Facts, Statistics, and Stories About Animal and Pet Abuse
Facts About Animal Cruelty
Animal abuse occurs all throughout the world and across many demographics. Dogs, cats, horses, and livestock tend to be the most commonly abused animals of all and new abuse cases develop every day. Here are some alarming animal abuse facts and statistics. Also included in this article is the story of an abused pit bull named Lady whose story has inspired countless survivors of trauma.
Animal Abuse Statistics
- Neglect and abandonment are the most common forms of abuse towards domestic animals in the United States.
- According to ASPCA.org, 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats) each year; an estimated 2.6 million were euthanized in 2011.
- Of the reported cases of dog abuse, pit bulls make up the majority.
- Dogs can die within 15 minutes from heat stroke since they can only pant and sweat through their paws to cool off when it is very hot. Many dogs die every year due to being left in hot cars.
- The HumaneSociety.org reports that 71% of victims of domestic violence reported that their abuser also targeted their pets.
- Investigators of animal abuse cases often discover that domestic abuse is happening within the same household.
- When training a dog for dogfighting, the dog is often abused, starved, and tortured in order to trigger aggressiveness due to survival instincts.
- Dogs that lose in a dog fight are often burned, drowned, electrocuted, or beaten to death by their owners.
- Dog and cock-fighting are illegal in every state in the United States.
2018 Animal Abuse Statistics in the U.S.
Type of Abuse
% of Cases
Death by Neglect
Death by Poison or Fighting
Death by Physical Abuse
Death by Torture
Misc. (Hunting, Burns, etc.)
Lady the Pit Bull's Brave Story
Years ago on one Halloween night, an unknown suspect severely burned a one-year-old pit bull/shepherd mix named Lady. By the time the owner responded to her barks and screams, Lady was entirely engulfed in flames. Lady rolled around and put the fire out herself but was severely injured and in severe pain.
The care team later learned that Lady had been doused with gasoline and set on fire as part of a twisted Halloween prank. As one observer put it, "[W]hat happened to the good ol' days of egging and toilet papering someone's house[?]" Such an act is despicable and such a far cry from a prank.
Treating Severe Skin Burns in Dogs
A week after this horrific act, Lady's condition worsened and her owner surrendered her to the Humane Society (which I can only imagine was a heart-wrenching decision). This decision was most likely made due to financial limitations since Lady required advanced medical care. Her owner probably had to decide whether to put Lady down or give her a chance to be cared for by someone with the financial means to cover the expensive treatments.
Treating burns like Lady's is a time-consuming process that costs thousands of dollars. One main concern with severe burns is the development of secondary skin infections due to a compromised skin barrier. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), the team working with Lady was experienced in burn care and gave her the best chances for a successful recovery.
From the very beginning, the team was optimistic about Lady's outcome because they found healthy skin cells near the damaged areas. Yet, anytime a person or dog is burned that severely, complications can arise and the medical costs are high. But even after a few short weeks, Lady appeared to be doing well emotionally and would encourage the caretakers to rub her chin. She was very friendly and alert, and according to the veterinarians and vet techs, she was the sweetest, kindest patient they had ever cared for. Thankfully, Lady made a full recovery.
Lady Helps to Inspire Child Burn Victims
After Lady's recovery, she ended up finding a forever home with Gretchen Kohsmann, a fire investigator. Gretchen also directs a burn-victim camp in Lansing, which serves as a refuge for children who are victims of fire and suffered severe burns. Lady now lives with Gretchen, her two children, and two dogs in their home most of the year, except when the camp is running. The hope is that Lady will also attend the camp and serve as an inspiration to dozens of children and that they will feel a little less alone in her presence.
When Lady and her new owner left to their forever home, the fire department members who found Lady and the investigators who were a part of her rehabilitation were all there to say goodbye.
Report Animal Abuse and Protect Innocent Lives
My heart broke when I saw Lady in person, and I could not believe how anyone could be so cruel to an animal. I don't have words to express what I think of a person who could do such a hideous, cruel act! A person who could be that cruel to another living species very well may abuse or kill a person. Normal, mentally healthy people would never do something like this.
Animal abuse cases are numerous and they happen worldwide and across many demographics. It is our responsibility to end animal cruelty and protect the innocent lives of animals. Consider how you can get involved.
- U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook (American Veterinary Medical Association)
Did you know? In 2011, six-out-of-ten pet owners, or 63.2%, considered their pets to be family members.
- Pet Statistics | Shelter Intake and Surrender | ASPCA
How many pets are in the United States? How many animals are in shelters? Get the answers to these and other questions about pet statistics.
- Animal Cruelty Facts and Stats | The Humane Society of the United States
Facts, statistics and trends of animals abused in the U.S.
- Animal Abuse Statistics in the US 2018: Essential Facts
Everything you need to know about the current animal abuse situation: from the most important numbers to some facts you didn't know.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz