There are sixty million ‘domestic dogs’ in the U.S., owned by more than 36 million households (Sunstein & Craven 3). Works of ‘animal cruelty’ occur innumerable times a day across the U.S. Even though ‘animal cruelty’ appears like a simple notion, it is an intricate phenomenon; ‘animal cruelty’ manifests itself in many ways and is fueled by many motives (Perez & Heide 3). Some incidents are intentional and involved acts of overt cruelty; in other instances, the cruelty is passive and is termed neglect.
In many instances, animal cruelty is concealed by anonymity – it takes courage to witness to come forward; in many cases, the abuser is described as a dangerous or violent person. Therefore, law enforcement must play a proactive and supportive role in assisting people who are willing to come forward and in guiding cruelty cases through the court system. According to Perez & Heide (2003), ultimately, animal cruelty can be faced head-on as a crime only when all concerned embrace the perception that animals can indeed be victims.
A lot of people consider that the very concept of ‘animal rights’ is unlikely. Telling that animals are neither self-aware nor rational, Kant believe of animals as man’s tools, worthy of protection only to aid humans in their relationship to one another but J. Bentham think of a dissimilar approach, proposing that maltreatment of animals was similar to ‘racial discrimination’ (Sunstein & Craven 3).
Few people accept that particular analogy; many people find it offensive; but since the 1990s, the ‘animal rights’ query has shifted from the margin and in the direction of the core of legal and political debate. Germany has been the 1st European country to vote to assure ‘animal rights’ in its constitution, adding the word “and animals” to a clause that obligates the state to protect and respect the pride of human beings, in 2002 (Sunstein & Craven 4). Despite its apparently rising appeal, the concept of ‘animal rights’ has been questioned with remarkable strength; supporters of ‘animal rights’ seem to believe that their opponents are unthinking, cruel, and even morally blind. Based on Sunstein & Craven (2004), individuals who resist ‘animal rights’ appear to think that the promoters are strange and fanatical, willing to crush on significant ‘human interest’ for the sake of rats and mice.
The Present Study
The findings of many studies to date are inconclusive with respect to the relationship between cruelty to animals and human violence; there is widespread agreement among clinicians, researchers, and those who work in law enforcement, mental health, and social services that further investigation is needed (Perez & Heide 17). In the twenty first century violence in our society is very real, and it increasingly appears to be affecting as well as adults; moreover, in many of the cases in which aggressive outburst have made national news, previous works of cruelty to animals were established to be part of the profile of the performer of violence (Perez & Heide 17). As what Perez & Heide (2003) cited as an example, “precise motives for abuse considered within the cultural context within which they operate significantly broadened the conceptual parameters within which cruelty to animals might be understood as a process rather as merely as an act.
‘Childhood cruelty’ in animals happened to a considerably larger degree amongst violent criminals than in non-aggressive criminals or non-criminals; ‘family violence’, mainly paternal alcoholism and abuse, were considerably more frequent in ‘aggressive criminals’ with a experience of ‘childhood cruelty’ to animals (Kellert 1985).
Based on the study conducted by Miller and Knudson (1996), their results were consistent with their premise that there is a link connecting antisocial behavior and ‘punitive childhood-histories’ but is not consistent with the ‘hypothesis’ that introduction to ‘animal cruelty’ is significantly connected to child maltreatment or ‘antisocial behavior’.
According to a study by Arluke et.al, ‘animal abusers’ were more probably than control participant to be ‘interpersonally aggressive’; however they also were more probably to do drug, property, and public-disorder offenses.
Animal Welfare and Animal Rights
Those who want to change human practices with respect to animals fall into two different camps; some people insist on the protection of animal welfare; others seek animal rights. Animal welfare supporters dispute for tighter laws stopping cruelty and requiring ‘humane treatment’.
Many of the goals of animal welfare groups receive broad popular approval. Civilized nations prohibit cruelty to animals, and vigorous enforcement of existing prohibitions would do a great deal. On many topics, animal welfare advocates and animal rights advocate are happy to join forces to urge further reforms.
When animal suffering is clearly engaged, the option between animal rights and animal welfare might not greatly matter. And in the sense, those who believe in animal welfare also believe in animal rights, at least if we describe animal rights to mean “protection against suffering”. Any effort to prevent suffering will call for rights of a certain sort; but there are large differences between those who seek animal welfare and those who seek animal rights – if animals suffering are the focus, scientific experimentation and meat eating might be acceptable if suffering is minimal (Sunstein & Craven 5).
What Animal Rights Might Entail
According to Sunstein & Craven (2004), if we comprehend “rights” to be ‘legal protection’ against harm, then many animals already do have rights, and the idea of animal rights is not terribly controversial. They added that, of course some people, like Descartes, have disputed that animals do not have emotions and that public should be permitted to treat them what they like; but to most people, like critics of ‘animal-rights movement’, this position seems not acceptable. And according to Sunstein & Craven (2004), indeed, state laws include a wide range of protections against cruelty and neglect.
Enforcing Existing Rights
Some people are concerned about these limitations on the effectiveness of anticruelty laws. The least controversial response would be to narrow the “enforcement gap”. According to Sunstein & Craven (2004), ‘reforms’ might be adopted with the inadequate reason of ending behavior that is already isn’t according to the law, in order that the law in fact means what it is saying on the paper. Here, then, we can discover a somewhat less ‘minimalist’ understanding of ‘animal rights’. Based on Sunstein & Craven (2004), representation of animals must be able to bring ‘private suits’ to make sure that ‘anti cruelty’ and associated laws are actually imposed.
In a sense, this would be a theatrical proposal; however it is more conventional & simpler than it appears (Sunstein & Craven 7). Of course any such animals would be represented by human being, like any other litigant who lacks ordinary human competence; many of those who believe in animal rights want to build on this idea. Their proposed step seems modest. Why would someone contest an attempt to endorse superior enforcement of existing law, by increasing the power of the prosecutor with ‘private lawsuits’? Possibly the answer lies in a terror that many of those lawsuits would be ‘unjustified’. Maybe ‘animal representatives’ would give a ‘flurry of suits’, not because of neglect or cruelty or any law violation, but because some type of ‘ideological-commitment’ to improving welfare of animals. According to Sunstein & Craven (2004), if this is a true risk, it might create sense to react, not by prohibiting those lawsuits, but by making those who bring ‘frivolous ones’ to give the defendant’s ‘attorney’s fees’.
Unluckily, there is no immediate solution for ‘animal abuse’; however there are many things we can do to help; none of them will make ‘animal abuse’ vanish tomorrow, but every small helps minimizes the danger further ‘down-the-road’ (Pet Abuse 2007).
Arluke, A., Levin, J., Luke, C. & Ascione, F. 1999. The Relationship of Animal Abuse to Violence and Other Forms of Antisocial Behavior, 15 April 2008 < http://jiv.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/14/9/963 >.
Kellert, S. R. 1985. Childhood Cruelty toward Animals among Criminals and Noncriminals, 15 April 2008 <http://hum.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/38/12/1113>.
Miller, K. S. & Knutson, J. F. 1996. Reports of severe physical punishment and exposure to animal cruelty by inmates convicted of felonies and by university students, 15 April 2008 < http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V7N-3T7F1F5-6&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=d3df3ee0877ab67e5bf91ef39ba135c8 >.
Perez, L. & Heide, K. M. Animal Cruelty: Pathway to Violence against People. New York: Rowman Altamira, 2003.
“Pet Abuse.” 2007. Pet-Abuse.Com – Preventing Animal Abuse, 15 April 2008 <http://www.pet-abuse.com/pages/prevent_abuse.php>.
Sunstein, C. R. & Craven, M. Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.