George Angell, an 18th-century animal advocate, was once asked why he focused so much of his time on animals when so much human cruelty existed. Angell replied, "I am working at the roots." That sentiment can pretty much sum up the effect animal cruelty has on the environment. Animal cruelty includes a wide range of behaviors including animal hoarding, neglect and abandonment, dog and cock fighting, and intentional acts of cruelty. Whatever form it takes, animal cruelty tends to be a starting point for a much wider range of problems.
Animal cruelty is a precursor for violence towards people, according to a number of studies. A study by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that people who committed crimes against animals were five times more likely to commit violence against people. Domestic violence and animal cruelty are also linked. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, abusive spouses or parents are also cruel to the animals in the home about 60 to 70 percent of the time. Abused children are also more likely to abuse animals than children who were not abused.
Animal cruelty is also linked to other crimes. In the Northeastern University study, 70 percent of people who committed crimes against animals were involved in other crimes and were four times more likely to commit property crimes and three times more likely to be involved in drunken or disorderly offenses. Dog fighting is also strongly linked to illegal drugs and weapons.
Effects on Wildlife
Neglect and abandonment of domestic pets has a significant effect on wildlife. Stray and abandoned animals can breed and create feral cats and dogs. Feral animals look domestic but were raised without human contact. According to National Geographic News, more than 70 million feral cats in the United States kill hundreds of millions of birds and over a billion small animals each year. This includes rare and endangered species like the piping plover and Florida scrub jay. Feral dogs also prey on wildlife along with domestic cats and even fruit crops.
Animals forced to live in cramped conditions due to animal hoarding or factory farming cause a number of risks to our heath. Factory farms have a larger impact on the environment because they produce more waste and pollution in a smaller area than other farming methods. Factory farms also feed antibiotics to their animals in order to prevent diseases caused by this type of situation. Humans who consume dairy and meat from these farms can develop immunity to certain types of antibiotics. Animal hoarding increases the likelihood of diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans like toxoplasmosis, cat scratch disease, ringworm, cryptosporidium and salmonellosis.
- Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty: Study Proves Link Between Animal Abuse...
- DePaul University; Companion Animals and Chicago Communities…; Lauren Fischer, et al.; March 2010
- The Baltimore Sun; Putting a Leash on Dogfighting; Lynn Anderson; August 2007
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; Animal Abuse…; Frank Ascione; September 2001