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The Laws Concerning Animal Abuse in The United States

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Every 60 seconds an animal is abused. A staggering 70% of reported animal abuse cases involve dogs. 10,000 bull dogs die as a cause of Bullfighting, a sport when a dog tries to grab the snout of a pinned bull. In the United States alone, 1.13 million animals are used to be tested in laboratories from anything ranging from exposure to radiation or drugs to surgical procedures to even genetic manipulation. Millions of day-old, male chicks are killed in a macerator, a machine that reduces solids to small pieces by cutting them up, because they are “worthless” to the egg industry. These are some of many astonishing statistics of animal abuse. The laws that protect these animals have been slowly evolving over time. But how have these laws grown in comparison to what they first were? Well to first understand this we have to know why we should even care about the abuse.

There are multiple reasons as to why people should pay more attention to crimes like animal abuse. For starters, animal violence could be a clear indication that a person is going to commit acts of violence in the future. 70% of animal abusers that have been found guilty of animal violence crimes also have records of other crimes. To find and stop this thirst for blood, with assistance of mental health services we could then prevent future violent crimes. Feeling of pleasure from cruelty to animals is called zoosadism. This feeling of Zoosadism is one of three behaviors that often lead to sociopathic behavior, the others being fire setting and enuresis. It is important to know that these animals do not have a voice. That is one of the main reasons that they are targeted. When you first hear the term “animal abuse” the first thing that comes to most people’s heads is violence. Though the most common form that people think animal abuse is, the most common case of animal abuse is neglect (as shown in the pie chart). Animal abuse does not simply cover violence against animals, rather it covers a variety of crimes against animals. This could vary from anything to leaving an animal chained up in extremely cold weather or chained up for an extended amount of time, failing to provide veterinary services when it is needed or just hoarding animals. But these laws have not been in place throughout the entirety of the history of the United States.

One of the first laws that were created was intended to help out laboratory animals. Laboratory animals are a category of abuse that usually goes unnoticed by the mass media. Most people do not think much of animal testing in facilities but if you put yourself in the perspective of those animals then you might think much more of it. Think about the situation that they are in, they spend their lives locked up in a cage and they did nothing to deserve it. They get infected with diseases that not one single organism of their species ever come in contact with. They have to suffer from seizures, blindness, surgeries and other bloodcurdling experiences. And after they have gone through all of this they are normally thrown back into their cage. Not to mention that the U.S. law does not prevent other cruelty such as burning, starving, poisoning, isolation and exposure to drugs. The use of painkillers is not required to be used under the current law of the United States. These animals are physically scared and event mentally scared since they even see some animals like them being killed before their very eyes. They literally have no control over anything that goes on in their life like normally people. The laboratory animal welfare act was the first anti-cruelty law that was signed into law on August 24, 1966. It set the minimal standards of care of animals such as dogs, cats, primates, hamsters and guinea pigs. The required includes anything from housing, food, water, handling, sanitation and veterinarian care only within the boundaries of animal dealers and laboratories. In 1970 the law was renamed to “The Animal Welfare Act” and now applied to all warm blooded animals. This was the beginning of laws that would protect animals.

Even though first laws only applied to laboratories and animal dealers, as time continued these laws started to evolve as well. Ten years after the first the laboratory animal welfare act was signed, the law expanded to all animal brokers, carriers and handlers. The law states that you must require a veterinarian certificate in order to transport animals on an interstate. The law also says all dogs, no matter what their purpose might be, must be protected. Finally the last thing that the newly formed law regulates is that all federal agencies, such as the NIH, airforce and army, that were currently using laboratory animals, must show that they fully abide by the act. 1985 was the year in which the laws began to affect the meat industry. That is when the ISLAA (Improved Standard for Laboratory Animals Act) was adopted into the Food Security Act. The purpose of the ISLAA was to lessen the distress and pain of animals in a laboratory. To enforce this, all research facilities must have an institutional animal committee. Within this committee must be a person that is not connected to the facility, to represent the community’s interest, and a veterinarian. The committee will inspect the laboratory and will report to the lab what must be corrected. The lab will be expected to correct any problems immediately. If they are not corrected then the USDA will be notified punctually. If this happens then the laboratory will have its grant either suspended or revoked. Approximately 20 years later to the year 2008 there is another change in the law. This time in the form of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act. This act includes an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act. The amendment included an increase in the fine for committing animal cruelty. Prior to the change the fine was $2,500 per violation per animal per day. The amendment increased the $2,500 fine to a $10,000 fine per violation per animal per day.

It wasn’t until recently, in the year of 2014 that the FBI changed its policy of these crimes. Before, the FBI put animal abuse laws into a section named “other” where the crimes of lesser significance were kept. With this the value of animal abuse crimes were viewed with less importance. It also made it tougher to find and track these crimes. This was not changed until early 2014 when it finally got its own category. The category of animal abuse has 4 subcategories; Simple/Gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse (such as cock and dog fighting) and animal sexual abuse. How did animal abuse get its own category? Well this is all thanks to the efforts of the Animal Welfare Institute and the National Sheriff’s association.

Those are all of the major changes regarding the animal abuse laws. But of course if the laws change that must mean that people are breaking them. There have been many cases in which people have infringed these laws that have been brought to the attention of the whole nation. One of those cases is the Michael Vick dog fighting case. This case involves an NFL quarterback that haves a $130 million dollar contract and an animal-fighting, gambling ring.

Michael Vick had boughten a private property in Virginia. To some this looked like your everyday household, but on the inside, there was a dogfighting scheme that was the center of attention. Michael Vick, along with his three associates ran an arena called Bad Newz Kennels. Here they had pitbulls fight each other and gambled which of course is against the law. The scheme went unnoticed and was going smoothly for Vick up until one of the associates had been arrested under on drug charges. The associate had listed the property as his address and that when the truth of Bad Newz Kennels had come out. Once the authorities had inspected the area, what they had found in the property was absolutely sickening. There they found 54 scared and underfed dogs an arena and other tools that are commonly associated with dog fighting arenas. Once Federal executors executed a search, with the help of the U.S. Department of agriculture, found a mass grave site filled with the corpses of 8 dogs.

When the truth came out, Vick had denied knowing what was going on there and even went as far as to say that he had never even visited the property and blamed his family members who lived at the property. Inevitably the truth had to come out and Vick had pleaded guilty. He admitted to knowing about the scheme and funding it enterprise and took full responsibilities. He had revealed all the wrong that he had done. He had the dogs participate in various testing session. The ones that had not passed the tests were killed in multiple ways. Those ways ranged from hanging to electrocution to slamming. Of course, he was suspended by the NFL indefinitely until he had served his sentence.

The Surry county jury brought two different charges against Vick: One count violating VA Code Ann. § 3.1-796.124, which makes it a Class 6 felony to promote dogfighting for amusement, sport, or financial gain or to possess, own, train, transport, or sell any dog intended for animal fighting. One count of violating VA Code Ann. § 3.1-796.122(H), which makes it a Class 6 felony to engage in the torture, ill-treatment, beating, maiming, mutilation, or killing of animals. When being questioned about his involvement, due to conflicting statements from his accomplices, Vick had finally admitted to hands on participation. There he revealed that he had lied about his participation in the Bad Newz Kennels, where he had previously stated that he had only funded the project and had now revealed that he had hung multiple dogs. Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison, in comparison to his associates that had only gotten 18-21 months in prison. After serving those months in prison Vick had stated that he had learned from his mistakes and would now like to have a dog to keep as a family pet.

All 49 dogs, that were able to be saved from Bad Newz Kennels, were distributed to multiple shelters, rescues for adoption and rehabilitation. One of those dogs was a dog named Georgia. The New York Times did an article about Georgia. There it describes the scars of what Bad Newz Kennels had done to her. From the broken jaw to puncture wounds on her legs, torso and face and her all of her teeth being pulled. The physical wounds that these survives must have been excruciating but the emotional wounds cut deeper and will always be with these dogs. In the end these dogs had been and seen the worst. They were forced to suffer and fight for their lives. They had to go day for day fighting and performing for these people that enjoyed their suffering. Yet they managed survive and found a ray of hope in new owners that give them the love and comfort that they need. Why was this case so important? This case helped open the blind eyes of the nation and made it more aware about the dangers of animal fighting. Animal fighting could occur in just about anywhere even if it is illegal.

In conclusion animal abuse laws were created to help out laboratory animals. Then the law began to evolve around time and now protect most animals. I hope in the future we will see a future where hunting for sport is banned, a future where man’s best friend can truly call us their best friend. A future where we provide the same support that pets give to us. A future that can save animal of all shape and form.

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The Laws Concerning Animal Abuse In The United States. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 20, 2023, from
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