Pet abuse on the rise nationwide
by Carol Thompson
Animal abuse and neglect cases have been dominating the news in recent months. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the animal suffering from the most cruelty is pit bull-type dogs.
Animal abuse has been defined as “non-accidental, socially unacceptable behavior that causes pain, suffering, or distress to and/or the death of an animal” (Ascione & Shapiro, 2009). The most common forms of animal abuse are intentional cruelty and neglect.
A report issued last year by the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation states, “Animals abused within the first few weeks of life are
rarely suitable as pets. For instance, cats that have not been exposed to people within the first seven weeks of life will never be fully accepting of people. When abused in the first few weeks of life, cats are more likely to be hostile toward humans for the rest of their lives. The same is true for dogs; however, the human interaction must occur by 12-14 weeks of age.”
The most common forms of abuse are neglect (32.3 percent), hoarding (12.4 percent), shooting (11.3 percent), fighting (8.7 percent), beating (7 percent), mutilation (5.5 percent), throwing (2.5 percent), stabbing (2.5 percent), burning (2.1 percent), unclassified (1.8 percent), vehicular (1.8 percent), poisoning (1.7 percent), kicking/stomping (1.4 percent), choking (1.4 percent), sexual abuse (1.3 percent) with hanging and drowning each at less than one percent.
Every state in the United States and the District of Columbia has a law prohibiting cruelty to animals. These laws do not give animals rights, but do afford some legal protection. Each state has adopted its own laws ranging from various fines to imprisonment.
Last year, the city of Syracuse, NY initiated an “animal cruelty court” providing just one judge to hear all cases. The goal is to bring cases against accused owners quickly so the victimized animals don’t remain in limbo. Offenders are given consistent punishment. The court cannot, however, hear felony cases.
While many cases are local and garner only regional media coverage, high profile cases have been on the increase.
Earlier this month a Baltimore County grand jury indicted Terrence Cody on animal cruelty charges on the same day the Ravens officially terminated the contract of the veteran defensive lineman.
Cody, a former second-round pick by the Ravens, also faces charges for illegal possession of an alligator, abuse or neglect of the animal, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, however, the most serious charge is two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty, stemming from the death of one of his dogs, a bull mastiff. If convicted, the crime is punishable by a maximum of three years in prison per charge and a $5,000 fine.
Image: Flickr/Claire-Marie Harris