It seems the US has made a major push for animal welfare. Cruelty to animals is now placed on the same level as serious crimes such as murder or kidnapping. What exactly does this mean and how can this help animals?
Will Animal Cruelty Be More Strictly Prosecuted in the US? – Shutterstock / Emka74
Until now, animal cruelty has received no special attention in the US and has been categorized under the general category of miscellaneous violations. Cruelty to animals is now considered a felony. As of 2016, the FBI collects numbers and data on tortured animals, just as it collects data on homicides, burglaries, and kidnappings.
Cruelty to Animals in the US: What’s Changing in 2016?
The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) – the US equivalent of the German Federal Police – has previously given little attention to animal cruelty. Cruelty to animals was not considered a felony but was classified under the Miscellaneous category. As the Washington Post reports, animal rights activist Mary Lou Randour, among others, has campaigned to change that. In 2014, after years of fighting, the FBI finally agreed to classify animal cruelty as a felony. A major factor in this decision was that many murderers tortured animals as children and that animal cruelty can be seen as an indication of a lack of empathy – a typical symptom of sociopaths and psychopaths.
Starting in 2016, animal cruelty data will finally be collected, making it possible to compile statistics and gain an overview of the extent of animal suffering. According to the Washington Post, the FBI defines animal cruelty as: “Deliberate, knowing, or reckless conduct that abuses or kills animals without good cause. Examples include torture, cruelty, mutilation, injury, poisoning, and neglect. ” Animal cruelty is divided into four subcategories by the FBI: simple or gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, animal sexual abuse, and organized animal abuse. The latter includes, for example, cock or dog fights.
Rating as a felony: advantage for the animals?
Unfortunately, it has so far been left to the US states voluntarily whether they submit their local figures on animal cruelty to the FBI or not. Randour therefore emphasizes to the “Washington Post” that the next step is to convince the law enforcement officers in the individual states to take part. Because only when the FBI has collected enough data can it gain a statistically relevant overview of animal cruelty in the USA – and thus have enough convincing material for the topic to be taken seriously.
It will probably be a while before this change actually bears fruit and helps the animals. But it’s a step in the right direction and shows that animal welfare awareness is starting to grow in the United States. This could possibly also represent a role model for Germany.
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