Cruelty to animals is a crime, but in terms of being reported as a crime on the National Incident Based Reporting System, instances of animal cruelty have always been reported under the category of “all other offenses”. The U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation recently announced that this practice is about to change and that instances of animal cruelty will be reported as their own crime, WCVB5 News reports.
How Did the Change Come About?
For many years, researchers have petitioned the FBI to count animal cruelty as its own crime so that data concerning the number of instances of animal cruelty could be tracked and analyzed. Proposals were submitted by the Animal Welfare Institute and the National Sheriff’s Association to make the change to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, and the FBI has decided to oblige.
Animal Cruelty will be classified as a Group A offense under the category of Crimes against Society, and will include all instances in which a person knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly acts to mistreat or kill an animal without justification by means that include torture, mutilation, torment, maiming, abandonment, and neglect or poisoning.
Why is Tracking Animal Cruelty Data Important?
Animal cruelty has been known as a precursor for more violent criminal behavior in those who commit animal cruelty. Similarly, people who engage in violent acts and violent criminal conduct often also engage in acts of cruelty to animals. Tracking this kind of data will allow law enforcement, criminologists, and criminal psychologists to learn more about pathologically violent behavior in people and the link between animal cruelty and the commission of other violent crimes against people. The data will also be helpful for law enforcement official to make budget allocations for these types of crimes against animals.
What Is Not Animal Cruelty?
Claims of animal cruelty often come down to a matter of perception. There are many acts that pet owners commit on their pets that the pet owner would adamantly say is not cruelty, while an observer of the conduct might strongly disagree with. Some inflictions of physical pain or suffering on an animal are not cruelty. For example:
- Some show animals must be maintained in a certain way in order to compete. For instance, a dog might need to maintain a specific weight, which requires a restrictive diet. This is different than starving the animal.
- Training an animal may sometimes require an owner or trainer to inflict pain on an animal.
- Physical restraint or striking may be warranted if an animal gets out of control or becomes overly aggressive.
- If an animal is in immense incurable pain, it may be better for the animal to end its life in a non-pain inducing way.
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