Ranked by Rate of Prosecution – These are the crimes against animals that are the most often prosecuted in the United States
Animal neglect refers to when an animal’s caretaker fails to provide basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. Animal neglect takes place over longer periods of time than other more violent acts. But victims of animal neglect suffer severely because their suffering is prolonged. Neglect can end in death or permanent damage. Nationally, animal control officers cite animal neglect as the most common reason that they are called to a home.
Affirmative Acts of Abuse
Affirmative acts of abuse are intentional actions meant to injure or kill an animal. Horrific, violent acts against animals, like dragging them behind a car or skinning them, fall under this category. These crimes often get media attention because they are so upsetting. Affirmative acts of abuse cover any violent act that can be committed against an animal. Situations where a domestic abuser acts violently towards animals as a way of controlling their human victim also fall under the affirmative acts of abuse category.
Animal fighting refers to when animals are forced to fight in order to entertain people. In the United States, dogfighting and cockfighting are the most popular kinds of animal fighting. When animals are trained to fight, “bait” animals are frequently used to induce savagery in the fighting animal, and are often mauled or killed in the process. Bait animals are usually sweet-natured and defenseless, like kittens. When animal fighting is uncovered, it is rarely the only crime occurring. People engaged in animal fighting are often also guilty of gambling, conspiracy, and money laundering.
Abandonment is when an animal is left behind by his guardian. It refers to when a family pet, accustomed to being fed and sheltered, is either dumped somewhere far from her home or her family moves and leaves without her. When home foreclosures rise, animal abandonment rates also increase significantly. Abandonment does not include people who engage in Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). In TNR, self-sufficient, unowned cats are trapped by caring individuals, taken to a veterinarian to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated against rabies, and then returned to the trapping location.
Bestiality refers to any sexual crime against an animal and may also be accompanied by affirmative acts of abuse. Though the vast majority of people find bestiality abhorrent, it is more common than you might think. There are even online groups for people who engage in bestiality and sometimes organized events. Unfortunately, bestiality is not illegal in all 50 states, although prosecutors can still sometimes prosecute bestiality as an affirmative act of abuse.