Why, and How, Are People Cruel to Pets?

Many people involved with anti-cruelty campaigns are dumbfounded as to why animal cruelty continues to happen. This article shall attempt to address some of the reasons animal cruelty happens in the pet industry. April is animal cruelty prevention mont

April is animal cruelty prevention month. Many people involved with anti-cruelty campaigns are dumbfounded as to why animal cruelty continues to happen. This article shall attempt to address some of the reasons animal cruelty still happens today.


Animal cruelty is hard to define legally. With pets, in most areas all that is required by law is food, shelter, and water, in some areas this includes care for the animals medical needs. As such when investigators are called forth to investigate cruelty they can only act if these are being violated, thus they can seize animals if they are underfed, but cannot seize them if they are under loved.

dogs in rain without shelter

photo source dogs left outside in the rain, with no shelter.

Animal Cruelty that "Benefits" Humans

Some cruelty is allowed. The PMU industry is cruel by most peoples standards, yet completely legal. For those who have not heard of this industry, it is where mares are kept pregnant and in standing tie stalls with bags strapped to them for the collection of urine to drugs use in the female hormone replacement therapy industry. When the mares eventually deliver the majority of the foals are slaughtered as a by-product of the industry (some are sold). The mares may only get 1 hour a day out of their stall, which is narrow, maybe only four feet wide.

Other allowable cruelty continues in the area of animal testing. People need to be aware that even when a product says it was not tested on animals, perhaps its ingredients were. Such tests involve putting chemicals into the eyes, or on the ears of animals, injecting them with chemicals, and so forth.

puppy mill

Photo - Wikimedia.  This is a typically puppy mill where hundreds of dogs may be kept isolated for breeding.

The pet store industry supports amazing levels of cruelty. Puppy mills and other mass breeders support the stores with animals. While many people feel they are “rescuing” pets when they buy from pet stores, they are in fact supporting this industry and encouraging the breeding of more animals in horrid conditions. Rabbits for example, are warehoused and bred over and over, until they cannot breed any longer, then their necks are broken. The same thing happens with dogs. These animals are rarely handled by their keepers and in some areas this is legal, and only brought to the public's attention when conditions at the puppy mill are so bad and somebody actually reports them. Most of these breeders are well hidden from the public's eye and the stores are not even aware of conditions as the animals are either delivered to them or sold through brokers.

Satisfy Perversions

Some cruelties are illegal but people do them to satisfy themselves and their perversions. Crush films would be a good example of this. Also people who enjoy inflicting pain find a perverse pleasure in torturing pets. Many serial killers have confessed they started off by torturing and killing animals offered as “Free to good home”.

Some People Never Learned Compassion to Animals

A few people were not taught as children to be compassionate to animals.  This may start with a child who is encouraged to step on bugs, or a child who watches their parent kill pests, such as mice, with no remorse.  These people soon become indifferent or intrigued by animals suffering.

Poor Anger Management Issues

Some people take their frustrations out on their pet.  To go further, some people punish a pet own by another person if they are mad at that person.

Angry Neighbors

Some acts of cruelty happen because a neighbor is mad at somebodies pet. This could be a dog who barks, a cat who digs in their garden, or any such thing. The person might not even know which pet is to blame and simply starts hating all animals of a certain type. Rather than getting the proper authorities to handle the problem or talking to the neighbors, they take it upon themselves to act, and do so by harming the animals in their neighborhood.

This is a very preventable cruelty as people should be aware that their pets might not be welcome by their neighbors and as such they need to be mindful of this.


Sometimes people get animals and are ignorant as to what kind of care commitment is involved. While this is no excuse for cruelty, it is a common cause. Such problems could happen when pets outgrow their cage, a common problem for reptiles, such as iguanas who grow very large.  Many people keep pets such as hamsters and even fish in cages far too small for their mental needs.  Rome has banned keeping goldfish in bowls, but other nations still allow this and the fish are often stunted because of the toxins that build up in the water (people are often told these fish only grow as big as the bowl allows, which is false). 

small hamster cages

photo source Even the largest cage in this picture is not enough space for a hamster to really be happy.

Other areas where cruelty happens as a result of ignorance is when a pets diet is not being properly met. This often happens with exotic pets. Or when a person is simply unaware of a pets individual care requirements, and exercise needs.

Overwhelmed or Lazy Owners

Some people get pets and become overwhelmed by the care and needs of the pet. They fail to take the pet to the vet when it should and soon fall behind on cleaning and socialization. Make no mistake, this is cruelty. People should not get pets without researching and planning. Even getting a dog and failing to take it to obedience lessons can be cruel in a sense, as if the dog becomes unmanageable it is either unsafe, or often it is abandoned.

Unable to deal with the pet properly these people may punish the pet by kicking it or so forth.

sad cat

photo source

Related Links

How Buying from Pet Stores helps Support Cruelty

How to Provide better care for a Farm Cat

The Most Common Mistakes Pet Owners Make

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Posted on Apr 4, 2010