Animal abuse–what’s going on?

Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

Pet-Abuse.Com & The AARDAS Project

It keeps running through my head–the great Marvin Gaye asking, “What’s going on?” This was a 1971 antiwar and social justice song, but the question applies to the war on animals, as well. “Don’t punish me…with brutality…what’s going on?” If you know the song, chances are good it’s in your head now, too (you could do worse). If you don’t know it, there’s always You Tube.

The local paper reports that a puppy was killed by “its” “owner”–yes, during Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month–for digging holes while chained in the yard. (Thank Dog for neighbors willing to get involved!) The court has ordered him to relinquish his two cats, but in light of this, one wonders about the kids in the house:

“Animal cruelty is a form of family violence and it’s closely correlated with child abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence…And for too long, our approach to dealing with these issues has been a compartmentalized response to this violence based on the identity of the victim and their relationship to the offender.”  –Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for Forensic Science

The RSPCA in Great Britain reports that, in a five year period, reports of animal cruelty have surged 66%. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who just don’t see animals as living creatures, they see them as an object…” said one RSPCA inspector.

Imagine that, seeing animals as objects. Given human greed and the voracious appetite of corporations for more and more, it’s easy to understand why the sentient individual is out and the production unit–times x billion–is in. The commodification of animals steams ahead with genetic manipulations designed to reap ever more profit for corporate factory farms. Animals are good as gold, fueling billion dollar industries like horse racing. How many foals are bred and destroyed in pursuit of the next Triple Crown winner? Who cares? See you in the winner’s circle!

That sentience does not come to bear on such a scale–where the bottom line depends on institutional cruelty and exploitation–is no surprise to most of us. But how does any of this explain killing a puppy for digging holes? Burning a cat alive for fun? Throwing an animal from a moving vehicle?  That these small-scale crimes are frequently perpetrated against domestic companions supports, perhaps, the notion that this is a form of family violence. (Research from 1985 suggests nine recurring typologies.)

Are we seeing the fallout from generations raised on ever more realistically violent and dehumanizing video games? Are we witnessing the result of ever greater alienation from once-nurturing families and communities? Are heinous acts against the defenseless meant to reassure us that–in a world where we are increasingly powerless–we still have some power, even if over “only” an animal? Has this amount of cruelty always been with us–but now, in the instant information age, we are simply more aware of it?

I know when to admit that I’m in over my head, without answers, sad and baffled. This is when we turn inward to examine the dark reaches of the human psyche and ask, what’s going on?


To see a pie chart for your own state, visit

4 Responses

  1. great article. you ask some very pertinent questions there in the last paragraph that, i think, point to some major sources of animal abuse. job well done.

  2. As with any news, particularly crime I always wonder if it always was this way – Or has our ability to report and document these thing made them appear on the increase?

    Either way, I have my own theory as to why humans are so terribly brutal to the innocent. It’s jealousy. In most ways nonhumans are the most privileged of us all. They have no understanding of their deaths, therefore can live blissfully in every moment of true happiness. They are also perfect and complete in that they don’t “need” the trite and constant gratifications that humans do. Nonhumans are the most pure because they simply are what they are without ruse or lies or deceptions.

    Finally, I also think that in our own hurried, human petty-driven lives we’re basically unhappy and unfulfilled – Under the burden of constant worry over nonsense… It is easy to take these frustrations out on victims who are already silenced by nature and by society. One thing is for certain, we’ve a heck of a task to turn things around to any point of justice.

  3. Thank you both for your comments.
    “One thing is for certain, we’ve a heck of a task to turn things around to any point of justice.”
    Amen to THAT, Bea.

  4. The research out of the UK is very worrying. One might hope that the increase was due to more awareness and reporting of cruelty cases rather than an increase, but the RSPCA seems to think otherwise.

    An item we recently added to the database provides some answers: “Silence and Denial in Everyday Life — The Case of Animal Suffering”


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