What is animal abuse?

Animal abuse refers to the intentional or unintentional harming of animals through physical violence, neglect, or improper care. It occurs when farm animals are housed in disgusting environments, when dogs are forced to fight each other for sport, or when an owner lashes out at their cat. 

Usually someone who is cruel to animals struggles with unresolved anger, and it’s likely their abuse extends beyond animals to the people around them. They may feel powerless and thus enact violence as a form of control, or they may simply be copying behavior that was modeled towards them by a parental figure.

Domestic violence and animal abuse

Unfortunately, domestic violence and animal abuse often go hand-in-hand. Abusers can threaten pets to coerce behavior from a victim, and it’s estimated that nearly half of victims remain in abusive relationships because they don’t want to leave a pet behind (SPCA).

Here are some more facts to consider:

  • In one study of suspected child abusers, research suggested that pet abuse had also occurred in nearly 88% of the families where physical abuse of children was suspected (National Sheriff’s Association). 
  • 71% of pet owners in domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened or harmed an animal in order to manipulate them (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).
  • An estimated 25% of survivors return to an abusive relationship to protect their pet (ASPCA).  
  • One study found that 87% of beatings directed toward pets happened in the presence of a partner and were used for revenge or control (NCADV).
  • 55% of domestic violence victims view their pets as sources of emotional support or even members of the family (NCADV). Thus threats against pets can cause immense distress.

Facts about animal abuse

Animal abuse, however, doesn’t just happen alongside domestic violence. It takes on many forms and occurs in many places. 

Poaching endangered species such as elephants is considered animal abuse. The mistreatment of wild animals in circuses and other entertainment venues is abuse. Many even consider the widespread confinement and experimentation on animals in science labs to be abuse.

Here are some more statistics to chew on:

  • Over 50% of fur in the U.S. originates from China, where dogs and cats may be skinned alive. This fur is often mislabeled for international products (PETA).
  • An estimated 115 million animals in science labs are killed every year for chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics research (HSI).
  • More than 1,000 greyhounds have died on racetracks since 2008. These dogs are often mistreated and kept in cages 23 hours of the day (PETA). 

Animal abuse legislation

When it comes to legislation, there has been some progress in recent years. As of 2014, animal cruelty leads to felony penalties in all 50 U.S. states, and the FBI has officially added cruelty to animals as a category in the U.S. crime reporting system. On top of this, Congress passed the Pets And Women’s Safety Act (PAWS) in 2018, which provides resources for abuse victims to keep their pets safe (Humane Society).

How Alliance Foundation helps

That said, many domestic violence shelters still lack the resources to take care of victims’ pets. As a result, pets remain in dangerous environments. They can also be used as bait to lure victims back into abusive relationships. 

The Alliance Foundation believes no one should have to give up their best friend because they can’t afford them. Pets are valuable sources of emotional support for survivors, and they can be crucial in the healing process!

The Alliance foundation partners with a local shelter that takes in abused men and women. We provide resources for pet-owners to cover vet bills, food, supplies, and more. 

Nobody facing hardship should have to decide whether to keep a pet or not. 

On top of all this, you can help fight domestic and animal abuse by simply being aware. 

If you witness abuse, report it to your local police station. Inform any friends in abusive circumstances about resources available to help them get away and get back on their feet. 

And finally, be sure to treat your own pets and loved ones with respect, attention, and proper care! 

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