Cases of animal abuse have been making national headlines over the past few months. From Michael Vick and his alleged involvement with dogfighting to teenage girls setting an innocent cat on fire, there is much public outrage over all of these incidents of pet and animal abuse.
Both pet owners and non pet owners share the same feelings of anger, frustration, or sadness when they hear a news story about a helpless animal being abused. Many people in our society ban together to help and show their compassion towards an abused animal by giving donations, volunteering, or protesting against these heinous acts of animal abuse.
Some in our community may ask why is there such a public outcry when we hear these incidences of abuse.
There could be numerous explanations of why these abuse cases stir so much passion and emotion in our hearts. One is that we tend to regard animals as pure, blameless, sinless. Gandhi observed “the more helpless a creature, the more entitled to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” We feel that animals cannot be held responsible for what happens to them.
Also, as a society, we highly regard pets and animals and some pet owners view their pets as “children.” 83% of American pet owners consider themselves “mom or dad” to their pets, more than a third display pet pictures in their home, and 16% carry a photo with them. Our bonds with pets is strong, and we give them unconditional love just as we would give to a child.
From SF Gate:
Another factor at work is that individual cases strike a deeper chord and magnify our responses. One needy animal, particularly if it has suffered abuse, will generate a more potent response than the knowledge that more than 12 million dogs are cats are euthanized in shelters every year.
Analysts from the Oregon-based nonprofit Decision Research found that people care more, give more, do more when confronted with a solitary example of need than a plural one. While we find a mass of need overwhelming and desensitizing, we reason that we can make a pivotal difference in a single case.
Finally, animal abuse triggers visceral alarm in most people because we now realize that it typically is a precursor to violence against humans.
Among reported cases of animal abuse, pets are the most common victims and young men are the most typical perpetrators. Often they themselves have been beaten or molested or made to feel powerless in childhood, and take out their frustration and rage on an animal over whom they can wield power. Others are psychopathic sadists. Yet others receive a sexual thrill from the act.
The Chicago Police Department analyzed statistics from July 2001 to July 2004 on criminals charged in Chicago with animal abuses such as dog-fighting and discovered that 13 percent had also been arrested for sexual assault and 65 percent had been arrested for beating humans.
Experts say the red flags of such a disorder can show up as early as in a 2-year-old but more commonly shows up around the age of 7.