Animals/ Pets

Facts and figures about animal cruelty

Most cases of animal abuse are not reported. Federal or state agencies do not write animal abuse cases. This makes it hard to estimate how frequent they are. We can still use the available information to prevent abuse and understand it.

Who abuses animals and why

Media reports indicate that animal abuse occurs in rural and urban settings.

Intentional cruelty towards animals is closely linked to other crimes, including violence against humans.

Animals are often victims of hoarding. Hoarding disorders can cause animals to be neglected by those who are not able or willing to take proper care of them. Severe animal neglect, such as hoarding, often indicates that someone needs mental or social health services.

According to surveys, those who abuse animals intentionally are primarily men younger than 30, while animal hoarders are more likely women older than 60.

The most common victims

Dogs, cats, horses, and animals are the most commonly reported abuse cases. Animal abuse is rampant in factory farms, according to undercover investigations. Because of the lack of protections for livestock in state cruelty laws, only the most horrific cases are reported and prosecuted.

Organized cruelty

In many parts of the United States, dogfighting, cockfighting, and other forms of organized animal cruelty are linked to other crimes.

The HSUS photographed uniformed officers at a cockfighting ring in Kentucky.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency prosecuted several cases where drug cartels ran narcotics by cockfighting or dogfighting operations.

At cockfights or dogfights, dozens of deaths have been reported.

A California man died in a dispute over a $10 bet on cockfights.

The HSUS investigative team has worked with the FBI in Tennessee and Virginia on public corruption cases. In both cases, law enforcement officials were indicted.

Correlation between domestic violence and terrorism

The data on domestic violence cases and child abuse shows that an alarming number of animals are targeted by abusers.

In the U.S., there are about 70 million pet dogs and 74.1million pet cats, and twenty men and women assaulted every minute (on average around 10 million per year).

In a survey, 71% of victims of domestic violence reported that the abuser had also targeted their pets.

Researchers found that 88 percent of families who were under surveillance for suspected physical abuse against their children had also abused pets.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund, in order to stop this violence pattern, supported the Pets and Women’s Safety Act (PAWS Act), which was introduced to Congress as H.R. The Humane Society Legislative Fund supported the Pets and Women’s Safety (PAWS) Act, introduced to Congress in 2015 as H.R. 1559, and was enacted in 2018 as part of Farm Bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. The PAWS Act will help victims of domestic violence find a way to leave their abusers, while also keeping their companion animals secure. Many victims stay in abusive homes for fear that their pets are not safe.

State legislative trends

The HSUS has been a leader in the fight for animal cruelty laws, and offers training to law enforcement officials on how to identify and prosecute crimes. Animal cruelty laws are now felony provisions in every state. South Dakota joined the fight in March 2014 and is part of the 50-state effort.

First offense vs. second offense

We are committed to securing felony convictions for severe animal cruelty, given that only a small fraction of cruelty cases are reported and successfully prosecuted.

49 States have laws that provide for felony punishments for animal abuse on the first offence.

Only Iowa does not have such a statute.

Animal cruelty laws usually cover animal abuse and neglect that is intentional and egregious.

Changes to federal tracking

The FBI, which is a national crime reporting system used for homicide investigations, added animal cruelty as a in the Uniform Crime Report on January 1, 2016. The data collected will allow for a better understanding of animal abuse, and help guide strategies to prevent and punish it. The data collection is divided into four categories: simple/gross negligence, intentional abuse and torturing, organized abuse (such as cockfighting and dogfighting), and animal sexual abuse.