Animal Cruelty Must Stop This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 12, 2009
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Every day in the United States animals are beaten, neglected, or forced to struggle for survival. Left in unsanitary conditions with no food or water, they have little hope as they live out their days without the compassion they deserve. Some are found and rescued, given the chance to experience how great life and humans can be; others aren't so lucky. To grow as a nation, we must fight for these abused animals' rights and severely punish heartless owners. It is up to us to speak for these creatures who lack a voice, for who will if we don't?

One of the first steps in protecting animals and ­creating effective cruelty laws is knowing what animal cruelty actually is. There are two categories: passive cruelty and active cruelty. The first ­involves acts of omission, meaning the abuse happens as a result of neglect or lack of action. Passive cruelty might seem less serious, but that is not the case; it can lead to terrible pain and suffering, and ultimately death. Examples include starvation, dehydration, untreated parasite infestations, inadequate shelter in extreme weather conditions, and the failure to get medical care. Passive cruelty is sometimes due to the owner's ignorance, so many animal control officers will first try to educate neglectful owners on how to properly care for animals before giving them a citation or placing them under arrest.

Active cruelty, on the other hand, is more well known and disturbing. Sometimes referred to as non-accidental injury, this type of abuse involves purposefully inflicting harm on an animal in order to feel more powerful or gain control. Active cruelty against animals should be taken very seriously, since it can be a sign that a person has serious psychological issues and may commit more acts of violence – possibly against humans.

It is hard to tell just what drives people to harm innocent animals. “According to a 1997 study done by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northeastern University, animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people and four times more likely to commit property crimes than are individuals without a history of animal abuse,” says It is vital to report people who hurt animals. Most animal abusers find some sort of fulfillment or power in torturing a victim they know can't fight back, which is why crimes like rape and child molestation are committed. While not all animal abusers become serial killers or rapists, it is important to take every case seriously.

For example, Carroll Edward Cole was a West Coast serial killer who may have murdered as many as 35 women in the 1970s and ྌs, and was executed in 1985. Based on Cole's testimony, his first violent act was strangling a puppy. The Columbine school shooting is another example of animal abuse as a precursor to human violence. Before killing 12 classmates and then turning the guns on themselves, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebod had bragged to friends about mutilating animals. If these acts had been reported to authorities and taken seriously, these two young men might have been put in a proper facility and helped, possibly avoiding the horrific massacre.

Given these examples, it's hard to imagine why all states don't take animal cruelty seriously. Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota have no felony provisions for cruelty to animals. According to the Humane Society, a good felony anticruelty law should protect all animals, apply to first-time offenders, carry large fines and lengthy prison time, have no exemptions, require convicted abusers to get counseling at their own expense, and prohibit abusers from owning or living among animals. Along with these laws we need officials who will strongly enforce them. Police, psychologists, and even the FBI recognize the link between animal cruelty and violence against people. To better protect communities, all states should institute strong penalties and work to increase public awareness of these crimes.

It's not only up to the legal system to ensure that communities across the country are aware and educated about animal cruelty. There are plenty of things everyday citizens can do. The simplest action is for people to take care of their own pets and learn the facts so they can educate others on proper animal care. Another easy way to help is by donating to or volunteering at a local animal shelter. Contrary to popular belief, volunteering doesn't require a lot of time; simply going in a few hours a week helps tremendously. Finally, by writing letters you can remind your local lawmakers that animal abuse is a real problem that needs to be addressed. Taking a few minutes to support this worthy cause not only helps animals, it allows you to feel proud about standing up for something so important to society.

It is our job to be the voice for creatures who cannot speak up for themselves. As a nation we need to make it our priority to come together and ensure the safety of our beloved pets. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 206 comments. Post your own now!

animal lover<3 said...
Nov. 3, 2011 at 7:58 am
is there anyone on here i can interview about animal abuse for a school project??????
kalipopXOX replied...
Nov. 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I can :)

I have a short story of one of my friends. Idk if i'd be able to last because she never feeds her dog and its skinny and im afraid it might die soon. It makes me sad because i have a dog too but compared to her dog it just seems wrong. :'(

bvbprincess replied...
Nov. 30, 2011 at 12:03 pm
This story is sad in the first paragraph so we shold try to stop this sad problem
baby girl replied...
Nov. 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm
i know we need to stop the abusing aminals.
destiny<3 animals said...
Oct. 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm
i really like this article it shows just how serious u r about this
Oct. 19, 2011 at 5:21 am
patsy456 replied...
May 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm
i agree with u a 100 percent i dont like people hitting animals at all :(
AnimalLover21 replied...
Dec. 6, 2016 at 9:01 am
Evil said...
Oct. 18, 2011 at 6:12 pm
You are terrible, if i were a dog, i would bite u
shhannx3 said...
Oct. 14, 2011 at 8:58 am
i think he/she was just joking. calm down..
hateyou said...
Oct. 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm
are you serious what wrong with you we all have defects but yours is major
doglover1290 said...
Oct. 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm
It makes me want to go help out at Paws-and-Claws!!
awsome said...
Oct. 7, 2011 at 10:26 am

omg please support the animal they have feelings toooo


GarekC. said...
Oct. 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm
This is good for the current Lincoln Douglas Debate topic. would i use the your screen name or your real name for proper citation?
Animal Lover! said...
Sept. 30, 2011 at 7:43 am
Somehow after reading this article, I think SPCA rocks alot. :) Go go go SPCA! ;)
StephanieY said...
Sept. 15, 2011 at 7:14 pm
i agreed with you when i saw the title =)
charlie said...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 2:11 am
good essay, good essay! (Y) keep it up!
Animallover<3 said...
May 31, 2011 at 5:26 pm


I never had sort of animal but a fish but almost everyday i see an animal crushed by a car walking through the streets why is it that cats are seen more often on the street hu? If the owner got a cat and just lost it whats the point. you know Somebody one day will have to stand up and say enough is enough.

myuglymutt replied...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 10:41 am
my dog was abused by previous owner i said in my neighbor hood enough is enough people let there dogs run loose i bring em in and csre for them send them back out to home
NKL554 said...
May 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm

i have a dog and cat and i would hate to see it be neaten or mistreated i read this article and it made me right and now i feel i should do something about it so you know what i will im going to read my speech to many people and hope it helps stop the animal abuse NOW.


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