25 facts on why dog (and cat) abuse occurs

Kids abusing animals are often abused themselves

Kids abusing animals are often abused themselves. Image: MikeB.

Here are 25 facts on why dog and cat abuse occurs. Obviously there will be an overlap with the abuse of animals generally but I would like to focus of dogs (and cats) in this instance for the obvious reason that they are the normal companion animal. I also look at the circumstances surrounding animal abuse. The information comes from studies, scientists and personal thoughts.

  1. All existing studies about the abuse of animals, found that cats and dogs were the animals most often abused. The reason? Because they are ever-present. They are in the home more than any other animal. They are readily available for the animal abuser.
  2. A French study found that 7.3% of 13-18-year old adolescents admitted to committing animal abuse. This is approaching one in ten individuals which I find high and disturbing. It appears that kids abusing animals is more common that adults abusing animals.
  3. Animal abusers normally work alone when they perpetrate their crimes. In a quarter of instances only one other person was present.
  4. It is normally the male of the human species who engages in animal abuse.
  5. Adolescents are most commonly involved in animal abuse over other age groups.
  6. They live in less positive family climates with less support from friends.
  7. They have a lower attachment to school.
  8. And they have a higher rate of anxiety and depression.
  9. Adolescent animal abusers are more often than normal involved in drunkenness and bullying.
  10. Adolescent animal abusers are more likely to believe in speciesism although they often won’t know what the word means. In other words they believe that humans are superior to animals which facilitates their abuse.
  11. This leads me nicely to the next issue which is the value of animals.
  12. Dr. Desmond Morris states that the mongrel dog is more likely to be abused than the purebred because they are “of so little commercial value”. Pure monetary value helps to protect a dog.
  13. And the fact that there are many unwanted dogs lowers the value which facilitates their abuse.
  14. And further, the fact that there are so many unwanted dogs leads to the inevitable conclusion that a great number of them are euthanised at shelters. This is the ultimate low value of mongrel dogs: zero.
  15. If an animal has zero value in the eyes of society and if an adolescent is a bit mixed up and angry, the scene is set for animal abuse. If you destroy an animal with zero value you don’t destroy anything of monetary value.
  16. Clearly, it has to be said that people who abuse animals are unconcerned about the sentience of animals by which I mean that they feel pain and have emotions. They feel fear when they are abused. This doesn’t seem to cross the mind of abusers.
  17. This leads me to another fact namely that psychopathological factors are sometimes (always?) involved in animal abuse. An inability to be concerned about the consequences, specifically the emotional pain caused.
  18. I’ve mentioned aggression. Humans can express their general aggression against others or at the world in general by being aggressive towards a dog. Under these circumstances being a dog means suffering pain.
  19. Dr. Desmond Morris writes “Humans are notorious for redirecting their aggression down the social order”. He goes on to write: “The boss insults his aides, they shout at their underlings, the underlings then shout at their underlings, and so on, down to the very bottom of the social ladder – where sits the trusting dog”. This form of dog abuse starts remotely several steps above and Morris states that “When a dog is kicked and whipped it is hard for it to understand that the rough treatment it is receiving may have begun as a sarcastic phrase in some remote boardroom, which then reverberated down the ranks, gaining momentum all the way, until it ended in the dog’s yelping agony”.
  20. It is recognised that older children who abuse animals are much more likely to have been abused themselves. Is this what Desmond Morris refers to as “redirecting their aggression down the social order”?
  21. Abused older children are 2-3 times more likely to abuse animals than children who have not been abused like this.
  22. Children abusing animals is common with up to 44% of kids likely to do it at some point during their childhood according to another study. This may been under stated figure because it often goes unreported.
  23. 12-year-old children are five times more likely to abuse animals than five year old children.
  24. When a child witnesses violence between their parents they are around three times more likely to abuse animals than children who don’t witness this violence.
  25. In 1996, in Britain, the RSPCA received about 40,000 complaints of cruelty to dogs in that year.

P.S. Social justice should include all vulnerable sentient beings including animals.

Boy abused cat and the event is watched by 7-year-old girl

Boy abused cat and the event is watched by 7-year-old girl

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Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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