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As news reports and undercover investigations reveal, animal abuse occurs with troubling regularity in the United States. No species of animal seems to be immune from this cruelty: from companion animals to circus animals to farmed animals, animal abuse is an increasingly concerning issue.

Perhaps more concerning is how little protection and justice animals are afforded under the law. Very often, animal abuse is simply ignored by authorities. When it is charged as a crime, defendants often get away with insignificant misdemeanor convictions and trivial fines as their only punishment. For example, a New Jersey woman who starved her dog, stuffed him into a trash bag, dumped him into a garbage disposal, and left him to die only received a $2,000 fine and 18 months of probation for her crime. In another case, workers who viciously kicked, stomped on, and beat dairy cows at an Idaho dairy farm received nothing more than minuscule $500 fines.

These disproportionate results may be because historically, animal abuse has not been considered a particularly serious crime. However, there are a number of reasons why animal abuse should be taken much more seriously and considered a “violent crime” deserving of stronger punishment.

What is a “Violent Crime?”

A “violent crime” is one where the victim of the crime is harmed by or threatened with violence. Under U.S. law, violent crimes include murder, rape, sexual assault, robbery, and assault. Such crimes are considered especially serious and are thus closely tracked by law enforcement and typically punished more harshly than other crimes.

Currently, a violent crime only qualifies as such if the victim of the crime is a human being. This means that an act of violence committed against an animal – no matter how egregious – is not technically considered a violent crime, and it is not punished as such.

Why Isn’t Animal Abuse Currently Considered a Violent Crime?

Astonishingly, animals are still considered property under the law, much the same as a table or chair. Because violent crimes contemplate harms committed against people and not against property, animal abuse does not qualify as a violent crime, despite the fact that animal abuse very obviously involves violence.

Instead, animal abuse is often treated as an infraction or low-level misdemeanor, typically punished by no more than a fine and probation.

Animal Abuse Should be Considered a Violent Crime!

There are a number of very important reasons that animal abuse should be considered a violent crime in our legal system.

First, we know based on personal experience and countless scientific studies that animals are not things. They are nothing like other “property” such as tables and chairs. Animals are sentient beings with the ability to feel a range of emotions, and they are harmed both physically and psychologically by violent abuse, much as human beings are. They deserve to be treated under the law as the complex creatures that they are.

Second, animal abuse is strongly linked with other forms of abuse, such as domestic violence and child abuse. One study found that animal abuse occurred in 88 percent of homes where child abuse had been discovered. Another study found that up to 83 percent of women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abusers also abuse the family pet. In fact, animal abusers are five times more likely to abuse people.

Changing the Law to Change Public Perception

By classifying animal abuse as a violent crime and tracking and punishing it accordingly, we will protect both helpless animals and the people animal abusers are more likely to abuse. While it is incredibly important to appropriately punish animal abusers this change would play an even larger role in the way we regard animals in our society.

When we consider the harm done to animals as equal to the harm done to members of our own species, we can begin to change cultural perceptions of animals and one day upgrade their status from being property to being individuals in their own right. It is only when this conscious change is made that we can hope to see a real change in the way that people treat and view animals. It’s not only an upgrade in the law, but an upgrade in our own values.

Image Source: Tim Dawson/Wikimedia Commons



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1,007 comments on “Should Animal Abuse be Considered a Violent Crime?”

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Alan
13 Days ago

Sorry, I was just across the road kicking my neighbors dog. What did I miss?


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cutiewithabootie
13 Days ago

i hate dogs. abusing them is fun? They are just things i feed. i kick them, punch them, and i use them as a punching bag! #loveabusingdogs (scroll down please) >:(























































JK! I LOVE MY DOGS! I TROLLEC YOU SO HARD LOL! yay!


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cutiewithabootie
13 Days ago

why care animal abuse is fun. i have a bunch of dogs and they love me kicking them! (scroll down)
















































jk i luv dogs


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MYNAMEISJEFF
24 Feb 2017

you hoe

ohyes
13 Days ago

wow so sad. thhhhhhhhhhzxIXO is mean.


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\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'ddddddddddddmn n6wseeeeeezwetgbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbnwaj
13 Days ago

so sad


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\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'ddddddddddddmn n6wseeeeeezwetgbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbnwaj
13 Days ago

ew...abusers should keep abusing animals! why stop? JK


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thhhhhhhhhhzxIXO
13 Days ago

dumb


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thhhhhhhhhhzxIXO
13 Days ago

...


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Beagleresort
20 Days ago

Yes, if one can abuse an animal that person will mostly harm a human.


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Carol Hughes
25 Days ago

I think that animal abuse should be a federal crime. Over-breeding dogs, cats, domestic pets of any kind should also be a federal crime. Not only is it criminal and pain to these unsuspecting animals, but it is expensive for tax payers and can be dangerous. Strays pick up all kinds of illnesses (rabies, certain types of worms, fleas, ticks that are dangerous to people. Beating a dog, can make it mean and not only is the abuser at risk, but so is anyone who comes around the animals. People react in the same way, only some of them take it out on others (including animals that have nothing to do with their pain. I have been adopting and helping with rescues for at least 8 to 10 years now. I love animals, but am partial to dogs. The abuser be given much stronger punishment then they are getting now. A dog is not something up put in the back yard and just leave it there to serves your purposes. Nor is it a fighting animal, to make you money while it is being killed by another dog or whatever. It is a loving, caring thing. One of God\'s creatures, who feels pain, emotion even if it the human it lives with pain and emotion. Abusing, abandoning, chaining and animal in a yard, leaving it in a cage all day, not feeding it or giving it water, not taking to the vet are all acts of cruelty. If you can\'t live with your pet, then find a good person who can and will. I think all animal abusers should serve at least 5 years, in prison and be made to pick up dead dogs, cats, off the streets and highways, Then be given a training course, in the care and training of dogs in particular. They should be made to sell their homes, cars, etc and donate the funds to no-kill shelters and rescues. When they get out, they should be on probation for another 5 years. Moving to an no animal apartment is no excuse to leave your pet behind. Find a place that does, take pets. A pet is a family member and deserves your love.


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