Cruelty to animals
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Cruelty to animals, also called animal abuse, animal neglect or animal cruelty, is the infliction by omission (animal neglect) or by commission by humans of suffering or harm upon any non-human. More narrowly, it can be the causing of harm or suffering for specific achievement, such as killing animals for food, for their fur or even their tusks; opinions differ about the extent of cruelty associated with a given method of slaughter. Cruelty to animals sometimes encompasses inflicting harm or suffering as an end in itself, defined as zoosadism. With approximately 65 billion animals killed annually for food, farm animals are the most numerous animals subjected to cruelty.
Divergent approaches to laws concerning animal cruelty occur in different jurisdictions throughout the world. For example, some laws govern methods of killing animals for food, clothing, or other products, and other laws concern the keeping of animals for entertainment, education, research, or pets. There are a number of conceptual approaches to the issue of cruelty to animals.
For example, the animal welfare position holds that there is nothing inherently wrong with using animals for human purposes, such as food, clothing, entertainment, fun and research, but that it should be done in a way that minimizes unnecessary pain and suffering, sometimes referred to as "humane" treatment.
Utilitarian advocates argue from the position of costs and benefits and vary in their conclusions as to the allowable treatment of animals. Some utilitarians argue for a weaker approach which is closer to the animal welfare position, whereas others argue for a position that is similar to animal rights. Animal rights theorists criticize these positions, arguing that the words "unnecessary" and "humane" are subject to widely differing interpretations, and that animals have basic rights. They say 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 a substance or as a non-living thing.
- 1 Definition and viewpoints
- 2 Forms
- 2.1 Industrial animal farming
- 2.2 Welfare concerns of farm animals
- 2.3 Alleged link to human violence and psychological disorders
- 2.4 Cultural rituals
- 2.5 TV and film making
- 2.6 Circuses
- 2.7 Bullfighting
- 2.8 Rattlesnake round-ups
- 2.9 Warfare
- 2.10 Unnecessary scientific experiments or demonstrations
- 2.11 No pet policies and abandonment
- 3 Laws by country
- 3.1 Africa
- 3.2 Americas
- 3.3 Asia
- 3.4 Europe
- 3.5 Oceania
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
Definition and viewpoints
Throughout history, humans believed in a God-given right to treat nonhuman animals with cruelty; however, some individuals, like Leonardo da Vinci for example, who once purchased caged birds in order to set them free, were concerned. His notebooks also record his anger with the fact that humans used their dominance to raise animals for slaughter. According to contemporary philosopher Nigel Warburton, for most of human history the dominant view has been that animals are there for humans to do with as they see fit.
René Descartes believed that non-humans are automata — complex machines with no soul, mind, or reason. In Cartesian dualism, consciousness was unique to human among all other animals and linked to physical matter by divine grace. However, close analysis shows that many human features such as complex sign usage, tool use, and self-consciousness can be found in some animals.
Charles Darwin, by presenting the theory of evolution, revolutionized the way that humans viewed their relationship with other species. Darwin believed that not only did human beings have a direct kinship with other animals, but the latter had social, mental and moral lives too. Later, in The Descent of Man (1871), he wrote: "There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties."
Some philosophers and intellectuals, such as Peter Singer and Tom Regan, have argued that animals' ability to feel pain as humans do makes their well-being worthy of equal consideration. There are many precursors of this train of thought. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, famously wrote in his An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789):
The question is not, can they reason nor can they talk? but, can they suffer?
These arguments have prompted some to suggest that animals' well-being should enter a social welfare function directly, not just indirectly via its effect only on human well-being. In one survey of United States homeowners, 68% of respondents said they actually consider the price of meat a more important issue.
Animal cruelty can be broken down into two main categories: active and passive. Passive cruelty is typified by cases of neglect, in which the cruelty is a lack of action rather than the action itself. Oftentimes passive animal cruelty is accidental, born of ignorance. 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.
Industrial animal farming
Farm animals are generally produced in large, industrial facilities that house thousands of animals at high densities; these are sometimes called factory farms. The industrial nature of these facilities means that many routine procedures or animal husbandry practices impinge on the welfare of the animals and could arguably be considered as "cruelty", with Henry Stephen Salt claiming in 1899 that "it is impossible to transport and slaughter vast numbers of large and highly-sensitive animals in a really humane manner". It has been suggested the number of animals hunted, kept as companions, used in laboratories, reared for the fur industry, raced, and used in zoos and circuses, is insignificant compared to farm animals, and therefore the "animal welfare issue" is numerically reducible to the "farm animal welfare issue". Similarly, it has been suggested by campaign groups that chickens, cows, pigs, and other farm animals are among the most numerous animals subjected to cruelty. For example, because male chickens do not lay eggs, newly hatched males are culled using macerators or grinders. Worldwide meat overconsumption is another factor that contributes to the miserable situation of farm animals. Many undercover investigators have exposed the animal cruelty taking place inside the factory farming industry and there is evidence to show that consumers provided with accurate information about the process of meat productions and the abuse that accompanies it has led to changes in their attitudes.
The American Veterinary Medical Association accepts maceration subject to certain conditions, but recommends alternative methods of culling as more humane. Egg-laying hens are then transferred to "battery cages" where they are kept in high densities. Matheny and Leahy attribute osteoporosis in hens to this caging method. Broiler chickens suffer similar situations, in which they are fed steroids to grow at a super-fast speed, so fast that their bones, heart and lungs often cannot keep up. Broiler chickens under six weeks old suffer painful crippling due to fast growth rates, whilst one in a hundred of these very young birds dies of heart failure.
To reduce aggression in overcrowded conditions, shortly after birth piglets are castrated, their tails are amputated, and their teeth clipped. Calves are sometimes raised in veal crates, which are small stalls that essentially immobilize calves during their growth, reducing costs and preventing muscle development, making the resulting meat a pale color, preferred by consumers.
Animal cruelty such as soring, which is illegal, sometimes occurs on farms and ranches, as does lawful but cruel treatment such as livestock branding. Since Ag-gag laws prohibit video or photographic documentation of farm activities, 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.
Welfare concerns of farm animals
The following are lists of invasive procedures which cause pain, routinely performed on farm animals, and housing conditions that routinely cause animal welfare concerns. It is arguable whether these practices constitute cruelty to animals.
|Egg laying hens||
|Goats and sheep|
|Ducks and Goose||
- 'Blinders' or 'spectacles' are included as some versions require a pin to pierce the nasal septum.
- 'Dubbing' is the procedure of removing the comb, wattles and sometimes earlobes of poultry. Removing the wattles is sometimes called "dewattling".
- 'Desnooding' is the removal of the snood, a fleshy appendage on the forehead of turkeys.
- 'Marking' is the simultaneous mulesing, castration and tail docking of lambs.
- 'Mulesing' is the removal of strips of wool-bearing skin from around the breech (buttocks) of a sheep to prevent flystrike (myiasis)
Conviction statistics are thought by some to show people convicted for animal cruelty to be more likely to be violent to humans, leading experts to believe that decreasing animal abuse will, in turn, decrease domestic violence. Meanwhile, others explain apparent correlation by criminal courts more often convicting the former for the latter crime as a self-fulfilling prophecy, without any actual link between the two types of actions. Others argue that psychiatry and other authorities outside of courts keep records of who have been cruel to animals and can make biased guesses about whether or not they did violence to humans thereafter and also that they conversely record people who have been violent to humans and can be more biased towards later assuming them to have been cruel to animals, explaining apparent links by institutional bias without link between the actions themselves.
Another criticism of these studies is the definition of cruelty as "socially disapproved behavior". Piers Bierne, for instance, has criticized existing studies for ignoring socially accepted practices (such as animal slaughter and vivisection) that might be linked to violence against humans.
Intentional acts of cruelty can lead to multiple years behind bars. These acts (of intentional animal cruelty or 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 is sometimes used as a form of intimidation in domestic disputes.
A history of torturing pets and small animals, a behavior known as zoosadism, is considered one of the signs of certain psychopathologies, including antisocial personality disorder, also known as psychopathic personality disorder . 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, behavior considered to be one of the signs 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.
Many times, when Asiatic elephants are captured in Thailand, handlers use a technique known as the training crush, in which "handlers use sleep-deprivation, hunger, and thirst to 'break' the elephants' spirit and make them submissive to their owners"; moreover, handlers drive nails into the elephants' ears and feet.
The practice of cruelty to 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 and 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. Court decisions have addressed films that harm animal such as videos that in part depict dogfighting.
The American Humane Association (AHA) has been associated with monitoring American filmmaking since after the release of the 1939 film Jesse James, in which a horse was pushed off a plank and drowned in a body of water after having fallen 40 feet into it. Initially, monitoring of animal cruelty was a partnership between the AHA and officials in the Hays Office through the Motion Picture Production Code. Provisions in the code discouraged "apparent cruelty to children and animals", and because the Hays Office had the power to enforce this clause, the American Humane Association (AHA) often had access to sets to assess adherence to it. However, because the American Humane Association's Hollywood office depended on the Hays Office for the right to monitor sets, the closure of the Hays Office in 1966 corresponded with an increase in animal cruelty on movie sets.
By 1977, a three-year contract was in place between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists which specified that the American Humane Association should be "consulted in the use of animals 'when appropriate'", but the contract did not provide a structure for what "appropriate" meant, and had no enforcement powers. This contract expired in 1980.
One of the most infamous examples of animal cruelty in film was Michael Cimino's flop Heaven's Gate (1980), 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. This film played a large part in renewed scrutiny of animal cruelty in films, and led to renewed official on-set jurisdiction to monitor the treatment of animals by the AHA in 1980.
After the release of the film Reds (1981), 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 (1988) and The 13th Warrior (1999) were being filmed. An ox was sliced nearly in half during production of Apocalypse Now (1979), while a donkey was bled to death for dramatic effect for the Danish film Manderlay (2005), in a scene later cut from the film.
There is a case of cruelty to animals in the South Korean film The Isle (2000), according to its director Kim Ki-Duk. In the film, a real frog is skinned alive while fish are mutilated. Seven animals were killed for the camera in the controversial Italian film Cannibal Holocaust (1980). 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. 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 23 September 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. Numerous instances of animal abuse in circuses have been documented such as 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 on fact, including beliefs that shouting makes the animals believe the trainer is going to hurt them, that caging is cruel and common, and the harm caused by the use of whips, chains or training implements.
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 antitaurismo.
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".
Rattlesnake round-ups, also known as rattlesnake rodeos, are annual events common in the rural Midwest and Southern United States, where the primary attractions are captured wild rattlesnakes which are sold, displayed, killed for food or animal products (such as snakeskin) or released back into the wild. The largest rattlesnake round-up in the United States is held in Sweetwater, Texas. Held every year since 1958, the event currently attracts approximately 30,000 visitors per year and in 2006 each annual round-up was said to result in the capture of 1% of the state's rattlesnake population. Rattlesnake round-ups became a concern by animal welfare groups and conservationists due to claims of animal cruelty and excessive threat of future endangerment. In response, some round-ups impose catch-size restrictions or releasing captured snakes back into the wild.
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 US Marine David Motari 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.
Unnecessary scientific experiments or demonstrations
Under all three of the conceptual approaches to animal cruelty discussed above, performing unnecessary experiments or demonstrations upon animals that cause them substantial pain or distress may be viewed as cruelty. Due to changes in ethical standards, this type of cruelty tends to be less common today than it used to be in the past. For example, schoolroom demonstrations of oxygen depletion routinely suffocated birds by placing them under a glass cover, and animals were suffocated in the Cave of Dogs to demonstrate the density and toxicity of carbon dioxide to curious travellers on the Grand Tour.
No pet policies and abandonment
Many apartment complexes and rental homes institute no pet policies. No pet policies are a leading cause of animal abandonment, which is considered a crime in many jurisdictions. In many cases, abandoned pets have to be euthanized due to the strain they put on animal shelters and rescue groups. Abandoned animals often become feral or contribute to feral populations. In particular, feral dogs can pose a serious threat to pets, children, and livestock. Feral cats are known to hunt endangered birds and have interbred with wild cat populations.
In Ontario, Canada, no pet policies are outlawed under the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Act and are considered invalid even when a tenant signs a lease that includes a no pets clause. Similar legislation has also been considered in Manitoba.
Laws by country
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 Protection Act No 71 of 1962 in South Africa covers "farm animals, domestic animals and birds, and wild animals, birds, and reptiles that are in captivity or under the control of humans."
The Act contains a detailed list of prohibited acts of cruelty including overloading, causing unnecessary suffering due to confinement, chaining or tethering, abandonment, unnecessarily denying food or water, keeping in a dirty or parasitic condition, or failing to provide veterinary assistance. There is also a general provision prohibiting wanton, unreasonable, or negligible commission or omission of acts resulting in unnecessary suffering. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for 2013/14 to 2016/17 mentions updating animal protection legislation.
196. Ill-treatment of Domestic Animal.
- Whoever cruelly beats, tortures or otherwise willfully ill-treats any tame, domestic or wild animal, which has previously been deprived of its liberty, or arranges, promotes or organizes fights between cocks, rams, bulls or other domestic animals or encourages such acts, commits an offence, and upon conviction, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two months or with a fine.
197. Riding and Neglect of Animal.
- Whoever wantonly rides, overdrives or overloads any animal or intentionally drugs or employs any animal, which by reason of age, sickness, wounds or infirmity is not in a condition to work, or neglects any animal in such a manner as to cause it unnecessary suffering, commits an offence, and upon conviction, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or with a fine or with both.
In Canada, it is an offence under the Criminal Code to intentionally cause unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal. Poisoning animals is specifically prohibited. It is also an offence to threaten to harm an animal belonging to someone else. Most provinces and Territories also have their own animal protection legislation.
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 2014, the top four jurisdictions were Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia. The worst four were Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Nunavut.
Law 20380 established sanctions including fines, from 2 to 30 Mensual Tributary Units, and prison, from 541 days to 3 years, for those involved in acts of animal cruelty. Also, it promotes animal care through school education, and establishes a Bioethics Committee to define policies related to experiments with animals.
In Colombia, there is little 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.
A new bill has been presented to the Costa Rican legislative assembly to better define animal cruelty and establish harsher punishments for the abuse of animals. Exceptions for events deemed "traditional", such as horse parades, rodeos and Tico-style bullfights are not provided in the bill's draft which may see motions filed against its passing. The bill had stalled its motion through legislators until notorious toucan Grecia was found having lost half its top beak. The news and images of the injured toucan produced enough contributions to create a 3D printing prosthesis for the bird and rallies in the country's capital for action in relation to the animal cruelty bill.
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 31 January 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 2013'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 in 2013 were Kentucky, Iowa, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
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 the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010, which criminalized the recording, sale, and transport of videos depicting animal cruelty as obscenity, is in violation of the First Amendment. Judge Lake noted that obscenity tests require an explicitly sexual depiction, which the criminalized videos lack. This follows the precedent set by United States v. Stevens, which additionally held that restrictions on the possession of animal cruelty videos were unconstitutional.
State welfare laws
Several states have enacted or considered laws in support of humane farming.
- On 5 November 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 14 January 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 9 May 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 7 November 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 28 June 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 14 May 2008, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed into law a bill, SB 201, that phases out gestation crates and veal crates.
Venezuela published a "Law for Protection of Domestic Fauna free and in captivity" in 2010, defining responsibilities and sanctions about animal care and ownership. Animal cruelty acts are fined, but are not a cause for imprisonment. The law also forbids the possession, breeding and reproduction of pit bull dogs, among similar breeds that are alleged to be aggressive and dangerous. It elicited reactions from dog owners, who said that aggressiveness in dogs is determined more by treatment by the owner than by the breed itself.
As of 2006 there were no laws in China governing acts of cruelty to animals. There are no government supported charitable organizations like the RSPCA, which monitors the cases on animal cruelty. All kinds of animal abuses, such as to fish, tigers, and bears, are to be reported for law enforcement and animal welfare.
Despite the absence of a unified law against animal mistreatment, the World Animal Protection notes that some legislation protecting the welfare of animals exists in certain contexts, especially ones used in research and in zoos.
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.
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 1989. 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."
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. This amendment is currently awaiting ratification from the Government of India. The 1962 Act in the meanwhile is the one that is practiced as of now. The maximum penalty under the 1962 Act is Rs. 50 (under $1). Many organizations, including ones such as the local SPCA, PFA and Fosterdopt are actively involved in assisting the general population in reporting cruelty cases to the police and helping bring the perpetrator to justice. Due to this, much of change has been observed through the subcontinent.
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.
South Korea's animal welfare laws are weak by international standards.
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.
Thailand introduced its first animal welfare law in 2014. The Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animal Act, B.E. 2557 (2014) came into being on 27 December 2014.
The European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC is a directive passed by the European Union on the minimum standards for keeping egg laying hens which effectively bans conventional battery cages. The directive, passed in 1999, banned conventional battery cages in the EU from 1 January 2012 after a 13-year phase-out.
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 Euros to a maximum of 160,000 Euros, as for the law n°189/2004.
The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 came into force in 2014, improving animal protection. The maximum penalty is up to €250,000 and up to 5 years in prison. Sentences of up to 3 years have been imposed in several cases.
Since 1 October 2014, violence against animals has been a crime in Portugal. Legislation published in the Diário da Républica on 29 August criminalizes the mistreatment of animals, and indicates that "those who, without reasonable cause, inflict pain, suffering, or any other hardship to a companion animal abuse" are to be subject to imprisonment of up to one year. If such acts result in the "death of the animal", the "deprivation of an important organ or member", or "serious and permanent impairment of its capacity of locomotion", those responsible will be punished by imprisonment up to two years.
As for pets, the new law provides that "whoever, having the duty to store, monitor or pet watch, abandons them, thereby putting in danger their food and the provision of care owed" faces up to six months imprisonment.
In Sweden cruelty to animals is punishable by financial penalty and prison for up to 2 years. The owner will lose the right to own animals and the animals will be removed from the owner.
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.
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.
On 18 August 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 Metropolitan 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 Protection of Animals Act 1911 has since been largely superseded by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which also superseded and consolidated more than 20 other pieces of legislation, including the Protection of Animals Act 1934 and the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960. The Act introduced the new welfare offence, which means that animal owners have a positive duty of care, and outlaws neglecting to provide for their animals' basic needs, such as access to adequate nutrition and veterinary care.
Under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, domestic animals can be classed as property that is capable of being "damaged or destroyed". A charge of criminal damage may be appropriate for the injury or death of an animal owned by someone other than the defendant, although prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 may also be appropriate.
In Australia, all states and territories have enacted legislation governing animal welfare. The legislations are:
- Animal Welfare Act 1992 (ACT)
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW)
- Animal Welfare Act (NT)
- Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld)
- Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA)
- Animal Welfare Act 1993 (Tas)
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (Vic)
- Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA)
Welfare laws have been criticized as not adequately protecting 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.
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