Today, the last day of April, concludes Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.

Mary & Mickey square

ARL president, Mary Nee

Bringing greater attention to the issue is, of course, central to what the ARL does all year long, yet if you asked me why should we bring greater attention to the issue of animal cruelty, I’d say the reasons go well beyond the mission of our organization.

Reason #1: Animal cruelty is a big problem.

In 2013, the ARL assisted in the investigation of 567 cases of animal cruelty—that’s more than one case a day and we’re just one of many organizations and law enforcement agencies in the state legally pursuing animal welfare issues.

When you consider that at least 80% of animal cruelty remains undiscovered, the magnitude of the problem truly sinks in.

Reason #2: Animal cruelty can indicate other illegal activity, domestic abuse, and mental illness.

Animal cruelty can take many forms.  The intentions behind deliberately inflicting injuries or failing to provide minimum care and nutrition can vary.

Sometimes an animal is physically abused or denied basic care for sport or other financial gain, as in the case of staged dog fighting.  Other times, an animal is intentionally harmed to physically or emotionally intimidate a partner or family member.  In still others, a hoarding compulsion quickly overwhelms an owner’s ability to provide basic care and nutrition to the animals living in the home or on the property.

In each situation, however, the safety and well-being of animals, people, and our communities are all potentially at risk.

Startling statistics remind us of the strong connection between animal cruelty and other forms of violence and criminal behavior.  In a Massachusetts study, for example, 70% of animal abusers had criminal records including crimes involving violence, property, drugs, or disorderly behavior (Arluke & Luke, 1997).

Reason #3: What we do to address animal cruelty reflects our tolerance for other forms of family and community violence.

Heightened awareness of how animals are cared for and treated not only helps reduce the number of tragic cases of animal suffering, but also moves us closer to a more just and humane society where both people and animals are valued.

Whether it’s violence against an animal, child, or an adult, we should all do something to stop it from happening.

Reporting suspicions of animal cruelty to local authorities plays a critical role in prevention.  As we have talked about all this month, if when you see something, please say something and call your local police. 

You will make a tremendous difference in the lives of people and animals.

– Mary Nee, President of the Animal Rescue League of Boston

Test your knowledge of animal cruelty issues by taking the ARL’s Animal Cruelty Quiz and learn more about what you can do to prevent animal cruelty at arlboston.org/take-action