Laws concerning animal cruelty are designed to prevent needless cruelty to animals, rather than killing for other aims such as food, or they concern species not eaten as food in the country involved, such as those regarded as pets.
There are many reasons why individuals abuse animals. Animal cruelty covers a wide range of actions (or lack of action). Learning about animal abuse has revealed patterns of behavior employed by abusers.
Animal cruelty is often broken down into two main categories: active and passive, also referred to as commission and omission, respectively.
Passive cruelty is typified by cases of neglect, in which the cruelty is a lack of action rather than the action itself. Examples of neglect are starvation, dehydration, parasite infestations, allowing a collar to grow into an animal’s skin, inadequate shelter in extreme weather conditions, and failure to seek veterinary care when necessary.
Active cruelty implies malicious intent, as when a person has deliberately and intentionally caused harm to an animal, and is sometimes referred to as NAI (Non-Accidental Injury). Acts of intentional animal cruelty may be indicators of serious psychological problems.There is an intrinsic link between battered pets and battered women and children. The likelihood that women's shelter personnel will encounter women and children who have been threatened by batterers using animal abuse as a weapon is high. This is because more families in America have pets than have children. Secondly, the majority of pet owners are themselves parents with children. Thirdly, 64.1% of households with children under age 6, and 74.8% of households with children over age 6, also have pets. Lastly, as many as 71% of pet-owning women seeking shelter at safe houses have reported that their partner had threatened and/or actually hurt or killed one or more of their pets; 32% of these women reported that one or more of their children had also hurt or killed pets. Battered women report that they are prevented from leaving their abusers because they fear what will happen to the animals in their absence. Animal abuse sometimes is used as a form of intimidation in domestic disputes.
One of the known warning signs of certain psychopathologies, including antisocial personality disorder, also known as psychopathic personality disorder, is a history of torturing pets and small animals, a behavior known as zoosadism. According to the New York Times, "[t]he FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appears in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders."A survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found all of them had high levels of aggression toward people as well, including one patient who had murdered a young boy." Robert K. Ressler, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's behavioral sciences unit, studied serial killers and noted,"Murderers like this (Jeffrey Dahmer) very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids."
Cruelty to animals is one of the three components of the Macdonald triad, indicators of violent antisocial behavior in children and adolescents. According to the studies used to form this model, cruelty to animals is a common (but not universal) behavior in children and adolescents who grow up to become serial killers and other violent criminals.
In two separate studies cited by the Humane Society of the United States roughly one-third of families suffering from domestic abuse indicated that at least one child had hurt or killed a pet.
Animal cruelty has long been an issue with the art form of filmmaking, with even some big-budget Hollywood films receiving criticism for allegedly harmful—and sometimes lethal—treatment of animals during production. One of the most infamous examples of animal cruelty in film was Michael Cimino's legendary flop Heaven's Gate, in which numerous animals were brutalized and even killed during production. Cimino allegedly killed chickens and bled horses from the neck to gather samples of their blood to smear on actors for Heaven's Gate, and also allegedly had a horse blown up with dynamite while shooting a battle sequence, the shot of which made it into the film. After the release of the film Reds, the star and director of the picture, Warren Beatty apologized for his Spanish film crew's use of tripwires on horses while filming a battle scene, when Beatty wasn't present. Tripwires were used against horses when Rambo III and The Thirteenth Warrior were being filmed. An ox was sliced nearly in half during production of Apocalypse Now, while a donkey was bled to death for dramatic effect for the film Manderlay, in a scene later cut from the film.
Cruelty in film exists in movies outside the United States. There is a case of cruelty to animals in the South Korean film The Isle, according to its director Kim Ki-Duk In the film, a real frog is skinned alive while fish are mutilated. Several animals were killed for the camera in the controversial Italian film Cannibal Holocaust The images in the film include the slow and graphic beheading and ripping apart of a turtle, a monkey being beheaded and its brains being consumed by natives and a spider being chopped apart. In fact, Cannibal Holocaust was only one film in a collective of similarly themed movies (cannibal films) that featured unstaged animal cruelty. Their influences were rooted in the films of Mondo filmmakers, which sometimes contained similar content. In several countries, such as the UK, Cannibal Holocaust was only allowed for release with most of the animal cruelty edited out.
More recently, the video sharing site YouTube has been criticized for hosting thousands of videos of real life animal cruelty, especially the feeding of one animal to another for the purposes of entertainment and spectacle. Although some of these videos have been flagged as inappropriate by users, YouTube has generally declined to remove them, unlike videos which include copyright infringement.The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) has contracted with the American Humane Association (AHA) for monitoring of animal use during filming or while on the set. Compliance with this arrangement is voluntary and only applies to films made in the United States. Films monitored by the American Humane Association may bear one of their end-credit messages. Many productions, including those made in the US, do not advise AHA or SAG of animal use in films, so there is no oversight.
Simulations of animal cruelty exist on television, too. On the September 23, 1999 edition of WWE Smackdown!, a plot line had professional wrestler Big Boss Man trick fellow wrestler Al Snow into appearing to eat his pet chihuahua Pepper