In the world we live in, animal cruelty is something that should never be excused, but in our country there are loopholes and oversights people can abuse that the law does nothing about. Because animals are considered property in our country, there are very few laws that outline clear rights for them, and the laws that do give animals rights against cruelty are often overlooked in the better interests of people (Buff). To improve the lives of animals in our country, these laws need to be fixed in a way that gives animals the security and safety they deserve. In this essay, I will list examples of these loopholes against animal abuse while explaining how certain laws can be enacted to fix them and make animal lives better.
For example, a simple thing that is overlooked is how easy it is to adopt an animal from either a shelter or pet store. It is very simple to just walk in pick a pet that you can get, sign a contract for ownership and leave without question with a new animal. People can walk out with a new pet and no one will know the intention or background of the person adopting the animal or if the pet is even going into a loving home with a responsible owner. Changes that can be made or created surrounding adoption requirements are background checks based on their criminal history of animal abuse and neglect and ensuring they have a proper environment with the ability to care for the animal’s needs.
Another example of legal animal abuse is the over-breeding of animals, primarily dogs, which is done in establishments called “puppy mills.” Puppy mills are considered breeding centers that are legal in the United States and actually have protection under the Federal Animal Welfare Act provided that they follow regulations for the care of the dogs (PuppyMillProject). In terms of adoption, a dog can be adopted for the purpose of breeding alone, which unfortunately is not considered abuse. In most cases, animal rescue and adoption centers require your pet to be fixed before adoption depending on the age of the animal and whether or not it is a rescued animal. Current animal breeding laws state that a female cannot birth more than 6 litters and cannot have a litter before the age of twelve months. Also, a female cannot have two litters within the period of a year (Legislation.gov). These are commonly ignored and most mills force a dog to breed every heat cycle until they begin to produce weaker offspring. When this occurs, the female is euthanized because she provides nothing else (ASPCA). These laws are rarely enforced with real punishment, and there are multiple cases of puppy mills breaking these laws (PuppyMillProject). Laws for these are already enacted but are rarely enforced and need to be stricter with higher punishments, such as an immediate shut down of an establishment that has multiple cases of breaking these laws, and prosecution for animal abuse towards the owners of the establishments.
One of the lesser-known examples of animal abuse is called animal hoarding. Animal hoarding is when a person “collects” animals, usually dogs or cats, and keeps them in very high numbers in horrible living conditions. It is a majorly unsanitary act and keeps the animals in poor health because the hoarder does not care for the animals, and just feels a need to have as many as they can to themselves. The animals are all kept in the house or wherever the hoarder lives without allowing them outside for fear they will escape, which results in animals very quickly being surrounded by their own feces and other unsanitary conditions that pets can leave. The animals usually receive little food and water because the hoarder does not truly care about the animal’s health and only cares about getting more animals, usually because of a delusion that they are “rescuing” the animals they hoard and that the animals are grateful for the care they provide (ASPCA). The only state that has specific laws against animal hoarding in any extent is Hawaii, but other states allow “collecting” as long as the person in question can prove they can provide for the animal. The hoarders can rarely prove this and are usually prosecuted, but it almost never goes anywhere because the penalty for this crime is simply fine. Many hoarders are likely to resume collecting animals despite being fined anyways due to their mental or emotional instability causing their need to hoard animals (ASPCA). A change towards laws that could be made to improve upon this is stricter punishments for those who commit this crime, such as a short amount of jail time or psychiatric assistance for the accused depending on their actions and situation.
Speaking in terms of animals in mass numbers, animal abuse is likely at its worst inside the “farmed” animal communities. As mentioned, there are laws in place to prevent animal abuse even in animal farms designed to raise and produce animals for meat or milk, but they are often overlooked in the interest of humans. The biggest example of this is found in the animal farms legal excuse called “common farming exemptions”. What that means is that if a practice is common in the farming community while raising the animals, it is not considered abuse as it is a “traditional practice”. One such example of this “exemption” is the searing off of the beaks of young chicks, usually performed with a wood sander, to prevent the chicks from poking holes in tarp inside their cages and to prevent them from fighting. Under the laws, it is illegal to kick or strike a farmed animal, but it is legal to dehorn and brand a cow because it falls under the “common exemptions” that many other abusive practices do (Buff). Changes that need to be made towards these laws are extensive, and begin with the removal of the list of “common exemptions” of animal abuse. The laws were made to protect animals from being abused, but because of a flaw in the system, it simply normalized it and made it legal for anyone who runs an animal farm.
In conclusion, the current laws we have in place to protect the animals in our country extend as far as humans are willing to extend them before it becomes an inconvenience. The laws have exploitable flaws and loopholes that even when found are often overlooked or result only in a small fine, leaving no real change. These systems need to be changed for the lives of all animals to be easier and worth as much as they should be, which is what every living creature deserves.