Imagine driving home one day and you notice the car ahead of you is slowing down slightly, you think they are having car problems so you slow down too, perhaps you can offer assistance. But instead you see someone in the car throwing a dog out of the window into the ditch and then speed off. Shocked and sickened you pull off of the road and run over to where the dog was thrown. You can tell the dog is alive and it appears that his back legs are broken so you carefully pick him up and usher him to the vet. You breathe a sigh of relief when the vet tells you he will make a full recovery. You find a home for him and now Rocket lives happily in Southern California. Unfortunately not all animals who are victims of animal cruelty are so lucky. It is difficult for us to comprehend anyone causing such harm to any animal but it is far more common than we realize which is why animal protection laws are so important.
We’ve come a long way in improving our animal protection laws since 1641 when the first animal protection law was passed. Though the laws at that time were directed more towards working animals it was at least the start that would lay the groundwork for our current laws and we continue to make progress. Prior to 1986 only four states had laws against animal cruelty, now all fifty do. Illinois, Oregon, Maine, California and Michigan are the states offering the most protection with the harshest penalties while North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Iowa and Kentucky are the states lagging behind.
Animal cruelty is not limited to a violent act towards an animal but also includes any neglect and failing to provide for the animal’s general care and well-being. Most of us are aware that there is a strong correlation between violence towards animals and violence towards humans. This awareness has prompted law enforcement to take these crimes much more seriously. Earlier this year it was announced that animal abuse will now be considered a Group A felony prompting harsher punishment and penalties. The ASPCA estimates that in this country an animal is abused every ten seconds. Exact numbers are impossible to determine because much of the abuse goes unreported.
Animals offer us unconditional love and companionship, it is our responsibility to ensure they are protected and cared for which includes reporting any incidents of animal cruelty or neglect. Please take the time to check into your state and local animal protection laws to make sure the laws sufficiently guard against and punish animal cruelty. If they don’t offer adequate protection be the voice for those that don’t have one.