Animal Abuse

By: Kaylee Thompson

What is Animal Abuse

The infliction of physical pain, suffering or death upon an animal, when not necessary for purposes of training or discipline or (in the case of death) to procure food or to release the animal from incurable suffering, but done wantonly, for mere sport, for the indulgence of a cruel and vindictive temper, or with reckless indifference to its pain.

When Somebody Loved Me - Song from Toy Story 2


  • 64.5% (1,212) involved dogs

  • 18% (337) involved cats

  • 25% (470) involved other animals

  • Reported abuse against pit bull-type dogs appears to be on the rise: in 2000–2001, pit bull-type dogs were involved in 13% of reported dog-abuse cases; in 2007, they were involved in 25% of reported dog-abuse cases.

Top 5 Types of Abuse

  • 32% neglect or abandonment

  • 12% hoarding

  • 11% shooting

  • 9% fighting

  • 7% beating

Types of Animal Abuse

  • Animal Cruelty is broken down into two categories: active and passive.

  • Active cruelty is generally neglect. Examples are starvation, dehydration, parasite infestation, etc.

  • Passive Cruelty is abuse with malicious intent. People who maliciously abuse animals have been linked to being a sociopath.


Animals feel pain and fear like we do, but they are helpless victims. Abuse causes these innocent animals to endure so much pain, suffering, and loneliness, it can also cause an animal to become depressed, timid, or even aggressive.

Most Common Victims of Animal Abuse

  • Horses

  • Livestock

  • Dogs

  • Cats

  • Birds

? Why People Do It ?

  • Emotional & communication barriers between humans and animals
  • Ignorance
  • Personal gain & pleasure
  • Believing abuse is justified
  • Lack of empathy
  • Animals suffer in silence
  • They are defenseless, making an easy target
  • Little or no consequences for perpetrators
  • Traditions, customs or rituals
  • Desire to assert power or authority

Some Facts

In the year 2007, there were around 1,880 animal abuse cases reported. Of these 1, 212 dogs were reported with some sort of animal cruelty cases. 337 cats suffered at the hands of mindless humans and over 470 other animal species were reported to have suffered from some sort of cruelty.

In Maine, animal abusers can face felony charges, go to prison, be forced to give up their animals, pay restitution, veterinary costs and boarding fees, face mandatory counseling, and most importantly, could be banned from owning animals ever again.

Steps to Reporting Animal Abuse

Step#1 Evaluate the Situation

Maybe it only looks like neglect. Look more closely at different times of day.

Maybe the food and water bowls are kept inside, away from bugs and freezing temperatures. Maybe your neighbor goes to work at 3 a.m. and feeds the dog then. Maybe there’s a dog door you can’t see.

Look for....

  • No Shelter
  • Collar too Tight
  • Lack of Grooming
  • Mange
  • Starvation

Step#2 Report Animal Abuse

If you witness animal abuse or neglect, report it to your local animal control, law enforcement or humane organization. If these authorities agree that there's the possibility of neglect or abuse, they will investigate and decide how to help the animal.

Don't try to rescue a pet from a potentially abusive or neglectful environment yourself. Not only is this illegal and potentially unsafe, but you haven't stopped the owner from getting another pet to abuse, or helped turn him into a caring, responsible owner.

Step#3 Understanding the Law

Anti-cruelty laws vary from state to state, and sometimes from city to city or county to county. The legal definitions of abuse, neglect or appropriate conditions may differ. The penalties for animal abuse may also differ.

Understand that once you have reported potential animal abuse or neglect, the investigating officer may not be able to discuss the specifics of the case with you. But that does not mean he’s not working on it

Step#4 Help Prevent Animal Abuse

The key to preventing abuse is stronger anti-cruelty laws -- laws that empower effective enforcement and include harsh penalties. Serious penalties can inhibit cruelty and, with the addition of counseling as a penalty, can stop the incidents from being repeated by offenders.

You can help prevent these cruel acts by informing others about what to do if they see such an act or by helping them to better understand how to train and care for their pets.

Now when you see a neglected or abused animal, you can take action. Don't hesitate. Your call could save a life