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What is Animal Cruelty

Tulika Nair
Animal cruelty is an alien concept for most of us, despite the fact that at some point of time or the other we may have been perpetrators of the crime ourselves. What is animal cruelty? If you are unaware of what these malignant acts are, then we try and educate you about a reality that could do with more supporters.
Animal cruelty exists in every part of the world. But, it’s important to realize that just because animals are mute and cannot express the trauma that they suffer from when oppressed, does not mean that they do not feel anything. But then considering that many of us are not even aware of what animal cruelty is, it’s difficult to expect any form of empathy.

The Blatant Reality

Defining in specific terms what animal cruelty is, is difficult simply because of the many divergent viewpoints held by people all over the world. In simple terms, it is when you inflict harm upon animals for some gain other than self-defense, or cause harm to the animal by negligence.
Most instances throughout the world can be attributed to the process of procurement of food, fur, and other animal products. Animal rights experts around the world bifurcate acts of cruelty to animals as passive animal cruelty or acts of omission, and active animal cruelty or acts of commission.
While passive cruelty is not given as much media attention, it is responsible for as much pain and trauma to animals.
Acts of omission or passive cruelty can be understood simply by understanding cases in which the animals in a human's care are subjected to extreme neglect. While there is no act of cruelty that the animal is put through, neglect can cause severe pain and suffering.
Examples of owners who leave their pets at home for several days at end without catering to the needs of the animal and leaving someone responsible for their care, are all instances of the same. In several cases, this negligence can cause diseases in animals and lead to deathy.
Failure to bring the animal to a veterinarian when it needs medical care can also be an instance of cruelty. It is in such cases that it becomes important to educate the owner of the responsibilities that he has, and in worst case scenarios remove the animal from their care immediately.
Acts of commissions or active cruelty are instances that we are more familiar with. It is an act in which deliberate harm is caused to an animal for personal gain or because there is a certain sadistic pleasure that is derived from the act of inflicting harm upon a helpless being.
Often referred to as non-accidental injury, it is an indication of some deep-rooted psychological or sociopathic problem, or in some cases, an unnatural greed. What are the most common acts? Here is a list of those instances in which malicious acts of torture are heaped upon animals.
  • The use of animals for purposes of entertainment is one that has been a part of human history. From gladiators fighting lions during the era of the Roman empire to present day bullfights in which animals are speared and tortured, to use of animals in movies without proper care, are all perpetrated for the selfish reason of entertainment for human beings.
  • While experimentation for the purpose of development is understandable, doing so at the cost of causing harm to innocent animals is not. Look up any list of animal abuse statistics and it will tell you that as many as 70 million animals die an unnatural death in labs every year, all in the name of research and testing.
  • Every year as many as ten billion animals are killed for consumption by human beings. The cruelty shown to them becomes bigger, when you consider that they are forced to inhabit cramped spaces and are subjected to artificial treatments to increase their productivity.
  • The methods used to trap animals and the conditions in which animals are harvested for their fur, are all instances of torture.
  • All over the world, there are many laws that have been passed to protect animals against hunters and poachers, but they remain prey to human beings who sell their hide, bones, fur, etc on the black market.
  • A sociopathic instance is when animals are abused in violent homes to show their strength or power to members of the household.
Look up the laws of different countries and you will learn that the laws stated by the jurisdiction differ greatly. Animal welfare activists state that as long as the conditions used are humane and the pain caused minimal, there is nothing wrong in using animals for research, entertainment, and other human needs.
Animal rights activists shoot down this argument by stating that humane and minimal are words or concepts that are subjective and therefore, interpretation may vary widely. The only way, according to them, for prevention is to stop using them as a commodity.
As human beings, we tend to be selfish, putting our needs above the needs of any other being. We tend to believe that the size of our brains and the sheer power of communication that we possess makes it okay for us to rule over others.
The day we realize that every power that we possess is temporary and that George Orwell's Animal Farm could might as well be prophetic, maybe, we will learn to be more sympathetic to the needs of those beings whom we share our world with.