Animal Cruelty

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Clifton P. Flynn wrote an article entitled “Acknowledging the “Zoological Connection”: A Sociological Analysis of Animal Cruelty” which focuses on human-animal interaction and more specifically how humans are violent towards members of the animal kingdom. He expresses his concern that sociologists have ignored how animals impact our society. He points out that cruelty isn’t an issue that generally stands alone in sociology; it is usually studied because of its correlation with human violence. It is considered in how it affects humans; but never looked at separately or at the true victims in animal cruelty, the animals themselves. He thinks that animal abuse should be an issue that is focused on solely because it in itself is a serious sociological issue. Flynn points out many sociological factors that affect animal cruelty but he still focuses on the issue of animal abuse. The factors Flynn mentions are gender/patriarchy, age, socio-economic status, childhood socialization, social norms, public and cultural attitudes toward animals and abuse, social power, and finally how animals are viewed as family members. I am inclined to agree that animal abuse is a neglected topic and often overlooked by lay people and scholars alike. I feel like the factors he points out that affect human to animal cruelty are generally right on target. “One of the most consistent factors associated with the perpetration of animal abuse is gender. Almost all abusers are male.” (Flynn, 74). Flynn found in the course of his research that males were four times more likely than females to abuse and be violent towards animals. Many times these males were being cruel to animals as a form of spousal abuse. Husbands would hurt the family pet in order to punish or scare their wives. Flynn discussed two different studies that were done that connected spousal abuse with animal abuse. The first survey was done in Utah where seventy-four percent of those women surveyed had a pet and seventy-one percent of those women had that pet brutalized or killed by their husbands. The second survey was done in South Carolina and forty-six and half of those women had their pet harmed by the abuser. And finally in both of the studies the women had put off getting help for fear of their pet’s wellbeing (Flynn, 81). These studies reflected animal abuse but it was connecting animal abuse simply as spousal abuse, nothing was done for the animal victims. The author continues supporting his males are abusers theory by saying that “animal abuse stems from patriarchy” (Flynn, 80) and the author notes that cruelty towards animals reflects male domination and need for control (Flynn, 80). Men tend to need to be in power and exert their control and dominance over many aspects of their lives, animals included. Flynn did not find it surprising that more men are involved in criminal acts against animals and women are more often complaining or reporting those said acts (Flynn, 80). This is supported by a study done by Bill C. Henry. Henry wrote an articled called “Can Attitudes about Animal Neglect be Differentiated from Attitudes about Animal Abuse?” Henry conducted a poll that asked men and women their views on what constituted animal abuse versus what was animal neglect. Questions ranged from how they would feel about intentionally makes two animals fight one another or intentionally killing a companion animal versus leaving a companion animal outside without shelter and failing to provide companion animals with medical care. Of course, it was much more extensive than just that but he basically found that men and women had very different attitudes as to what constituted cruelty, men generally thought it was neglect to harm (injury) an animal and cruelty was intentional killing (for other than health, food, or research), whereas women thought it was cruel if an animal was killed or injured (Henry 33-34). Henry’s poll also found that women are more empathetic than...
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