Animal cruelty is a serious problem that is still being legally defined in the United States. Studies have shown that people who are cruel to animals are also likely to be cruel to other people.  Still, some people commit acts of cruelty out of ignorance rather than intention. Hopefully the following 3 laws will stop the willfully cruel people and educate those who don’t know how to treat their pets.

Animal Cruelty Law #1: The Animal Crush Prohibition Act of 2010

Animal Cruelty Laws Helping Cats - Gray Cat with pink high heels

Photo Credit: April Killingsworth via Flickr Note: This beautiful kitty was not part of any animal crush activities as far as I am aware.

This first animal cruelty law is intended to stop the actions of those who are intentionally cruel to animals. It follows on the heels of another animal cruelty law that was struck down by the Supreme Court. The former law was in regards to videos that showed animal fighting and other acts of animal cruelty. The Supreme Court decided in favor of a maker of dog fighting videos because they felt that the law was too broad and conflicted with the video maker’s right to free speech. The problem was that the law prohibited videos that “depicted” dog fighting (meaning that there didn’t have to be any actual dog fighting taking place) and the type of cruelty was not specific enough.

Back to the drawing board, law makers on Capitol Hill decided to make a much narrower animal cruelty bill – the Animal Crush Prohibition Act of 2010. Just in case you haven’t heard of animal crush videos, these are fetish videos where someone (usually a woman in high heels) crushes a small animal, like a kitten or a rabbit, to death for the viewer’s sexual pleasure. The law prohibits the making, selling, or distributing of animal crush videos. Those who violate the law could face up to 7 years in prison.

Since President Obama signed the Animal Prohibition Act of 2010 into law, it has indeed been challenged. Two people in Texas who were found guilty of making and distributing animal crush videos took their appeal to higher courts. One court agreed with the video makers and said that the law was unconstitutional. However, on June 13, 2014 the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals over turned that ruling and upheld the law as written.

Animal Cruelty Law #2: The Pet Tattoo Bill

Animal Cruelty Laws helping cats Tattooed_cat

Photo Credit: Micke S. via Flickr

Recently, the state of New York passed an animal cruelty law that prohibits the tattooing or piercing of companion animals. The only exceptions are those tattoos given for identification or indicating a medical procedure had been performed. Violators of the law can expect fines and/or time behind bars. Similar legislation has been considered in other states, but New York is the only to pass it so far.

Yes, people really have been tattooing and piercing their pets. Tattoo artists do their work with the pet under anesthesia. One dog owner had their dog tattooed while it was still under anesthesia from an operation to remove it’s spleen.

In Pennsylvania, a pet groomer named Holly Crawford decided that she was going into business selling “gothic kittens.” She took all black kittens, pierced their ears, the back of their neck and the base of their tail. All of these piercings were done with a 14 gauge needle and large barbell style jewelry were placed in them. One of the cats had a rubber band tied around it’s tail as she intended to dock it. She received 6 months of electric home monitoring.

Animal Cruelty Law #3: The Big Cat Selfie Bill

Animal Cruelty Laws helping cats Woman with Tiger cub

Photo Credit: Andrew Hyde Via Flickr

The law known as the “Big Cat Selfie Bill” aims to cut down the number of people mauled by big cats and the number of big cats who are exploited for profit. It prohibits customers to have direct contact with big cats and other dangerous animals (like bears). Fines for breaking the law begin at $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for each offense after that. Versions of this bill have been passed in New York, Mississippi, Arizona, and Kansas.

Big cats are a subject of fascination for many people. How could they not be? They are beautiful, mysterious, and wild. It is a natural draw to want to touch one or have one in your life. However, humans and big cats don’t tend to mix well in close proximity. According to Big Cat Rescue, since 1990 there have been 23 human deaths as a result of encounters with captive exotic cats and 253 maulings.

The other side of the issue is that big cats are often exploited. People will do anything to make a few bucks – including play on your fantasy of being close to a big cat. For safety reasons, U.S. law only permits businesses to allow customers to interact with their big cats when they are between 8 and 12 weeks of age. Before 8 weeks, the big cats have not had all of their vaccinations and after 12 weeks of age they become dangerous large and unruly. This means that cubs are pull away from their mother far too young (even domestic cats are not supposed to be taken from their mother until they are 12 – 16 weeks old)  to be “socialized” and then once their 4 weeks of glory is over, they are no longer useful to the customer service part of the business.

If the business that uses the big cat plans to be open for more than 4 weeks, it needs more cubs. They breed their big cats to fill their need. The big cats that are too old to be used in photos and petting sessions are moved off to storage (it is legal to keep them in a cage the size of a parking spot at the mall), sold into illegal pet trade, sold for their coat, sold for their meat, or let loose. The lucky ones end up in compassionate big cat sanctuaries.

What animal cruelty laws would you like to see come about?