A live fowl market in Asia with live, dead and dying birds.
Cruelty to animals refers to the infliction of unnecessarysuffering or harm to nonhuman animals. Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to the issue. Theanimal welfare position holds that there is nothing inherently wrong with using animals for human purposes, such as food, clothing, entertainment, and research, but that it should be done in a humane way that reduces unnecessary suffering. Animal rights theorists criticize this position, arguing that the words "unnecessary" and "humane" are subject to widely differing interpretations, and that the only way to ensure protection for animals is to end their status as property, and to ensure that they are never used as commodities.
Many jurisdictions around the world have enacted statutes which forbid cruelty to some animals but these vary by country and in some cases by the use or practice.
In Australia, many states have enacted legislation outlawing cruelty to animals. Whilst police maintain an overall jurisdiction in prosecution of criminal matters, in many states officers of the RSPCA and other animal welfare charities are accorded authority to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty offences. Most jurisdictions simply depend on law enforcement officers who may not be knowledgeable in the area or assign it a high priority. Spectacular stories about grave atrocities and animal hoarders are mainstays of local TV news reporting, but most offences concern lack of adequate shelter or food and similar neglect in animal care.
As of 2006 there were no available laws in China governing acts of cruelty to animals. In certain jurisdictions such as Fuzhou, dog control officers may kill any unaccompanied dogs on sight.
In Mexico, animal cruelty laws are slowly being implemented. The Law of Animal Protection of the Federal District]is wide-ranging, based on banning 'unnecessary suffering.' The law prohibits conducts from dissection for students in high school or earlier years, to negligence of the owner in providing medical attention to an animal that needs it. Similar laws now exist in most states. However, this is blatantly disregarded by much of the public and authorities; animal protection legislation is gaining relevance very slowly.
In the United Kingdom, cruelty to animals is a criminal offence and one may be fined or jailed for it for up to five years, under the
In the United States a few jurisdictions, notably Massachusetts and New York, agents of humane societies and associations may be appointed as special officers to enforce statutes outlawing animal cruelty. "Brute Force: Animal Police and the Challenge of Cruelty" by Arnold Arluke is an ethnographic study of these specialhumane law enforcement officers. In 2004, a Florida legislator proposed a ban on "cruelty to bovines," stating: "A person who, for the purpose of practice, entertainment, or sport, intentionally fells, trips, or otherwise causes a cow to fall or lose its balance by means of roping, lassoing, dragging, or otherwise touching the tail of the cow commits a misdemeanor of the first degree." It is to be noted, however, that in the USA ear cropping, tail docking, the Geier Hitch, rodeo sports and other acts perceived as cruelty in many other countries are often condoned. Penalties for cruelty can be minimal, if pursued. Currently, 44 of the 50 states have enacted felony penalties for certain forms of animal abuse.However, in most jurisdictions, animal cruelty is most commonly charged as a misdemeanor offense. In one recent California case, a felony conviction for animal cruelty could theoretically net a 25 year to life sentence due to their three-strikes law, which increases sentences based on prior felony convictions. In 2003, West Hollywood, California passed an ordinance banning declawing of house cats. In...