Stricter Animal Laws Needed
Cruelty to animals is a major ethical concern facing society today. There is a significant link between animal and human abuse as well as benefits of pet ownership. My membership in the American Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (ASPCA) has shown me the need for harsher animal welfare laws, some of which I will highlight in this article.
Many of the laws still classify animals as ‘property’, which makes harm, or even death, comparable to the destruction of your car or a clock. Proof of this legal mentality is shown in the fact that there are still eight states that classify animal cruelty as a misdemeanor, but of the forty-three (including D.C.) that do consider these atrocious acts felonies, many consider beating or neglect a misdemeanor that only becomes a felony upon death. The bottom line is that animals are sentient beings, which can think and feel, and need our protection.
A good example is the transportation of baby birds. Every year, baby birds are shipped through the US Postal Service by hatcheries. These living creatures are packed into boxes and mailed, with no food or water, or concern as to temperature extremes. This results in the death of countless birds every year. To combat this unethical practice, the USPS adopted policies to ensure safer conditions for the birds. In response to these new policies, Senator Charles Grassley has introduced a new bill (S.2395), which would remove the Postal Service’s authority to implement the new regulations. This bill would require that certain airlines be used to transport birds, and that they may use connecting flights instead of direct flights, with temperatures between 0 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
An even more disturbing fact is that there is a well recognized link between people who commit animal abuse and those who abuse children. A survey of pet-owning families with substantiated child abuse and neglect found that animals were abused in 88% of homes where child physical abuse was present. Eric Smith, a young 12-year old boy, strangled his neighbor’s cat with a garden hose. A year later, at age 13, he murdered a 4-year old boy. Jeffery Dahmer and David Berkowitz both tortured and killed animals when they were children, and then went on to become well-known serial killers as adults. The evidence of the connections between animal and human abuse is hard to deny.
It is also a commonly known fact that pet ownership may help promote longer living. It’s now being shown that elderly people who own pets are living happier lives. Caring for the animals promotes exercise and gives older people something else to care for besides just themselves, according to the Pet Information Bureau, Washington D.C.
With more and more studies and research coming out about animals and pet ownership, the moral aspect is becoming more important also. This is why I believe that animal welfare is a major ethical concern facing society today. So why don’t we all take a look at these laws and make some changes?