Animal Cruelty: One More Problem of The 21-Century

When someone asks you “What is one of the biggest problems in the world today?”, what is your first reaction or answer? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. One of the biggest problems in today’s society is cruelty towards animals. This isn’t just every-day domestic animals, but also farm animals and livestock. This topic is relevant and interesting because it is about respecting life in the best way possible. I am personally interested in learning more about animal cruelty because I love animals and I want to be a veterinarian one day and it hurts me to know that some people abuse and intentionally or unintentionally hurt or even kill animals. From learning more about animal cruelty in Pennsylvania, I get a better understanding of the topic and can start with making changes in my state and my surroundings first. Other people should also understand that pets and animals do so much for the human race, supporting, providing comfort, providing food, and just being treasured and helpful to humans. Animals do so much for us, so why can’t we make sure that while they’re alive, they are respected and treated with some type of decorum?

Before the laws are discussed, what about the basic facts? There is a lot to know about animal abuse in Philadelphia, but the most general information helps give a solid understanding of the severity of animal abuse and its effects. Research has shown that animal abuse crimes can be linked to violent crimes towards people. Hoarding also endangers an animal, the hoarder trying to take care of more animals than they can. The gender and age range for intentional animal abusers are mostly men under 30 and for hoarders, it is women over 60. The most commonly reported cases are for dogs, cats, horses, and livestock. The weak protection for livestock under state laws makes it so that only the most shocking cases are reported. “Data on domestic violence and child abuse cases reveal that a staggering number of animals are targeted by those who abuse their children or spouses.”, according to The Humane Society of The United States. This shows that there is a direct link between domestic violence and animal cruelty. With this information, I hope that people can take it into account when reading about the laws. I also hope that people can realize the severity of animal cruelty and know that these things need to change.

Now that the basic information is figured out, what about the laws and punishments for animal abuse? There are set punishments in Pennsylvania for animal cruelty, as stated in Animal Cruelty Laws in Pennsylvania. This site states that animal cruelty is a serious charge the culprit can be fined, be charged with a misdemeanor, a felony, or go to prison. It is illegal to abuse, beat, torture, abandon, or mistreat an animal and the punishment depends on the circumstances of the case. Neglecting an animal in any way, whether it be not providing necessities, locking it in a car during hot weather, or tethering it up for more than nine hours without the needed care, is met with a penalty from a fine to felony charges, all based on the severity of the risk or injuries. Medical procedures that aren’t done legally and by a certified vet fall under animal cruelty. A fine is given for poisoning an animal and if it is done unintentionally, it’s considered a misdemeanor. According to E.A. Gjelten, “ It’s a felony in Pennsylvania to participate in organized animal fighting in any way, from owning or training the animals to betting on a fight or simply attending as a spectator.” After Libre’s law, animal-abuse legislation named after an abused puppy was passed. Libre, a Boston terrier, was found starving, covered in mange, barely alive on an Amish dog-breeding farm in Lancaster County in 2016. He was saved by a delivery-truck man, being saved from his impending doom. When his law was passed, dog tethering laws have been improved, stating that a dog cannot be tied down for more than nine hours in 24 hours and the tether must be three times the dog’s length. In harsh conditions, a dog can’t be tethered for more than 30 minutes and must always have access to water and shade. Animal cruelty penalties are strengthened as well. Humane Society officers and veterinarians can’t be sued for wrongly accusing someone of animal cruelty. The abuse of horses is treated the same as cats, dogs, or other pets. Anyone that is officially convicted of anything animal-cruelty related has to give up their animal (Philadelphia Inquirer).

When researching animal abuse, the data that does and doesn’t exist about cases is astounding. The information about reported animal abuse cases is important to know to see numerically how harsh animal cruelty is. As stated by Pennsylvania Capital-Star “In 2017, 965 offenses were reported. In 2018, that number climbed to 11,836. By 2019, the number of offenses reported was 8,405. The total number of animal abuse cases filed from 2017-2019 statewide is 4,804, according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.” Many animal abuse laws and policies have been put in place to prohibit, limit, and, overall, stop animal abuse and cruelty. The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) monitors the offenses and provides data on it that can be viewed. The number of cases in 31 Pennsylvania counties ranges from 19 to 888 in 2018, because there is a difference in how cases are reported. In most counties, charges can be directed straight to a district judge, but, in Philadelphia, it has to be brought to a detective. Humane officers also need to notify the defendant that they have been charged with an animal abuse offense, so if they ignore it or let the animal go, the police can’t do anything, explaining the low number of cases in Philadelphia. Overall, Pennsylvania has over 4,000 reported animal abuse cases around 2018. These are only the cases that were officially reported, and it’s counting up to thousands. If all of the animal abuse in Philadelphia were reported and documented, who knows how many cases there would be. So many animals, so many years, but what impact has been made? What has been done to stop this pain?

What can be learned from this research after further inspection? What’s the takeaway? I have realized that animal abuse in Philadelphia is a much bigger problem than I initially realized. This matter is very important and should be taken more seriously. It also should be discussed a lot more than it is. I wonder what other animals are being abused that isn’t really discussed. I question what matters are being taken to not only fine or charge animal abusers, but to also limit the number of cases and make animals safer and treated better than they are. How are livestock being treated? Or farm animals? I hope to learn more about specific cases in Philadelphia and police involvement in these matters and if they are truly doing their job when it comes to animal abuse.