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According to the Black’s Law Dictionary: cruelty to animals is the infliction of physical pain, suffering or death upon an animal, when not necessary for purposes of training or discipline or (in the case of death) to procure food or to release the animal from incurable suffering, but done wantonly, for mere sport, for the indulgence of a cruel and vindictive temper, or with reckless indifference to its pain.
The single greatest obstacle to drafting, interpreting and more effectively enforcing animal-protection laws is the premise on which they are based. Constitutionally designed to protect people from acts that are considered offensive to human morality, these laws do not always consider animals’ true biological and social needs.
Nowhere is this more evident than in humane law enforcement. Each day in the MSPCA’s Law Enforcement Department brings calls from people concerned about activities that they consider cruel but that may not violate any law.
Examples of cruelty:
One of the most common, and sometimes heart-wrenching, of such calls concerns the dog chained to a doghouse 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. The dog is fed and watered adequately and is in good physical condition; but its only contact with another living creature occurs when its owner sees to its basic physical needs. The dog, like most dogs, apparently craves companionship, as it often cries incessantly. But it lives in near-total social isolation.
In almost every jurisdiction, a person is liable for all losses and damages that result from his or her negligence. With certain exceptions, dog owners, people who handle dogs, people who harbor dogs, and everyone else connected in any way with a dog can be held responsible if their negligence causes injuries. The doctrine of negligence may make a person liable not only for bites but also for non-bite injuries.
Negligence is usually defined as an unreasonable action, or unreasonable omission to take action or give a warning. Negligence also is defined as the lack of ordinary care; that is, the absence of the kind of care a reasonably prudent and careful person would exercise in similar circumstances. If a person’s conduct in a given circumstance doesn’t measure up to the conduct of an ordinarily prudent and careful person, then that person is negligent. An example of an unreasonable action would be a dog owner letting go of his dog’s leash when another dog approaches, so that the dogs can “play.” An unreasonable omission might be the failure to keep a dog away from guests, where the dog is known to play too roughly and knock people down. Negligence can consist of putting a watchdog on a bed with a crying infant.
Examples of how courts have come down on the negligence:
- . A dog is chained in the unfenced front yard, so that it can’t reach the sidewalk, and a “Beware of Dog” sign is posted. Someone walks up to the dog and gets bitten. Ruled: The owner was not negligent. Confining the dog inside the owner’s property and posting a sign are reasonable precautions against someone being injured.
- A house guest, searching for the bathroom, is frightened when she hears the hosts’ dog growl, and falls down a flight of stairs. The dog was behind a gate in the laundry room, across the hall from the bathroom. Ruled: The owners were not negligent; they took reasonable precautions and were not liable for the injury. (Partipilo v. DiMaria, 211 Ill. App. 3d 813 (1991).)
- A dog owner lets his dog loose in his yard, and the dog runs at a bicyclist riding by. Trying to avoid the dog, the cyclist is thrown from his bicycle and suffers permanent hearing loss. Jury verdict: The dog’s owner was negligent. (Laylon v. Shaver, 590 N.Y.S.2d 615 (App. Div. 1992).)
- A dog owner lets his dog loose in his yard, and the dog runs into the street and hits a motorcycle, seriously injuring the riders. Ruled: Because the dog did not have a history of chasing vehicles, the dog owner was not negligent. (Williams v. Hill, 658 So. 2d 381 (Ala. 1995).)
- A contractor leaves a gate open, allowing the property owner’s dog to get out and injure a neighbor. The contractor wasn’t liable for the injury, because he didn’t have a responsibility to keep the injured person safe from the dog. (Williams v. City of New York, 306 A.D.2d 203 (2003).).
- Dogs that lose fights (or refuse) are often abandoned, tortured, set on fire, electrocuted, shot, drowned, or beaten to death.
- Chaining dogs, while unfortunately legal in most areas, is one of the cruelest punishments imaginable for social animals. Embedded collars are one of the largest problems seen among Salisbury vets and animal control.
- Regardless of how trivial or painful animal experiments may be, none are prohibited by law.
- 4 to 5 million animals die in shelters every year.
- Neglect and abandonment are the most common forms of companion animal abuse in the United States.
- Approx 5-7 mill companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year
- Shelter intake is evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control
- Less than 2 percent of cats and only 15-20 percent of dogs are returned to their owners. Most of these were identified with tags, tattoos or microchips
- More than 20 percent of people who leave dogs in shelters adopted them from a shelter
- Only 10 percent of animals received by shelters have been spayed and neutered. This is one of the biggest issues regarding animals in the Salisbury area.
- Dogs used for fighting are chained, taunted, and starved to trigger extreme survival instincts and encourage aggressiveness
- The cost of spaying/neutering your pets is less than the cost of raising puppies/kittens for a year
- The average number of litter a fertile cat produces is one to two a year, average number of kittens 4-6 per litter.
- The average number of litters a fertile dog produces is one a year, average number of puppies is 4-6 per litter.