Cruelty to animals
Cruelty to animals, also called animal abuse or animal neglect, is the infliction of suffering or harm upon non-human animals, for purposes other than self-defense or survival. More narrowly, it can be harm for specific gain, such as killing animals for food or for their fur, although opinions differ with respect to the method of slaughter. It usually encompasses inflicting harm for personal amusement or to fulfill zoosadistic impulses. Diverging viewpoints are held by jurisdictions throughout the world.
Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to the issue. The animal welfare position holds that there is nothing inherently wrong with using animals for human purposes, such as food, clothing, entertainment, and research, but that it should be done in a humane way that minimizes unnecessary pain and suffering. Animal rights theorists criticize this position, arguing that the words "unnecessary" and "humane" are subject to widely differing interpretations, and that the only way to ensure protection for animals is to end their status as property, and to ensure that they are never used as commodities. Laws concerning animal cruelty are designed to prevent needless cruelty to animals, rather than killing for other aims such as food, or they concern species not eaten as food in the country involved, such as those regarded as pets.
Many jurisdictions around the world have enacted statutes which forbid cruelty to some animals but these vary by country and in some cases by the use or practice.
Egyptian law states that anyone who inhumanely beats or intentionally kills any domesticated animal may be jailed or fined. The Egyptian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was established by the British over a hundred years ago, and is currently administered by the Egyptians. The SPCA was instrumental in promoting a 1997 ban on bullfighting in Egypt.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund releases an annual report ranking the animal protection laws of every province and territory based on their relative strength and general comprehensiveness. In 2011 the top four, for their strong anti-cruelty laws, were Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The worst four were Alberta, Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Nunavut.
In Colombia there is little to no control over cruel behaviors against animals, and the government has proposed that bullfighting be declared a "Cultural Heritage"; other cruel activities like cockfighting are given the same legal treatment.
In criminal law, the situation is different. In December 2012, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District reformed the existing Penal Code of Mexico City, establishing abuse and cruelty to animals as criminal offenses, provided the animals are not deemed to be plagues or pests. Abandoned animals are not considered to be plagues. A subsequent reform was entered into force on January 31, 2013, by a decree published in the Official Gazette of the Federal District. The law provides penalties of 6 months to 2 years imprisonment, and a fine of 50 to 100 days at minimum wage, to persons who cause obvious injury to an animal, and the penalty is increased by one half if those injuries endanger its life. The penalty rises to 2 to 4 years of prison, and a fine of 200 to 400 days at minimum wage, if the person intentionally causes the death of an animal.
This law is considered to extend throughout the rest of the 31 constituent states of the country. In addition, The Law of Animal Protection of the Federal District is wide-ranging, based on banning "unnecessary suffering". Similar laws now exist in most states.
The primary federal law relating to animal care and conditions in the US is the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, amended in 1970, 1976, 1985, 1990, 2002 and 2007. It is the only Federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Other laws, policies, and guidelines may include additional species coverage or specifications for animal care and use, but all refer to the Animal Welfare Act as the minimum acceptable standard.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund releases an annual report ranking the animal protection laws of every state based on their relative strength and general comprehensiveness. In 2010's report, the top five states for their strong anti-cruelty laws were Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, and California. The five states with the weakest animal cruelty laws were Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho, Mississippi, and Iowa.
In 2004, a Florida legislator proposed a ban on "cruelty to bovines," stating: "A person who, for the purpose of practice, entertainment, or sport, intentionally fells, trips, or otherwise causes a cow to fall or lose its balance by means of roping, lassoing, dragging, or otherwise touching the tail of the cow commits a misdemeanor of the first degree." The proposal did not become law.
In the United States, ear cropping, tail docking, rodeo sports, and other acts are legal and sometimes condoned. Penalties for cruelty can be minimal, if pursued. Currently, 46 of the 50 states have enacted felony penalties for certain forms of animal abuse. However, in most jurisdictions, animal cruelty is most commonly charged as a misdemeanor offense. In one recent California case, a felony conviction for animal cruelty could theoretically net a 25 year to life sentence due to their three-strikes law, which increases sentences based on prior felony convictions.
In 2003, West Hollywood, California passed an ordinance banning declawing of house cats. In 2007, Norfolk, Virginia passed legislation only allowing the procedure for medical reasons. However, most jurisdictions allow the procedure.
In April 2013, Texas Federal Court Judge Sim Lake ruled that videos showing cruelty to animals are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution despite laws against cruelty to animals and evidence that cruelty to animals can be a precursor to cruelty to human beings as well as murder. A petition has been launched to reverse this ruling.
State welfare laws
Several states have enacted or considered laws in support of humane farming.
- On November 5, 2002, Florida voters passed Amendment 10 by a margin of 55% for, amending the Florida Constitution to ban the confinement of pregnant pigs in gestation crates.
- On January 14, 2004, the bill AB-732 died in the California Assembly's Agriculture Committee. The bill would have banned gestation and veal crates, eventually being amended to include only veal crates. On May 9, 2007, the bill AB-594 was withdrawn from the California State Assembly. The bill had been effectively killed in the Assembly Agriculture Committee, by replacing the contents of the bill with language concerning tobacco cessation coverage under Medi-Cal. AB-594 was very similar to the current language of Proposition 2.
- On November 7, 2006, Arizona voters passed Proposition 204 with 62% support. The measure prohibits the confinement of calves in veal crates and breeding sows in gestation crates.
- On June 28, 2007, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed a measure into law prohibiting the confinement of pigs in gestation crates (SB 694, 74th Leg. Assembly, Regular Session).
- In January 2008, Nebraska State Senate bill LB 1148, to ban the use of gestation crates for pig farmers, was withdrawn within 5 days amidst controversy.
- On May 14, 2008, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed into law a bill, SB 201, that phases out gestation crates and veal crates.
As of 2006 there were no laws in China governing acts of cruelty to animals. In certain jurisdictions such as Fuzhou, dog control officers may kill any unaccompanied dogs on sight. However, the People's Republic of China is currently in the process of making changes to its stray-dog population laws in the capital city, Beijing. Mr. Zheng Gang who is the director of the Internal and Judicial Committee which comes under the Beijing Municipal People's Congress (BMPC), supports the new draft of the Beijing Municipal Regulation on Dogs from the local government. This new law is due to replace the current Beijing Municipal Regulation on Dog Ownership, introduced in 1889. The current regulation talks of "strictly" limiting dog ownership and controlling the number of dogs in the city. The new draft focuses instead on "strict management and combining restrictions with management." There are no government supported charitable organizations like the RSPCA, which monitors the cases on animal cruelty, so that all kinds of animal abuses, such as to fish, tigers, and bears, are to be reported for law enforcement and animal welfare.
In September 2009, legislation was drafted to address deliberate cruelty to animals in China. If passed, the legislation would offer some protection to pets, captive wildlife and animals used in laboratories, as well as regulating how farm animals are raised, transported and slaughtered.
As of 2010, Hong Kong has supplemented or replaced the laws against cruelty with a positive approach using laws that specify how animals should be treated. The government department primarily responsible for animal welfare in Hong Kong is the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).
Laws enforced by the AFCD include these:
- the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance (also enforced by the police)
- the Public Health (Animals and Birds) Ordinance (including regulations for licences imposed on livestock keepers and animal traders and a Code of Standards for Licensed Animal Traders)
- the Dogs and Cats Ordinance
- the Pounds Ordinance
- the Rabies Ordinance
- the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance
In addition, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) does the following:
- enforces the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance, which includes regulations for slaughterhouses and wet markets
- publishes a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Food Animals (which describes their transport)
- publishes Operational Guidelines for the Welfare of Food Animals at Slaughterhouses
The Department of Health does the following:
- enforces the Animals (Control of Experiments) Ordinance.
- publishes a Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Experimental Purposes
As of 2006, Hong Kong has a law titled "Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance", with a maximum 3 year imprisonment and fines of HKD$200,000.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960 was amended in the year 1982. According to the newly amended Indian animal welfare act,2011 cruelty to animals is an offence and is punishable with a fine which shall not be less than ten thousand Rupees,which may extend to twenty five thousand Rupees or with imprisonment up to two years or both in the case of a first offence.In the case of second or subsequent offence,with a fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand Rupees, but may extend to one lakh Rupees and with imprisonment with a term which shall not be less than one year but may extend to three years.
In Japan, the 1973 Welfare and Management of Animals Act (amended in 1999 and 2005) stipulates that "no person shall kill, injure, or inflict cruelty to animals without due course", and in particular, criminalises cruelty to all mammals, birds, and reptiles possessed by persons; as well as cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, dogs, cats, pigeons, domestic rabbits, chickens, and domestic ducks regardless of whether they are in captivity.
- Killing or injuring without due reason: up to one year's imprisonment with labour or a fine of up to one million yen
- Cruelty such as causing debilitation by discontinuing feeding or watering without due reason: a fine of up to five hundred thousand yen
- Abandonment: a fine of up to five hundred thousand yen
Separate national and local ordinances exist with regards to ensuring health and safety of animals handled by pet shops and other businesses.
Animal experiments are regulated by the 2000 Law for the Humane Treatment and Management of Animals, which was amended in 2006. This law requires those using animals to follow the principles outlined in the 3Rs and use as few animals as possible, and cause minimal distress and suffering. Regulation is at a local level based on national guidelines, but there are no governmental inspections of institutions and no reporting requirement for the numbers of animals used.
Veterinarian Lana Dunn and several Saudi nationals report that there are no laws to protect animals from cruelty since the term is not well-defined within the Saudi legal system. They point to a lack of a governing body to supervise conditions for animals, particularly in pet stores and in the exotic animal trade with East Africa.
The Taiwanese Animal Protection Act was passed in 1998, imposing fines up to NT$250,000 for cruelty. Criminal penalties for animal cruelty were enacted in 2007, including a maximum of 1 year imprisonment.
Under Turkey's Animal Protection Law No. 5199, cruelty to animals is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine only, with no jail time or a black mark on one's criminal record. HAYTAP, the Animal Rights Federation in Turkey, believes that the present law does not contain a strong enough punishment for animal abusers.
Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and Austria have all banned battery cages for egg-laying hens. The entire European Union is phasing out battery cages by 2012. It is also illegal in many parts of Europe to declaw a cat.
In France, cruelty to animals is punishable by imprisonment of two years and a financial penalty (30,000 €).
In Germany, killing animals or causing significant pain (or prolonged or repeated pain) to them is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years or a financial penalty. If the animal is of foreign origin, the act may also be punishable as criminal damage.
Acts of cruelty against animals can be punished with imprisonment, for a minimum of three months up to a maximum of three years, and with a fine ranging from a minimum of 3.000,00 Euro to a maximum of 160.000,00 Euro, as for the law n°189/2004. The law was passed mainly to crush the phenomenon of dog fighting, which in Italy is a clandestine blood sport fully controlled by organized crime.
The Swiss animal protection laws are among the strictest in the world, comprehensively regulating the treatment of animals including the size of rabbit cages, and the amount of exercise that must be provided to dogs.
On August 18, 1911, the House of Commons introduced the Protection of Animals Act 1911 (c.27) following lobbying by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The maximum punishment was 6 months of "hard labour" with a fine of 25 pounds.
In the London Police Act 1839, "fighting or baiting Lions, Bears, Badgers, Cocks, Dogs, or other Animals" was prohibited in London, with a penalty of up to one month imprisonment, with possible hard labour, or up to five pounds. The law laid numerous restrictions on how, when, and where animals could be driven, wagons unloaded, etc.. It also prohibited owners from letting mad dogs run loose and gave police the right to destroy any dog suspected of being rabid or any dog bitten by a suspected rabid dog. The same law prohibited the use of dogs for drawing carts. Up until then, dogs were used for delivering milk, bread, fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, animal food (the cat's-meat man), and other items for sale and for collecting refuse (the rag-and-bone man). As Nigel Rothfels notes, the prohibition against dogs pulling carts in or near London caused most of the dogs to be killed by their owners as they went from being contributors to the family income to unaffordable expenses. Cart dogs were replaced by people with handcarts. About 150,000 dogs were killed or abandoned. Erica Fudge quotes Hilda Kean:
At the heart of nineteenth-century animal welfare campaigns is the middle-class desire not to be able to see cruelty.—Hilda Kean, Animal Rights, 1998
The Protection of Animals Act 1911 extended the ban on draft dogs to the rest of the kingdom. As many as 600,000 dogs were killed or abandoned.
The Act of 1911 has now been replaced by the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
In Australia, many states have enacted legislation outlawing cruelty to animals, however, it is argued[by whom?] that welfare laws do not adequately extend to production animals. Whilst police maintain an overall jurisdiction in prosecution of criminal matters, in many states officers of the RSPCA and other animal welfare charities are accorded authority to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty offenses.
In theory and practice
There are many reasons why individuals abuse animals. Animal cruelty covers a wide range of actions (or lack of action). Learning about animal abuse has revealed patterns of behavior employed by abusers.
Animal cruelty is often broken down into two main categories: active and passive, also referred to as commission and omission, respectively.
Passive cruelty is typified by cases of neglect, in which the cruelty is a lack of action rather than the action itself. Examples of neglect are starvation, dehydration, parasite infestations, allowing a collar to grow into an animal’s skin, inadequate shelter in extreme weather conditions, and failure to seek veterinary care when necessary.
In many cases of neglect in which an investigator believes that the cruelty occurred out of ignorance, the investigator may attempt to educate the pet owner, then revisit the situation. In more severe cases, exigent circumstances may require that the animal be removed for veterinary care.
Acts of intentional animal cruelty (sometimes referred to as "Non-Accidental Injury") may be indicators of serious psychological problems. According to the American Humane Association, 13% of intentional animal abuse cases involve domestic violence. As many as 71% of pet-owning women seeking shelter at safe houses have reported that their partner had threatened and/or actually hurt or killed one or more of their pets; 32% of these women reported that one or more of their children had also hurt or killed pets. Battered women report that they are prevented from leaving their abusers because they fear what will happen to the animals in their absence. Animal abuse sometimes is used as a form of intimidation in domestic disputes.
One of the known warning signs of certain psychopathologies, including antisocial personality disorder, also known as psychopathic personality disorder, is a history of torturing pets and small animals, a behavior known as zoosadism. According to the New York Times, "[t]he FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appears in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders. "A survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found all of them had high levels of aggression toward people as well, including one patient who had murdered a young boy." Robert K. Ressler, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's behavioral sciences unit, studied serial killers and noted,"Murderers like this (Jeffrey Dahmer) very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids."
Cruelty to animals is one of the three components of the Macdonald triad, indicators of violent antisocial behavior in children and adolescents. According to the studies used to form this model, cruelty to animals is a common (but not universal) behavior in children and adolescents who grow up to become serial killers and other violent criminals.
It has also been found that children who are cruel to animals have often witnessed or been victims of abuse themselves. In two separate studies cited by the Humane Society of the United States roughly one-third of families suffering from domestic abuse indicated that at least one child had hurt or killed a pet.
The practice of torturing animals for divination purposes is found in ancient cultures, and some modern religions such as Santeria continue to do animal sacrifices for healing and other rituals. Taghairm was performed by ancient Scots to summon devils.
TV & film making
Animal cruelty has long been an issue with the art form of filmmaking, with even some big-budget Hollywood films receiving criticism for allegedly harmful—and sometimes lethal—treatment of animals during production. One of the most infamous examples of animal cruelty in film was Michael Cimino's legendary flop Heaven's Gate, in which numerous animals were brutalized and even killed during production. Cimino allegedly killed chickens and bled horses from the neck to gather samples of their blood to smear on actors for Heaven's Gate, and also allegedly had a horse blown up with dynamite while shooting a battle sequence, the shot of which made it into the film. After the release of the film Reds, the star and director of the picture, Warren Beatty apologized for his Spanish film crew's use of tripwires on horses while filming a battle scene, when Beatty wasn't present. Tripwires were used against horses when Rambo III and The Thirteenth Warrior were being filmed. An ox was sliced nearly in half during production of Apocalypse Now, while a donkey was bled to death for dramatic effect for the film Manderlay, in a scene later cut from the film.
Cruelty in film exists in movies outside the United States. There is a case of cruelty to animals in the South Korean film The Isle, according to its director Kim Ki-Duk. In the film, a real frog is skinned alive while fish are mutilated. Several animals were killed for the camera in the controversial Italian film Cannibal Holocaust. The images in the film include the slow and graphic beheading and ripping apart of a turtle, a monkey being beheaded and its brains being consumed by natives and a spider being chopped apart. In fact, Cannibal Holocaust was only one film in a collective of similarly themed movies (cannibal films) that featured unstaged animal cruelty. Their influences were rooted in the films of Mondo filmmakers, which sometimes contained similar content. In several countries, such as the UK, Cannibal Holocaust was only allowed for release with most of the animal cruelty edited out.
More recently, the video sharing site YouTube has been criticized for hosting thousands of videos of real life animal cruelty, especially the feeding of one animal to another for the purposes of entertainment and spectacle. Although some of these videos have been flagged as inappropriate by users, YouTube has generally declined to remove them, unlike videos which include copyright infringement.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) has contracted with the American Humane Association (AHA) for monitoring of animal use during filming or while on the set. Compliance with this arrangement is voluntary and only applies to films made in the United States. Films monitored by the American Humane Association may bear one of their end-credit messages. Many productions, including those made in the US, do not advise AHA or SAG of animal use in films, so there is no oversight.
Simulations of animal cruelty exist on television, too. On the September 23, 1999 edition of WWE Smackdown!, a plot line had professional wrestler Big Boss Man trick fellow wrestler Al Snow into appearing to eat his pet chihuahua Pepper.
The use of animals in the circus has been controversial since animal welfare groups have documented instances of animal cruelty during the training of performing animals. The Humane Society of the United States has documented multiple cases of abuse and neglect, and cites several reasons for opposing the use of animals in circuses, including confining enclosures, lack of regular veterinary care, abusive training methods and lack of oversight by regulating bodies. Animal trainers have argued that some criticism is not based in fact, including beliefs that animals are 'hurt' by being shouted at, that caging is cruel and common, and the harm caused by the use of whips, chains or training implements.
In 2009, Bolivia passed legislation banning the use of any animals, wild or domestic, in circuses. The law states that circuses "constitute an act of cruelty." Circus operators had one year from the bill's passage on July 1, 2009 to comply.
In 2010, Lebanese animal rights groups became enraged when it was learned that wild performing animals belonging to the Monte Carlo Circus were transported from Egypt to Lebanon without being provided with food and water.
Following the campaign, new regulations were enacted that prohibit the use of animals in circuses in Israel. Finland and Singapore have restricted the use of animals in entertainment. The UK and Scottish Parliaments have committed to ban certain wild animals in travelling circuses and approximately 200 local authorities in the UK have banned all animal acts on council land. Animal acts are still very popular throughout much of Europe, the Americas and Asia. In the United States animal welfare standards are overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture under provisions of the Animal Welfare Act. Efforts to ban circus animals in cities like Denver, Colorado have been rejected by voters. Some circuses now present animal-free acts.
Bullfighting is criticized by animal rights or animal welfare activists, referring to it as a cruel or barbaric blood sport in which the bull suffers severe stress and a slow, torturous death. A number of activist groups undertake anti-bullfighting actions in Spain and other countries. In Spanish, opposition to bullfighting is referred to as antitaurina.
The Bulletpoint Bullfight warns that bullfighting is "not for the squeamish", advising spectators to "be prepared for blood". It details prolonged and profuse bleeding caused by horse-mounted lancers, the charging by the bull of a blindfolded, armored horse who is "sometimes doped up, and unaware of the proximity of the bull", the placing of barbed darts by banderilleros, followed by the matador's fatal sword thrust. It stresses that these procedures are a normal part of bullfighting and that death is rarely instantaneous. It further warns those attending bullfights to "be prepared to witness various failed attempts at killing the animal before it lies down."
The "Toro Jubilo" or Toro embolado in Soria, Medinaceli, Spain, is a festival associated with animal cruelty. During this festival, balls of pitch are attached to a bull's horns and set on fire. The bull is then released into the streets and can do nothing but run around in pain, often smashing into walls in an attempt to douse the fire. These fiery balls can burn for hours, and they burn the bull's horns, body, and eyes – all while spectators cheer and run around the victim. The animal rights group PACMA has described the fiesta as "a clear example of animal mistreatment", and PETA calls it "a sadistic festival".
||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (March 2010)|
Animal snuff films, known as crush films can be found on the Internet. These films depict instances of animal cruelty, and/or pornographic acts with animals, usually involving the death of an animal, including insects, mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, monkeys, birds, cats, and dogs. In 1999, the U.S. government banned the depiction of animal cruelty; however, the law was overturned by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that the category "depiction of animal cruelty" contained in the law was not an exception to First Amendment protections. In an 8–1 decision handed down in April 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the lower court's ruling, but on the grounds that the law was unconstitutionally broad. The case itself did not involve crush films, but rather, a video that in part depicted dogfighting.
Military animals are creatures that have been employed by humankind for use in warfare. They are a specific application of working animals. Examples include horses, dogs and dolphins. Only recently has the involvement of animals in war been questioned, and practices such as using animals for fighting, as living bombs (as in the use of exploding donkeys) or for military testing purposes (such as during the Bikini atomic experiments) may now be criticised for being cruel. Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, the patron of the British Animals in War Memorial, stated that animals adapt to what humans want them to do, but that they will not do things that they don't want to, despite training. Animal participation in human conflict was commemorated in the United Kingdom in 2004 with the erection of the Animals in War Memorial in Hyde Park, London.
In 2008 a video of a US Marine throwing a puppy over a cliff during the Iraq conflict was popularised as an internet phenomenon and attracted widespread criticism of the soldier's actions for being an act of cruelty.
Farming and ranching
Animal cruelty such as soring, which is legally restricted, sometimes occurs on farms and ranches, as does lawful but cruel treatment such as livestock branding. These practices have been documented by secret photography taken by whistleblowers or undercover operatives from such organizations as Mercy for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States posing as employees. Agricultural organizations such as the American Farm Bureau Federation have successfully advocated for laws that tightly restrict secret photography or concealing information from farm employers.
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