In 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) changed its classification for animal cruelty. It took another two years before empirical data was available. This act changed how the FBI tracked and categorized animal abuse. The FBI now considers animal abuse a crime against society. However, now there is a new bill that would impose much harsher penalties for animal cruelty.
How the Law is Making an Attempt to Come Full-Circle
The allotted change places these particular crimes in the spotlight and empowers the FBI to conduct a more vigorous pursuit of those involved.
According to the FBI, this is the new definition of animal cruelty.
“Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of duty to provide care, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured, transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or injure an animal. This definition does not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport; use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping.”
Should They do More or is This a Step in the Right Direction?
This actually started more than 10 years ago, when Mary Lou Randour, a psychologist, switched careers to devote herself full-time to animal rights advocacy.
She lobbied tirelessly to get the FBI to elevate animal cruelty to a crime with its own category.
The four categories of the distinction between severity of the offense are as follows. The first category is simple or gross neglect. The second category is intentional abuse and torture. The Third category is organized abuse (dogfighting and cockfighting). The final category is animal sexual abuse.
Is this a Battle Won and a War Lost?
Breed-specific legislation has always focused on the animal. The premise for every argument is based on the dog being some crazed and deadly creature that is and I quote, “A powder keg on four legs.” This was the definition one judge used to describe Pit Bulls.
The other key element in the defense of the continued implementation of breed-specific legislation is the belief that dogfighting is now an epidemic in America. BSL is taunted as an effective weapon against dogfighting and an instrument that is critical to public safety.
So far, there are very few who would support these two elements as being true and fewer yet with substantiated proof to back up their claim.
Where Does This Leave Current BSL Being Implemented Across the Nation?
The consensus is that BSL does not make neighborhoods safer and it certainly has not stopped dogfighting. Those who partake in such heinous and despicable acts will simply switch to a none banned breed to continue their dogfighting rings.
However, these new implementations being afforded by the FBI seems to be targeting the right aspects of the problem. Professionals in the field of animal behavior agree that the dogs are not the problem but rather their owners.
More specifically, they state that the owners play a larger part and the dogs environment plus individual characteristics make up the rest.
Is there a Chance for Collaboration Between Current BSL and the FBI?
The Pit Bull breed is known for its intelligence and if a human were to be abused or tortured, wouldn’t they act out as well? It is clear that many of these magnificent animals are abused and tortured.
The exploitation of the Pit Bull is by far at the top of the list. They are a target, because of their strength and agility. This, coupled with tenacity and a fierce loyalty, makes them the perfect candidate for those who would exploit them for profit and crime.
“These are creatures that suffer and we know their capacity to suffer,” said Randour, now the senior adviser for animal cruelty programs and training at the nonprofit Animal Welfare Institute. “In most societies, it’s recognized that creatures that are dependent on others, whether the elderly or children or animals, need to be protected.”
Will These New Elevated Tracking Parameters Finally Put Faces to the Abuse?
Dr. Randour is correct in that these animals need our protection. Many Pit Bulls suffer abuse and when they lash out, they are killed and demonized.
I once made a suggestion to change breed-specific legislation to ban-specific legislation. I feel that there should be an emphasis on irresponsible owners rather than the dogs who possibly suffer abuse.
My belief is that the FBI is on the right path to making this a reality. By properly tracking these crimes, they will have tangible data that will put real numbers to the degree of widespread abuse.
A Step in the Proverbial Right Direction
This will also enable city, county, and state level enforcement to target the right elements in these crimes.
I also suspect that Pit Bulls and responsible Pit Bull owners will reap the most benefit from these necessary changes.
The continued collection of these statistics and the increased ability to enforce the laws surrounding animal abuse will exponentially increase awareness. Hopefully, one day the general public will no longer see Pit Bulls as a menace.
Here is an Example of Why We Need Laws Such as This
I am sure almost everyone in America has heard of the opioid addiction epidemic.
However, this type of prescription drug abuse is now affecting our dogs.
It may be hard to believe, but there are cases of actual dog owners who injure their pets intentionally. After doing so, they take dogs to the veterinarian and get prescription pain medication. Upon doing so, they would use the medication themselves and let the dog suffer.
If Used Properly, These Changes Can Bring About the End of BSL as We Know it
Responsible Pit Bull owners should have a legitimate reason to rejoice. The elevation of the charges of animal cruelty can make a positive difference in the way the public sees Pit Bulls.
It can also help animal behaviorists study the true causes of some of these seemingly spontaneous attacks. This data will also shine a spotlight on some of the misconceptions about Pit Bulls and their perceived aggression tendencies.
The possibilities are vast and the good these changes can make is astronomical but only if used properly.