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Chapter One: Definitions of Animal Cruelty, Abuse, and Neglect Randy Lockwood and Phil Arkow Copyright © 2013 Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.
Introduction Animal cruelty is difficult to define. Laws reflect cultural norms. Historically, concern regarding animal cruelty focused on the loss of the use of the animal(s) as property, or on other harm to humans resulting from the animal cruelty. (e.g., St. Thomas Aquinas, Emmanuel Kant). Defining animal cruelty as an evil based on the harm to the animal itself is relatively recent. (e.g., Reverend Humphrey Primatt). Copyright © 2013 Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.
Definitions of Terms Most state anti-cruelty statutes are composed of six elements: The types of animals protected The types of acts prohibited or duties of care required The mental culpability required to meet a standard of liability The defenses to criminal liability Certain activities exempted from the law Penalties for each offense Copyright © 2013 Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.
Definitions Dimensions affecting societal and legal response to cruel acts The intrinsic or extrinsic value of the animal victim The deviant nature of the act itself Public and professional recognition of the victims’ capacity for stress, pain, fear, or suffering The financial costs of enforcement Copyright © 2013 Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.
Definitions Acts of animal cruelty may be individualized versus institutionalized. Most cases reported to humane law enforcement agencies are cases of neglect, rather than abuse. Definitions of animal cruelty vary between countries and even between time periods in one country. Copyright © 2013 Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.
Perspectives on Definitions Scholars have been unsuccessful in coming up with a definition thus far. Felthous and Kellert’s (1987) definition had inherent problems. – Substantial cruelty to animals is a “pattern of deliberately, repeatedly, and unnecessarily hurting vertebrate animals in a manner likely to cause serious injury.” Copyright © 2013 Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.
Perspectives on Definitions Ascione (1993) defined animal cruelty as “socially unacceptable behavior that intentionally causes unnecessary pain, suffering, or distress to and/or death of an animal.” Ascione and Shapiro (2009) defined animal abuse. – They changed the term from “cruelty” to “abuse.” – They added “non-accidental” to fit with the new veterinary forensics terminology (Non-Accidental Injury or NAI). – They eliminated the word “intentionally.” Copyright © 2013 Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.
Government Panels The Brambell Commission in UK (led by Prof. Brambell) investigated the welfare farmed animals. The Farm Animal Welfare Council codified the Five Freedoms: – Freedom from hunger and thirst – Freedom from discomfort – Freedom from pain, injury, and disease – Freedom to express normal behavior – Freedom from fear and distress Copyright © 2013 Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.
Public Opinion Morgan (1983) described a continuum of public attitudes toward animals. – Radical attitudes—Animal Liberation and activist Animal Rights – Centrist attitudes—Animal Welfare and Animal Control – Conservative attitudes—Animal Use and Animal Exploitation Copyright © 2013 Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.
Legislation and Law Enforcement Anti-cruelty statutes are most often found among offenses against public morals, order, and decency (with little focus on the victim). Animal welfare laws vary from state to state, and are ever-changing. Copyright © 2013 Carolina Academic Press. All rights reserved.
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