What About the Animals?

Picture1  While the media focuses on issues that are seemingly important such as health care and the deaths of celebrities, there are issues that are overlooked that are equally, if not more, important. Most people have seen the commercials fighting animal abuse with the sad looking animals, and while people feel bad, they never truly understand the stories of these poor pets. For most people, it’s hard to even believe that someone could ever harm an innocent animal, unaware of why it’s receiving any sort of punishment. Although it is almost impossible to be able to stop all cases of animal abuse, it can still be reduced. The definition of animal abuse is not providing a safe and nurturing environment for animals to live in, something that should be naturally done. 

The people who are committing these unthoughtful abominations are normally convicted of other crimes as well. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 71% of domestic violence victims report that their abuser also targeted their household pet, an easy target. The most common animals who fall victim to pet abuse are dogs, making up 64.5% of the abused animals in 2007 according to the Humane Society of the United States. 18% of cases involved cats and 25% involved other animals. 

Picture2There are many different types of abuse with pets, varying from actual violence to neglect and using animals to benefit the humans own advantages. Dog fighting is very commonly reported in urban and rural areas. It not only is extremely cruel to force the animals to fight each other for one’s own entertainment, but it also ruins the dog for the rest of their lives, making them unable to be domesticated. Puppy mills are another form of abuse, forcing dogs to live in small cages to give birth to puppies which are then sold to make the owner money. Many of these dogs also develop illnesses, such as kidney and heart diseases, from the conditions they are forced to live in. According to the organization Do Something, every year there are between 900 to 2,000 reported cases of animal hoarding, with a quarter of a million animals falling victim. Unknown to the public, even big businesses commit animal cruelty by testing their products on animals, killing over 100 million animals every year, including mice, rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, birds, and others. Even rodeos, which all Texans love, can be a form of abuse. They create a stressful and scary environment for the animals involved, which are trained to be calm and obedient. Zoos can also be considered unfair treatment for animals who are meant to roam in the wild, keeping them in small enclosures for human entertainment. 

Picture3Animal abuse should be considered just as bad as domestic violence. Animals are unable to speak up for themselves and are forced to deal with punishment that they don’t understand. There is no national reporting system for animal abuse, leaving people who find these cases not knowing what to do. The biggest issue is that the majority of cases go unreported, forcing animals to continue with their abuse and suffering. While there are laws against animals abuse, the implications are minor. The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 is the only Federal Law in the United States which regulates the treatment of animals. There are countless laws against domestic violence, making it well known around the nation. So why is violence against animals so unknown? If the punishment against the animal abusers was stronger then maybe the number of animal victims would go down. 

Browning S. (December, 2013)

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About Dr. Ostroff
Head of Upper School at The Emery/Weiner School in Houston, TX

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