In the world we inhabit, the abhorrent act of animal cruelty should never find justification. However, within our nation, there exist certain loopholes and oversights that unscrupulous individuals exploit, and the law remains impotent in addressing such issues. Animals are regarded as mere property, leading to a dearth of comprehensive legislation outlining their rights. Sadly, laws meant to protect animals from cruelty are often disregarded in favor of human interests (Buff). To ameliorate the lives of animals in our country, these laws must be refined to provide them with the security and safety they deserve. In this essay, I shall enumerate instances of these loopholes pertaining to animal abuse and propose ways to enact certain laws to rectify these issues, ultimately leading to the betterment of animals' lives.
Instances of Animal Abuse and How to Prevent Them
For example, a simple but overlooked matter is the ease with which one can adopt an animal from either a shelter or a pet store. The process is overly uncomplicated, allowing individuals to acquire a pet swiftly, sign an ownership contract, and leave without scrutiny. This lack of scrutiny raises concerns about the adopter's intentions and background. It remains uncertain whether the pet will be placed in a loving home under the care of a responsible owner. To address this, adoption requirements should include comprehensive background checks, scrutinizing the individual's history for any instances of animal abuse or neglect. Additionally, potential owners should be assessed to ensure they can provide a suitable environment catering to the animal's needs.
Another instance of legal animal abuse lies in the over-breeding of animals, particularly dogs, commonly practiced in establishments known as "puppy mills." Remarkably, these mills operate legally in the United States and even enjoy protection under the Federal Animal Welfare Act, provided they adhere to certain regulations for the dogs' care (Puppy Mill Project). Disturbingly, dogs are sometimes adopted solely for the purpose of breeding, a practice that escapes classification as abuse. Reputable animal rescue and adoption centers usually require animals to be sterilized before adoption, depending on their age and origin. Current animal breeding laws dictate that a female cannot have more than six litters and cannot have a litter before reaching twelve months of age. Furthermore, a female cannot have two litters within a single year (Legislation.gov). Unfortunately, these laws are frequently disregarded, with many mills subjecting dogs to continuous breeding, resulting in weaker offspring. The female dogs are then disposed of once they are no longer deemed useful (ASPCA). Enforcement of these laws is uncommon, leading to numerous instances of puppy mills flouting regulations (Puppy Mill Project). Stricter measures with more severe consequences, such as immediate closure of establishments with repeated violations and prosecution of the owners for animal abuse, are necessary to uphold these laws effectively.
An often overlooked example of animal abuse is the act of animal hoarding, whereby an individual "collects" animals, typically dogs or cats, in excessively high numbers under deplorable living conditions. This unsanitary and harmful practice neglects the animals' well-being, denying them proper care and subjecting them to unhealthy environments, often surrounded by their own waste (ASPCA). Animal hoarders maintain an illusion of rescuing these animals, falsely believing that their actions are appreciated by the animals they accumulate. While Hawaii has specific laws against animal hoarding, other states permit this practice if the hoarder can demonstrate they can provide for the animals. However, such proof is rarely substantiated, and prosecutions seldom lead to significant consequences, with mere fines being the usual punishment. Many hoarders are prone to relapse, driven by their mental or emotional instability, leading to a recurring desire to collect animals (ASPCA). To tackle this issue, stricter penalties should be imposed on those who commit animal hoarding, ranging from short jail terms to mandatory psychiatric assistance, depending on the offender's actions and circumstances.
Looking at animals on a larger scale, the most severe form of abuse occurs within the "farmed" animal communities. While laws do exist to prevent animal abuse in these farms, which primarily raise animals for meat or milk, they are often overlooked in favor of human interests. A striking example is the "common farming exemptions," which provide legal cover for practices considered common in the farming industry, thus escaping classification as abuse under the pretext of being "traditional." One such example is the searing off of young chicks' beaks using a wood sander to prevent them from damaging tarps in their cages or engaging in fights. Although the law prohibits kicking or striking farmed animals, dehorning and branding cows remain legal due to these "common exemptions," which extend to various other abusive practices (Buff). To address this, the list of "common exemptions" for animal abuse should be abolished, ensuring that all animals are protected under the law, and such harmful practices are no longer justified or permitted.
In conclusion, the current laws meant to protect animals in our country only extend as far as society deems convenient. These laws possess exploitable flaws and loopholes that are often disregarded, resulting in negligible change. It is imperative that these systems be reformed to afford animals the value and care they rightfully deserve as sentient beings.
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