Information on Animal Cruelty

Animal lovers often ask, "Why do people abuse animals?" Simple question, complicated answer.


Most people who abuse animals don't do it on purpose. They hurt animals because they don't think about or realize what they are doing.

  • Many of these people don't know that what they are doing is cruel. For example, some may keep a dog in their yard with a doghouse that is on the ground and gets flooded with water when it rains, or they keep their dog on a short chain all of the time without realizing that the dog needs better shelter.
  • Some people will try to keep their pet under control by using cruel types of discipline. They may think that punishment and intimidation are the best ways to solve a problem, when in fact they aren't.
  • Other people are cruel because they don't pay attention. For example, someone might forget to give their cat water for a few days or leave their dog in a car on a hot day with the windows rolled up.
  • Some people hurt animals even though they think they're helping them by taking in more pets than they can handle. These people are called hoarders.  The motivation comes from a good place, but unfortunately, the animals end up living in a place that's cramped, dirty and unhealthy.

Nearly all of these people can learn to understand that they are being cruel through education and increasing their awareness of the needs of their animal. Since most of the people who abuse animals make up this group, this means that most of the people who abuse animals can be helped with basic education.


The next biggest group of animal abusers does it on purpose, but only for a short period of time. For example, a group of kids may decide to throw rocks at a nest of baby birds they happened to see, or they may hurt a stray cat in their neighborhood.

  • These people are usually young, and they hurt animals because they aren't thinking, or because they can't stand up to their friends and peer pressure.
  • The ones who are aren't really thinking might be mad at someone else and kick their pet out of frustration. Or they may think it's fun to watch an animal run away scared, without really thinking about how the animal feels.
  • The ones who are giving in to peer-pressure might be trying to show off to their friends. Or they may be with a group of friends who are all trying to impress each other, and so they go along with what everyone else is doing.

Intentionally hurting animals for any reason is serious. In most states, those caught doing this will face harsher punishment than those who hurt animals unintentionally. However, these people usually don't hurt animals more than a few times. They learn to think about how others feel, and they learn to stand up for themselves. This group can be helped through education and support, too.

Cruel Intention

This last group of people who hurt animals is the worst. These are people who intentionally hurt animals because they enjoy hurting others or because it makes them feel powerful.

  • A lot of these people want to have control over others. They will hurt an animal because they think this means they control the animal. Or they may hurt the animal to control another person. For example, a husband might hurt the family's pet to show his wife what he could do to her too. Someone else might make his dog kill other dogs because he thinks that makes him powerful.
  • Others simply enjoy pain and violence. Those who enjoy violence might also destroy inanimate objects as well as hurt animals and people.
  • All of the people in this last group suffer from serious, psychological problems that will probably not go away on their own. They often need the help of licensed professionals—like a psychologist.  Without help, the psychological problems these people have can haunt them for their whole lives.