The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that about two million animals suffer abuse or die in cases related to human persecution or neglect. This in perspective means that at the end of the five minutes you will take to read this, another animal will have become a victim of animal abuse.
Cruelty to animals or animal abuse refers to intentional infliction of harm or suffering upon any non-human animal and for reasons other than self-defense or survival. In almost all instances, human beings inflict such harm so they can gain in the process, and their acts in certain instances, may be as extreme as killing the animal in question for either food or other animal products.
Forms of Animal Cruelty
All cruelty cases facing animals are sad and call for change. The initial step in creating this much-needed change is identifying and acknowledging the said threats. The said cases are diverse and include dog fighting, puppy mills, factory farms, animal hoarding, horse slaughter and many such disheartening incidences. Though people convicted of animal abuse go to jail, a lot remains undone to bring the menace to a halt successfully.
This is a blood sport where people force dogs to fight each other as a form of entertainment and a way of profiting from the spectators. It is a heinous form of animal abuse because such dogs are always isolated and spend a better part of their lives in short, heavy chains. Moreover, some pet owners even use drugs such as anabolic steroids to encourage aggressiveness and improve muscle mass.
These refer to establishments set up for mass production of puppies. The top priority for such mass dog breeding facilities is profits; the well-being of the dogs as such, takes a back seat. To maximize profits, puppy mills house dogs in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions where adequate veterinary care, water, food and even socialization among the animals is unheard of. Moreover, female dogs often breed at every chance with little or no recovery time allowed between litters.
America imports about 150,000 horses annually, a huge portion of these get to the slaughterhouse and end up as human food. Horse slaughter does not by any chance refer to euthanasia, which is a gentle and painless process administered to prevent or minimize suffering. Slaughter is brutal and often times terrifying and may not necessarily consider an animal’s condition. Pregnant mares, foals and blind or injured horses as such, may meet their death through slaughter.
This describes a situation where an individual houses more animals than he or she is aptly able to care for. Clearly, hoarding is a complex issue that summons concerns for the mental health, public safety and welfare of the animals in question. Hoarding essentially constitutes inability to offer proper shelter, sanitation, veterinary care and nutrition. As a result, animals in such care often starve, fall ill or even die.
Laws related to animal abuse
The first major law on animal welfare, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA), required that animals be rendered insensible to all forms of pain before shackling, hoisting, throwing, casting or cutting them. The said law further stipulated the appropriate slaughter methods for various animal species. HMSA’s enforcement was however questionable because it lacked appropriate implementation mechanisms.
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) of 1966 and lastly amended 2007, now is the sole federal law regulating treatment of animals for whatever reason. Such reasons may include research, transport, exhibition and even dealership. Though this law is the minimum acceptable standard, it falls short in several instances. For instance, animal rights groups criticize it because they feel it should include provisions for birds, mice and rats bred for the purposes of research.
The law also shows little regard for animals raised for food and fiber and, all cold-blooded animals for that matter. However, the law’s bounds as described in its content cover care standards that extend from humane handling to housing, feeding and sanitation. This law also defines the minimum standards for animal shelter even under extremes of weather as well as requisite veterinary care.
Enforcement of AWA is the preserve of three entities in the US; Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Animal Care Agency.
Despite this elaborate law, its bounds do not cover or offer guidelines on the living conditions of farm animals. This earned the US a grade D on animal protection index based on the county’s policies towards animals in general.
While states enforce the AWA and even have additional statutes on anti-animal cruelty, such laws do not cover a host of animal farming practices considered inhumane. Such practices include intensive confinement, removal of parts of the body without applying anesthesia, forced feeding, inhumane killing of piglets by banging their heads on the ground, grinding male chicks to death, separating calving cows from their young and systematic starvation.
What you can do to help
As a keen citizen eager to see change in the manner animals are handled, the available options open to you are limitless. You can adopt any of these so that people responsible can treat animals a lot more humanely. Such options include working with organizations that help create humane conditions for animals, fundraise for or donate to such organizations as well as adopting pet.
Working with animal care agencies
You can help by joining advocacy centers and be part of teams that enact meaningful legal structures for protecting animals. You can also help inspire other people by reporting animal cruelty and sharing your stories of animals you save in the process. Moreover, you have a responsibility as a conscious citizen, to learn the packaging languages various food companies use. This will help ensure that you can make decisions that are animal welfare conscious whenever you visit the grocery store.
Fundraise or donate to animal welfare foundations
Countless animal abuse foundations work painstakingly hard to improve the living conditions of animals. You can support such a cause by making one time or periodic cash donations, buying honor or memorial gifts or donating an asset. Such foundations have online presence and, you can use such to make your contributions. Alternatively, you can use a site like LoveApparel+, which is an online platform that allows users to contribute to whatever cause by purchasing cause-themed organic apparel.
Animals are beautiful and play a great role in making your environment even greater. They too, deserve the best their environments have to offer. While there are laws in place to help ensure that people convicted of animal abuse go to jail; there is more that you can do to supplement the reach of such law so to help give animals, humane living conditions.