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Animal Abuse: The Effects of Animal and Human

Relationships

Daniana Carvalho
Stacy Joslin
Beth Thurber
Blackstone Academy Charter School
May 27 , 2015

Introduction
Cruelty to animals, particularly companion animals, is now seen as a part of the
landscape of family violence and a risk to human health (Phillips v). Not only is the animal in
danger in this case, but also the human who is causing the pain is also affecting the people
around them. There are 8 million homeless animals this year alone in America (Lorna Steele).
There are multiple reasons for the huge number of homeless animals. One is because people buy
their animals when they are young, supporting mills that breed them as well as stores that sell

them (Companion 4). This leads to some animals being homeless because, people are so focused
on buying a puppy or a kitten because of their cuteness, that they dont realize that there are
adoptable dogs and cats at an animal shelter. The second reason is because some people begin to
see that having these animals is too much work. Owners turn their backs on their animal and give
them to shelters to take care of (Companion 4), which leads to shelters being overflowed. Third
is because some owners do not spay or neuter their animals, resulting in reproduction
(Companion 4). But another factor that contributes to this population is animal abuse.With these
homeless animals scattered around the community it shows that citizens in those communities do
not care about other living creatures.
Some people in society today are so busy with their day to day life, being stressed and
feeling overworked that they dont acknowledge that animal and human bonds have numerous
benefits for themselves as well as for the animal. For an animal who has been abused its ability
to bond with humans is affected by the trauma they faced. States must create and enforce laws
and fund shelters to allow the human and animal bonds to flourish and decrease the animal abuse
rate.

Background
There are various ways animals have been abused not only by their owner, but also by
the citizens around them. There are numerous forms of animal abuse; torture, hoarding, and
organized fighting. Torture is the hitting, kicking, or beating of an animal (Duke 10). Also,
torture is the intentional harm toward an animal such as punching, stabbing, shooting, poisoning,
strangling, electrocuting, and setting the animal on fire (Phillips 31). Owners and random

individuals perform these acts because they want a sense of control or to let out aggression
(Phillips 9). Because of these urges, they do not care about the pain they are inflicting on the
animals. As a result these animals are physically suffering for their owner's emotional state of
mind.
The second example of abuse is hoarding. This is when people hold a variety of animals,
within their care without enough food, water, or proper shelter (Duke,4). There are three different
types of hoarders. Theres the overwhelmed caregiver, someone who doesnt spay or neuter their
animals and reproduction becomes a problem. The second is the rescue hoarder who take
homeless animals from the street and into their homes. Third is a exploitive hoarder who is
someone that acquires animals for some personal reason. The reason why explotive hoarders
hoard is because owners want to retrieve money from the public by showing people that they
dont know how to rightfully care for their animals. This is also known as sympathy money.
When people see that the owner isnt doing too well on their own, caring for their animal, people
give the owner money to help out. Instead of using that money for the animals the owner uses it
on themselves (Phillips 26). When just hoarding and not properly caring for the animals they can
develop some diseases that when rescued cannot be treated and the animals would have to be
euthanized.
The last example of abuse is organized abuse. This is when owners organize or put their
animals in organized fights with other animals (Duke 11). These fights can involve any type of
animal such as dogs, birds, and chickens, but dog fighting, amongst mostly Pit Bulls, is the most
popular (Phillips 31). People have these fights because they want the pride in who can breed the
toughest animal to earn them a reputation (Duke 11). Organized fighting has become a criminal

enterprise earning the name blood sport. The reason for this name is because animals draw
blood resulting in them being killed trying to fight for their lives.
In addition to being dangerous for the animal, these forms of abuse have been proven to
foreshadow the owners future. People who abuse animals have been found to be significantly
more likely to commit violent crimes, domestic violence and other antisocial behaviors (Phillips
1). To stop abuse crimes some states have passed laws that state that anyone who over works,
tortures, kills, beats, or unjustifiably injures an animal will either face a fine of a certain amount
or face imprisonment (Phillips 7). The laws that have been set up to seize the actions of animal
abuse have been effective for the most part. States have these laws, but depending on how severe
the crime is determines the penalty and effectiveness of the law (Phillips 10). An example would
be if an owner was a hoarder, then their animals would be taken from them and the owner would
be charged a fine. But if an owner was to have an organized animal fighting where animals die
every night then they would be imprisoned because animal fighting is a criminal enterprise in
some states. Crimes like hoarding happen ever so often. But with animal fighting there is more at
stake which leads to less and less people being involved.
In the beginning of 2006, states included pets in domestic violence protection orders.
Some states even started to define animal abuse as a form of domestic violence for domestic
penalty (Phillips 13). This was so that domestic violence towards animals, just like domestic
violence towards people would be treated as important. But not all states stop all abuses. Some
states allow some of the abuses to happen. Like Alabama, Hawaii, Kentucky, and New Mexico,
among other states, still allow chicken fighting (Phillips 13). Animal fighting enterprises often
have a host of other crimes co-occurring (Phillips 20). Because these states allow animal
fighting it can also bring along other crimes such as weapon and drug offenses, simple and

serious assault, and gambling (Phillips 20). If these states were to put forth stronger laws animal
and human lives would not be in danger.
To ensure a safe place for abused animals after the law has been broken by the abusers,
investigators relocate these animals to shelters. There are approximately 5,000 non-profit animal
shelters around the United States (Watson 4). These shelters are not funded by the government.
They have to rely on the community for support. Volunteers, foster parents, and donations are the
reasons why these shelters are still open providing help and safety for these animals (Spector 7).
When animals are put into shelters, workers devote their time to socializing with the animal to
see if they will be a great companion for adopters. This is the part that matters most, animals
finding homes and people finding a new addition to the family.
When put in a new family a new form of love, safety and a bond is created. Animals and
humans bring out the best in each other, not only personality wise but medically too. A mother of
two said that, Our pets bring out the best in the kids in responsibility, kindness, affection, firstaid, and concern for other living things (Walsh 482). Children at a young age, when exposed to
animals, learn the importance of caretaking. These is when the bond between animals and
humans begin. Learning and respecting one another creates an understanding and peaceful
relationship.

Animal Abuse and Enforced Laws


While there are different definitions of animal abuse, researchers of the field agree on the
basic definition that animal abuse is, socially unacceptable behavior that causes unnecessary
pain, and/or death to an animal (Phillips 7). Animal abuse is an unnecessary act toward an animal
that is unwanted among animals and some people. With different types of abuses such as
abandonment, ritual, torture, organized fighting, bestiality, and hoarding, the outcome can be

fatal toward an animal which is why abuse abuse should not be taken lightly. This is technically
saying that if someone was to abuse an animal, then that same someone is taking away the life of
an animal physically and emotionally.
Even though these types of abuses to animals are dangerous to animals, there can be
reasons, but never good ones, why someone people commit these actions. Some people do it for
control, of not only the animals, but also the person who owns them. The abuser does this to
relieve aggression that they have towards other people. Another reason people abuse animals is
for discipline because the animal did not do what they were told (Phillips 9). Because of these
reasons animal lovers have tried to make others aware of this issue. By contacting animal control
whenever they see a sighting of abuse (Top 13). Starting neighborhood watch programs where
neighbors get together to get to know each other and their animals (Top 12). Also some parents
talk with their children to show them the proper ways to care for an animal (Top 11). But some
people have advocated passing laws against animal abuse.
Despite the efforts of animal activists, not all states have animal abuse laws. But they do
have other versions of the law that when summed up, still convict people for their crimes against
animals. In fact 47 states have taken this advice and have created laws against animal abuse. All
states have felony laws that prohibit dog fighting and all states have laws that prohibit neglecting
animals. But the consequences for disobeying the law are different for each state (Phillips, 13).
Meaning not each state has the same law for how they deal with animal abusers.
In the state of Rhode Island, the law for mistreating an animal is, The Cruelty Law
provides that whoever overdrives, overloads, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of
necessary sustenance, or cruelly beats, mutilates or kills any animal, is subject to imprisonment
up to 11 months, or a fine of $50.00 - $500, or both. The intentional cruelty provision expands

the penalty to 2 years imprisonment or a fine of $1,000, or both (Rhode Section 4). Rhode
Island passed this law in 1956 making it clear that animal abuse will not be tolerated or
forgivable in any way. In the state of Massachusetts the law says 2 years of imprisonment
with/or $5,000 fine (Massachusetts Section 3). Kentuckys law, its $500 fine and 1 year
imprisonment (Spay 18). Each state varies on what the consequences will be for the person who
abuses an animal. The offender will either be fined or imprisoned for a certain amount of money
or time. The other consequences for abusing an animal is if you are accused again, you are not
allowed to have any animal of any kind as well as fined for another amount of money and
imprisonment.
Some say that these animal protection laws are not important because there are bigger
issues that need more attention and protection. Thus, far too many cases of abuse continue to go
unaddressed (Phillips 14). But in 2012, when people were given an optional survey on What is
your opinion of each of the following social causes or political movement? 68% of the people
choose animal protection as an important matter. It was the number one ranked issue along with
workers rights (Phillips 16). States pass laws that the citizens see as important and not to be
ignored. Well, When you hold animal abusers accountable, you can prevent other crime and
begin to change a community in regards to safety (Phillips 2). States should pass these laws to
keep everyone even animals, in the community safe and happy.

Shelters
Animal shelters are home to millions of different types of animals. Animal shelters take
in birds, cats, dogs, horses, and even some animals that are exotic (Watson 5). Shelters give
homeless or abused animals a place of safety from the dangers of the abusee. In addition, shelters
try to get animals adopted into a safe, new and loving family. Shelters not only house these

animals until they find better homes, but they also do a little bit of socializing. This is when
workers at the shelter spend time with incoming animals. Playing, relaxing and or feeding the
new animal to see if the animal is comfortable and ready to interact with other humans.
Lorna Steele, Education Coordinator for the SPCA had said that shelter workers spend
hours socializing with some animals that have previously been abused, some from a new litter, or
some that have been on their own on the street. Shelters also do home visits to see if the potential
adoptive home is suitable for any kind of animal, when an animal is pending for adoption.
Shelters do this procedure because they want to make sure that not only the people can be trusted
but also the animal. Steele had also said that with a history of being abused, no one can really tell
how an animal will behave in certain situations. They dont want an animal to go through the
same misfortunes again in their new placement.

A plaque outside the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Located
186 Amaral Street, East Providence, RI 02915. (http://rispca.com/anout-us/)
The SPCA of Rhode Island has a quote located just outside their door and on their
website. We speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. This is the motto that they go
by in protecting animals. Because animals dont have a say in where they end up in the future, at
the SPCA, that is what they give to their animals, a sense of choice. The SPCA strongly believes
that all animals are worth fighting for and having their voices heard. They have been fighting for
these animals for the past 140 years (About 2).

The SPCA of Rhode Island, a non-profit shelter along with others like it, receive no local,
state or federal funding (About 6) . With approximately 5,000 non-profit animal shelters across
the United States, abused and homeless animals now have a place to go (Watson 4). As a nonprofit agency, these shelters need to acquire funding to exist. In today's challenging economic
times, there is no funding from the government for animal shelter, forcing those shelters to fund
themselves. People that support animal shelters have been able to raise money and supplies by
doing donation drives at home, school, and work. Shelters also have donation boxes inside their
buildings. They all rely on community support from people and businesses. Without animal
shelters, abused and homeless animals wouldnt have a home leaving them to be scattered around
the city, going through trash, and even some in an abusive home.
There was a statement made on the SPCA website, Along with operating a full shelter
that is home to over 100 cats, dogs and other domestic animals each day, community
involvement is also a part of our mission (About 5). The SPCA, like other shelters, wants to
spread awareness of these hopeless, defenseless animal and show people that the lives of animals
in shelters do matter.
Some say that shelters are not important and shouldn't be funded. They say to put the
states money towards animals and not towards the people and improving the community, is
something that seems like a waste of money. But what they dont know is, to help out local
shelters people in the community donate money, food, toys, blankets, bedding, newspapers, or
anything needed on an animal shelter's wish list (Spector 4). These items would help shelters
better care for the animals and make sure they get the right treatment before sending them off to
a better family.

Human and Animal Relationships

One of the benefits for people who own animals is they are more likely to become more
social, getting out of their comfort zones and talking to other people. It has been proven now that
people can befriend animals and learn the ways of understanding not only the animal but each
other and the methods of bonding. Attachments with pets provide psychological and social
support (Walsh 482). People with disabilities frequently are socially avoided by others and
having an animal is a great conversation starter for them. Disabled individuals in wheelchairs
accompanied by service dogs during shopping trips received a median of eight friendly
approaches from strangers, versus only one approach on trips alone (Allen 7). People in
wheelchairs are being approached by other people because of their animals. Having the dog not
only makes the owner approachable but also makes the interaction less awkward.
Adults arent the only ones who seem to be benefitting from having animals in the
family. In one family, whenever theres an argument between siblings, the mother says, Stop
fighting, youre upsetting Barkly! She commented, This is always more effective than saying
stop hitting your brother (Walsh 483). When children start to realize that their actions upset
their furry friend they are quick to stop those actions. It is as if seeing an animal sad, alone, and
afraid frightens them. Pets also help prepare children for later life experiences, from pregnancy,
birth, and rearing of offspring to the illness and death of loved ones (Walsh 482). Not only are
they great to have around the house, but they also put a sense of understanding in the world and
how it works.
Families arent the only ones who benefit from having a relationship with animals.
Trauma survivors, particularly those who suffered sexual abuse, often say that only a pet made
them feel safe and loved (Walsh 492). Pets offer unconditional love and respond with care and
attention when their owner needs it (Walsh 482). Animals have been assisting people in a healthy

way. They help humans reduce stress, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, they can even help
people with serious illnesses (Breyer 1-6). But no matter what happens to them they stay by their
humans side ready to fight for them. They lessen health risks for humans without humans even
knowing it. The psychological benefits to having a pet is a decrease in anxiety levels and levels
of stress. Other benefits are decrease in cardiovascular disease, particularly lower systolic blood
pressure, plasma cholesterol and plasma triglycerides (Allen 4). These health risks are known to
be harmful to human lives and animals are a good provider in helping lower those risks for a
healthy, long life.
Granted, not everyone likes or is able to have this kind of bond with animals. Some
people suffer from allergies such as dog hair, cat hair, and dead skin cells. Others suffer from
phobias of animals, due to an unpleasant encounter. These problems have stopped people from
interacting with animals. But just because some people might have this problem doesnt mean
they should rule out ever having a pet or bringing one around. During infancy, children who are
exposed to animals have fewer allergies (Allen, 5). There are also reliable websites that help
with these types of issues like 2knowmyself.com, pets.webmd.com, and humanesociety.com.
These sites go step by step to explain how to conquer these problems so that people have a
chance to interact with an animal of any kind.

Conclusion
Enforcing laws, funding shelters, and understanding animal and human interaction is
important. Creating and enforcing laws that identify the different types of abuses insures an
animal's safety. Funding shelters can not only help find animals loving homes, but can give
families and individual people loving companions. With this companionship comes an
understanding and realization of how animals help humans further improve their lives in both

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mental and physical ways. Animal and human bonds have numerous benefits and by funding
shelters and creating and enforcing laws, human and animal bonds can flourish.

Work Cited
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