We have all seen the images, we have all read the news articles, and we have all had our hearts broken by being reminded again that there are humans in this world who are so easily capable of abusing their pets.
In this blog post I examine the various different types of animal abuse, the most common reasons humans participate in animal abuse, and what YOU can do to help.
According to figures by the RSPCA (see article), reports of animal abuse increased by 5% in the UK in 2016, and in the US by 7%. This figure does not necessarily represent an increase in cruelty caused by humans, rather that humans are more willing to share reports of abuse – most likely because of the popularity of sharing these on social media.
“The number of animal cruelty investigations by the RSPCA jumped by nearly 5% last year to more than 400 a day, according to figures released by the animal welfare charity” – The Guardian article
The Different types of Animal Abuse
Many Psychologists would filter animal abuse into the three following categories:
- Oblivious, unknowing abusers : These abusers do not intentionally set out to harm or abuse their dogs. Most of us know that modern training techniques are very different compared to training tactics of the past. Dog training has evolved rapidly over the last few decades because of extensive research conducted on the psychological welfare of dogs. According to figures in 2015, 80% of dogs in the UK displayed a behavioural problem see article . Many dog behaviourists believe that negative, authoritative & physical training tactics – such as any form of physical reprimanding (hitting, slapping on the nose with a newspaper, prong collars etc.) are the leading reason for stress and bad behaviour. There are many people who still believe that it is not cruel to chain your dog on a short leash outside as punishment, or that intimidation and fear are effective forms of training and controlling ones dog. These are examples of unwitting animal abusers who do not realise that their actions are cruel and that there are far more effective, humane ways of disciplining and training one’s dog.
- Immature abusers : Most commonly children or young adolescents would fall into this category. These abusers lack the mental maturity in realising the damage and cruelty they are afflicting on the animal. This lack of awareness may be because of mental health problems, a lack of education & understanding from home, or mental development issues caused by trauma, abuse, etc. These individuals also do not realise the effect that their abuse is causing on their own mental development and health. Very young children will also fall into this category: imagine a 5 year old who scratches a dogs nose in order to see its reaction. This is why I so often discuss the importance of parents not only training their dogs on how to interact with children; but that it is VITAL that children are educated on how to behave with dogs.
- Intentional serious abusers : These abusers actively seek to harm, injure, and abuse animals for pleasure and amusement. These individuals require psychological help; according to extensive research conducted in US prisons, the capability of hurting an animal is a common initial trait of murderers and rapists. The most common reason for humans participating in serious animal abuse is the desire for power. Inflicting pain on something weaker can make the individual feel powerful and important.
“The definition of true evil is a human who is capable of hurting something so pure, innocent, and defenceless as a child or an animal” – Zeus & Anna
There are individuals who believe that animals simply exist to satisfy and further their own needs (an example of why dog fighting is still so common). There are individuals who lack feelings of relevance, or power in their own live’s therefore they feel justified in neglecting or abusively dominating an animal.
Neglect is what we have witnessed in Houston when humans have chained their dogs to trees or poles and left them to drown. In such a situation in which humans have no control, they may seek pleasure from knowing that at least they have control over the life of their dog. They may feel that leaving their dog to drown is a just way to ‘give back’ to the world for causing them such problems as the floods have done. When an individual feels that they have been wronged, when they feel that they are weak and powerless – it can unfortunately cause pleasure knowing that someone or something is suffering more than they are. These individuals are not mentally stable and should ALWAYS be reported to the authorities. A lack of empathy such as this can easily progress into human violence.
Further Facts about Animal Abuse
- In the US, intimidation is still considered the most popular form of dog training (rather than positive reinforcement)
- Neglect is the most common form of animal abuse
- In 70% of domestic abuse cases, animals have been abused as a form of retaliation against the abused partner. Example: an abusive husband may abuse the family dog because he knows that by inflicting pain on the dog he is directly inflicting pain on his wife. NSPCC
- “Acts of animal abuse may in some circumstances be used to coerce, control and intimidate women and children to remain in, or be silent about, their abusive situation. The threat or actual abuse of a pet can prevent women leaving situations of domestic violence.” NSPCC
- When a child is cruel to an animal this is often a clear sign of child abuse or neglect at home.
“Two weeks into the Trump Administration, thousands of documents detailing animal welfare violations nationwide have been removed from the website of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has been posting them publicly for decades.” National Geographic .
- Up until recently Zoo’s, breeders, animal testing facilities etc. were strictly monitored in order to ensure animals were treated according to the US law. This is no longer the case after the Trump administration erased all public records of animal abuse incidents in facilities, business’s and organisations. These reports were critical in ensuring that otherwise unnoticed animal abuse cases were revealed.
- Around the world, breeds like greyhounds and bulldogs are killed because they no longer are able to serve their purpose; race, fight, or entertain enough.
What YOU can do
Do not stand idly by. Animal abuse has direct links to domestic abuse and child abuse. Intentional animal abuse is a psychological disorder that requires professional help and can have serious consequences if left untreated.
There are rescue societies around the world that will step in on your behalf – all you need to do is make a phone call. One simple phone call. Please do it.
Help Lines for Hurricane Harvey & Irma:
Love, Z & A 🐶
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