Too often we hear "boys will boys" or "it's just a dumb animal" but cruelty to animals, more specifically the torturing of animals, is far from just an innocent and careless incident; it's a sign of something far more serious. In fact, some of America's most notorious serial killers had a history of cruelty to animals in their childhood. Children who engage in animal cruelty are more likely to commit more violent acts as adults. There is also a strong link between abuse of animals and domestic violence, with animal abusers much more likely to batter their wives or girlfriends as well. Animal cruelty is a very broad term and encompasses a wide range of behaviors harmful to any animal, domestic or wild, from intentional and unintentional neglect to malicious killing. Intentional animal cruelty can be defined as abuse in which a person knowingly deprives an animal of its basic needs i.e. food, water, shelter or veterinary care or involves maliciously torturing, mutilating, maiming, or killing an animal. Former director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University's College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Andrew Rowan, developed a classification system dividing the term "animal cruelty" into four distinct definitions: cruelty, abuse, neglect, and use to better define the broad term.
According to the classification system Dr. Rowan devised, cruelty occurs when an individual's motivation for causing animal suffering is to gain pleasure or satisfaction. Acts of animal cruelty are deliberate and are often planned, or premeditated. Lighting a firecracker in the mouth of a cat would be an example of cruel behavior. Abuse occurs when an individual causes an animal to suffer as a way of achieving dominance or a behavioral response. The individual responsible for the abuse doesn't enjoy harming the animal; however, he or she is merely trying to exercise power over the animal or to control its actions. An animal trainer... [continues]
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