What is animal cruelty?

What is animal cruelty?

Animal cruelty can take many different forms. It includes overt and intentional acts of violence towards animals, but it also includes animal neglect or the failure to provide for the welfare of an animal under one’s control. In addition to this, it is important to remember animal cruelty is not restricted to cases involving physical harm. Causing animals psychological harm in the form of distress, torment or terror may also constitute animal cruelty.

As a result of there being so many possible forms of animal cruelty, state and territory animal welfare legislation does not attempt to define it in an exclusive way; rather, animal cruelty is described generally as any act or ommission that causes unnecessary or unreasonable harm to an animal. Most animal welfare Acts will provide particular examples of cruelty. These may include:

  • torturing or beating an animal;

  • confining or transporting an animal in a way that is inappropriate for its welfare;

  • killing an animal in an inhumane manner;

  • failing to provide appropriate or adequate food or water for an animal;

  • failing to provide appropriate treatment for disease or injury; and

  • failing to provide appropriate living conditions.

State and territory animal welfare legislation prohibits all forms of animal cruelty and imposes obligations on all animal owners to provide for the welfare needs of their animals. Breaching animal welfare legislation is a crime. Serious cases can result in large fines and imprisonment.

You can see what the penalties are for animal cruelty in each state and territory on the Knowledgebase: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-are-the-penalties-for-animal-cruelty-offences_271.html

You can find a link to your state or territory’s animal welfare legislation on the Knowledgebase: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-is-the-Australian-legislation-governing-animal-welfare_264.html

If you believe you have witnessed a case of animal cruelty, please report it immediately to your local RSPCA Inspectorate: