on behalf of the animal. Animals are unable to seek help for themselves, so it becomes a human responsibility to end this abuse. While it is important to report violent or neglectful acts against animals, it is also important to ensure that personal safety is kept in mind. A person should never try to stop an animal from being abused if it will put their own life in jeopardy. In these cases, it is best to contact the police or an animal control center instead of directly confronting the abuser. The police or animal control center will be able to stop the abuse in a way that is safe for everyone involved.

State Laws

While all states have their own laws regarding animal cruelty, they all agree that deliberately causing an injury to an animal or not providing an animal with food or water is illegal. These charges can be considered a felony in all states. The penalties for animal abuse or neglect vary, and some animal activists argue that some states do not offer enough protection for animals. Generally, the states of Illinois, Maine, and Oregon are considered to have the strictest laws against animal abuse, offering the most protection for animals. States including Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico, however, are criticized for being the worst states for animal protection.

More Information

Animal abuse does not only occur in the United States. It is a sad fact that cruelty to animals happens all over the world. The most common victims of animal abuse are dogs, many of which are pit bulls. This is because dog fighting is used as a form of entertainment and profit in the criminal world. Dog fighting is illegal and immoral, however, and if it is suspected, the police should be contacted immediately. It is important to keep in mind that dogs are not the only animals that are abused. Cats are the second most commonly abused animals, but horses, livestock, and small pets are also subjected to abuse. As animal abuse is a good predictor of other criminal behavior, it is important to seek help for the animal, the abuser, and those around the abuser before the situation progresses.

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