Animal cruelty statistics make for harrowing reading. If you have a sensitive disposition, then discretion is advised. While there will be no graphic images below, the matter of animal abuse statistics is upsetting.
Abuse happens in many ways. Something mild, seemingly innocent, or even well-intended, can still constitute animal abuse. Animals are majestic creatures, and each breed has a detailed set of care requirements.
The true extent of animal cruelty is rarely discussed, with less than 0.01% of abuse cases given media attention.
Animal Cruelty Facts
Animal cruelty facts and statistics show that animal abuse cases are rising. For example, in the UK, the rate of abuse in dogs has risen by 16% since the start of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s important to understand that animal cruelty extends beyond domestic animals and covers everything from wild animals and farm animals to circus animals and laboratory animals.
Did you know that dogs are the most abused animals?
Farm animals are among some of the least protected animals regarding animal cruelty. Pigs and chickens, in particular, are forced to live in horrible conditions and are effectively held captive for their meat.
Animal Abuse Statistics
Below are fifty animal abuse statistics that put the true extent of animal cruelty into perspective and humanity to shame.
1. Among All Violent Crimes, Animal Abuse Accounts for Around 28 Percent
Animal abuse accounts for almost a third of all violent crimes in the United States. Violent crime is a term used to encompass murder, rape, robbery, and assault.
Things might change if animal cruelty laws were enforced to the same level as for violent crime among humans.
2. Animal Cruelty Complaints Have Increased by 55% over the past Ten Years
(The National Audubon Society)
The alarming rise in animal cruelty complaints can be attributed to two things—increased levels of animal abuse and increased awareness of animal cruelty and an interest in helping. The genuinely worrying part of this statistic is that much animal cruelty still goes unreported.
3. One Animal Suffers Abuse Every Minute
One animal suffering abuse every minute of the day puts the extent of animal cruelty into stark perspective. Sadly the law often fails to protect animals suffering abuse, as much goes under the radar.
When you witness animal cruelty, taking action and reporting it is the only way to fight against pet abuse.
4. Asia Has the Highest Rate of Animal Cruelty
The Asian subcontinent has a storied history of animal abuse, from the ten million cats and dogs killed annually for meat to bile-farming bears. Animal cruelty laws in Asia are lacking compared to other parts of the world.
Additionally, poverty across Asia also impacts animal cruelty statistics, as many people don’t have the money to care for their animals adequately.
5. More than 6.5 Million Animals Enter Animal Shelters Yearly
Approximately 4.1 million animals are adopted from shelters annually. However, with 6.5 million entering the shelter system every year, the numbers mean that shelters are becoming more overcrowded.
This is partly why close to one million shelter animals are euthanized every year.
6. 50 Million Animal Deaths Due to Animal Torture since 1990
Animal torture is a horrendous thought. Mental abuse and physical abuse amount to torture. There are countless animals killed senselessly every year, some for their fur, others for their meat, and many for no reason other than the entertainment of those doing the killing.
Anti-cruelty laws must be tougher and more strictly enforced to prevent animal cruelty.
7. Extinction of More than 200 Species of Animals since the 1700s Due to Animal Abuse
Animal extinction is heartbreaking; no single example of an animal exists on earth. To think animal cruelty has cost more than 200 species, yet people don’t seem to fathom the gravity of the situation.
The willful destruction of an animal’s habitat also counts as animal cruelty, something more animal cruelty laws need to consider.
8. 1,065 Cases Involving Animal Cruelty Were Reported in 2020 Alone
(Wildlife Conservation Society)
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic increase in animal abuse cases. While it’s horrendous to think there were 1065 reported pet abuse cases in 2020, the actual numbers are far more significant.
Over 10 million abused animals die every year in the US. Unfortunately, that means less than 0.01% of animal and pet abuse cases get reported.
9. In 2021, Almost 600 Animal Cruelty Cases Were Reported Within the First Two Months
(Wildlife Conservation Society)
The Covid-19 pandemic is to blame for a significant rise in the number of reported abuse cases. The number of abused animals rose with everybody in their homes and tensions rising.
Whether this is because more people bore witness to animal abuse or because more people were abusing animals is irrelevant. Animal cruelty cases are rising, and change is needed to keep animals safe.
10. Almost 1 Million Cats and Dogs Are Euthanized Each Year
With approximately 6.3 million animals being taken into shelters each year and only 4.1 million being adopted, there is a large overflow that is congesting the shelter system.
As a result, approximately 1 million cats and dogs alone are euthanized each year simply because they cannot find a home.
11. Dogs Make up 65% of All Abused Animals
A dog is a man’s best friend. Yet animal abuse statistics reveal that dogs are the most abused animals globally. Everybody wants a puppy, but not everybody is ready to put in the work of training a puppy.
From greyhound racing to factory farms, dogs are subject to unending intentional cruelty. The only way to stop animal neglect cases from rising is to get harsher with the punishments.
12. 1 in 3 Owners Abuse Their Pet in Some Way
(Jane Goodall Institute)
Not all animal abuse is physical or active. Passive cruelty is a huge part of the problem. A third of pet owners abuse their animals in some way.
Whether it is not providing the right exercise and nutrition or extensive physical and mental torment, animal abuse is an epidemic.
13. 71% of People Involved in Domestic Violence Abuse Their Pets
There is a strong link between animal abuse and domestic violence. Domestic violence survivors have reported remaining with their abuser until they knew they could take their abused animal.
Animal abuse in domestic violence cases can be in the form of ongoing abuse against both parties or retaliatory abuse. Animal cruelty laws need to change, but animal abuse must be considered across a broader spectrum.
14. 88% of the Families Reported for Child Abuse Also Responsible for Animal Cruelty
Family pets form an integral part of the modern family home. Yet animal cruelty statistics reinforce the link between physical abuse in the home and animal abuse.
A study by DeViney, Dickert, & Lockwood found that 88% of households responsible for child neglect and abuse were also perpetrators of animal abuse.
15. Animal Abuse by Sexually Abused Children Is Five times More Likely
A study found that children who live in violent homes are three times more likely to abuse animals. Child sexual abuse victims are five times more likely to abuse and kill animals.
The victims of child abuse are left with scars and emotions they cannot process or contain. Anger overflows, and in an effort to regain some degree of control, they lash out at animals.
16. Men under 30 Are Most Likely to Abuse Animals
(The Humane Society)
Whether it’s due to the culture of toxic masculinity and young men needing to ‘prove’ themselves or not, animal abuse is more prevalent in men under the age of 30.
Incidentally, domestic abuse statistics also show that those under 30 are most likely to be reported for domestic violence. However, it is women over 60 who are most often reported for animal abuse through hoarding.
17. More than 115 Million Animals Are Used for Laboratory Experiments Every Year Worldwide
Animal testing is a cruel and vicious process that sees animals abused in the name of human medical research and education. Each year 115 million animals, including dogs, cats, mice, rats, and monkeys, are all abused in the name of science. Yet, 95% of drugs that pass animal testing are never approved for human use.
Anti-cruelty laws exist to put an end to this sort of suffering. Unfortunately, lab experiments result in horrific injuries to cure medical issues that could be done more humanely.
18. More than 10 Million Animals Die from Abuse in the US Alone
The United States is ranked 31 in the world for the toughest animal cruelty laws. Yet 10 million animals die from abuse every year in the US. 60% are dogs, and 18% are cats.
Furthermore, studies have revealed that 45% of those deaths come from neglect, while 10% are a result of stabbing or mutilation.
19. Over 1.4 Million Mink Killed for Fur in the US
Israel is the only country in the world to have issued a complete ban on the sale of mink fur. In 2021 animal abuse statistics state that approximately 1.4 million mink were farmed and killed for their fur. This number is a drop of 49% from a 2014 peak.
Not only is mink harvested for its fur, but its body is used to make oils and cosmetics. The tail is even used to make expensive eyelash extensions.
20. Over 10,000 Puppy Mills Work in the United States
(The Humane Society)
Puppy mills are factory farms that see dogs abused and denied the essential qualities of life in the name of breeding and profit.
It is believed that over 10,000 puppy mills exist in the United States, with Missouri being the leading state for puppy-farmed dogs.
21. 126 Big Cats Killed in US Circuses since 1990
Not only have 126 big cats died as a result of circus captivity, but 250 humans have been badly injured, and 23 have lost their lives.
Circus animals are abused to keep them trained and entertaining for the public. Big cats are majestic animals that are not meant to be held in small cages and forced to perform for human entertainment.
22. 49 States Have Penalty Laws for Animal Torture
With the exception of Iowa, the remaining 49 US states have felony-based punishments for first-time animal torture and abuse offenses.
The recognition of animal torture as a serious crime has led to a swell of change in the US. Prior to 1986, only four states regarded animal abuse as a felony conviction.
23. Animal Slaughterhouses Kill over 10 Billion Land Animals per Year in the US
Meat is big business. Animal abuse statistics show that in 2020 over 10 billion land animals were sent to slaughter for food. Over 9 billion of those animals were broiler chickens.
The numbers for 2020 show a slight increase year on year and do not include fish or non-livestock or poultry-related slaughters.
24. Over the Last Decade, Illegal Races Resulted in 483 Drug-positive Greyhounds in Florida Alone
(The Humane Society)
Greyhound racing is a huge business, and the owners will do whatever it takes to win. The research found that over the past decade, 483 greyhounds returned positive drug tests. Included in that were 73 greyhounds that tested positive for cocaine.
Additionally, research in Florida found that over 50% of female greyhounds are given anabolic steroids to help their racing performance.
25. Globally More than 5 Million Horses Are Killed and Processed for Human Consumption
While the United States shuttered its horse slaughterhouses in 2007, there are still 77 countries that slaughter horses for their meat.
In 2018, more than 1.75 billion lbs of horse meat was processed for consumption across the world. This equates to over 5 million horses.
26. Animal Hoarding Results in 250,000 Animals Being Killed Every Year
Animal hoarding is when people accumulate more pets than they can realistically care for. Women are more commonly accused of animal hoarding, with 72% of hoarders being female, and cats are the most commonly hoarded animal.
The results of animal hoarding result in a quarter of a million animals dying per year. In fact, animal hoarding is the most common cause of animal cruelty in the US.
27. Due to the Traditional Medicine Industry, 5,000 to 6,000 Tigers Currently Live in Captivity in China
In Chinese medicine, tiger parts are used to treat all manner of ailments. There are less than 4,000 wild tigers remaining on the globe. Yet almost 6,000 are farmed in China.
Big cat farming sees these graceful big cats kept in cramped conditions only to have their body parts and organs harvested for use in traditional medicine.
28. Because of the Exotic Bird Trade, 1/3 of Parrot Species Are on the Verge of Being Extinct
Parrots and other exotic birds are the largest representation of captive wild animals. The desire to have wild birds as pets has seen as many as a third of all parrot species driven close to extinction.
While the US created the Wild Bird Conservation Act in 1992, it has not fully halted the exotic bird trade.
29. 97% of All Abused and Killed Animals Are Farm Animals
Farm animal abuse statistics tell a sad story. There are no active federal animal welfare laws in the United States. As a result,97% of animal torture is directly linked to farm animals.
Animals are kept in cramped conditions and fed, drugged, and maintained simply to get the most eggs, meat, or milk. It’s also important to consider the impact on the animals’ mental health as much as their physical.
30. Almost 99% of Pigs Are Subjected to Factory Farming
A 2017 study of the USDA Census of Agriculture data showed that 98.3% of all pigs bred for human consumption were raised on factory farms. Even worse is that 99.9% of chickens raised for us were factory-farmed animals.
Factory farming is a form of animal neglect that keeps animals such as pigs in cramped conditions to keep running costs low and profits high.
31. Around 50% of All Consumed Fish Are Raised in Artificial Environments
Not only is fish the most commonly farmed meat in the world, but sustaining the farmed fish means further depletion of wild fish populations.
While over half of all fish are raised in an artificial, farmed environment, many of these fish are carnivorous and fed other wild fish. As a result, many other fish species are experiencing dwindling levels in the wild.
32. Cows’ Lifespan Reduced from Around 25 Years to Almost Five Years
(The Humane League)
Dairy cows have a natural life span of around 25 years; however, after five years, most dairy cows are sent to slaughter as this age often impedes their milk production.
Excessive milking is another form of animal abuse, as it speeds up nature by reducing a cow’s lifespan by up to 80%.
Much like humans, cows only produce milk after giving birth. Dairy cows are artificially inseminated solely for their milk. Once their supply dries, the process starts again, playing havoc with their bodies.
33. Most Sloths Used for Entertainment and Tourism Die Within Six Months of Their Capture
(World Animal Protection)
Sloths are quiet animals. They enjoy a peaceful life, and when taken from their natural habitat and surrounded by tourists, and made to pose for countless photo opportunities, the stress can negatively impact their health, resulting in their deaths.
34. 35,000 Elephants Are Poached for Ivory Every Year
Not only are 35,000 elephants being killed every year, but the reality is that more elephants are being poached than are born each year.
Poaching elephants has reached such a level that even should it remain the same, the elephants could be extinct within 100 years.
35. To Make Shark Fin Soup, Approximately 75 Million Sharks Are Illegally Killed
Shark fin soup has become a delicacy that often sells for more than $100 a bowl. As a result, upwards of 75 million sharks are killed each year for the fins. The laws and regulations protecting sharks vary from country to country.
Not only does this rate of fishing pose a serious threat to many species, but it is also barbaric. Sharks are caught, and thrown back into the water alive, without their fins.
36. Approximately 75% of Lizards and Reptiles Kept as Pets Die Due to the Loss of Natural Habitat
Taking an animal out of their natural home and placing them into captivity deprives them of many things they need to survive. Many reptiles and tortoises can live for anywhere between 10 and 100 plus years.
Yet the stress of being placed into captivity sees three-quarters of exotic pets die within the first year of being bought.
37. Around 75% of Zoos and Aquariums Don’t Follow Treatment Rules
Zoos and aquariums are the classic places where adults and children go to gaze at animals they would otherwise never be able to see. Sadly, most zoos and aquariums do not follow the correct guidelines.
In a study of 1,241 venues, over 75% of them were found to be breaking human-animal interaction regulations and advisories that had been given to them. These include animal shows and petting experiences.
38. Circus Animals Spend the Majority of Their Lives in Confinement
Circuses travel from place to place, setting up shop in one town or city after another. When the circus animals are not performing or being trained, they are confined to cages.
Many circus animals are kept in horrendous conditions, and many exhibit physical and psychological health problems as a result. That does not even touch the way animals are tortured to perform for the paying public.
39. Dogfighting and Cockfighting Kill Many Animals Each Month
(The Humane Society)
Dog and cockfighting is a felony in all fifty states. However, events still exist and result in the senseless deaths of dogs and chickens every month.
Pit bulls are the dogs most commonly killed due to dog fighting.
40. Fishing Gear Results in 650,000 Marine Mammals Being Killed Every Year
Commercial fishing gear not only catches the fish it’s designed for, but approximately 650,000 unsuspecting whales, dolphins, and marine wildlife get caught in what is termed a ‘bycatch.’
Often these animals drown as a result of being trapped. Others are ripped free when the nets are brought in and thrown back into the ocean, injured and dying.
41. 85% of Catastrophic Racehorse Injuries Are a Result of Being Overworked
(Horse Racing Sense)
The impact of horseracing on a horse’s health and well-being is often overlooked. The constant wear and tear often leads to the development of Plantar Osteochondral Disease.
Many racehorses are not given sufficient time to rest between races. As a result, 85% of catastrophic injuries are a direct result of being overworked.
42. Every Year, Thousands of Endangered Species Are Killed for Their Body Parts Illegally Traded in Illegal Markets
Poaching of endangered animals sees their body parts and organs illegally traded on the black market. Protection orders are in place to keep these animals safe, and harsh penalties exist for those caught engaging in the act of poaching.
Yet despite this, poaching continues to rise. Studies showed that between 2007 and 2013, Rhino poaching in South Africa increased by 7,700%
43. More than 12,000 Species Are Being Trafficked Globally in the Wildlife Trade
A 2018 report by the IFAW reported that 12,000 protected wildlife specimens were available for sale across 5000 different advertisements. These were spread over more than 100 different marketplaces, including social media.
These numbers were reported over just a 6 week period! As of March 2020, a wildlife coalition has removed and blocked more than 3 million listings for threatened or endangered species.
44. More than 70 Billion Land Animals Are Slaughtered for Food Every Year
Chickens are the most slaughtered animals, according to statistics, accounting for approximately 65 billion animal deaths annually. There has been a strong upward trend in the number of animals sent to slaughter each year since the 1960s.
To put that number into perspective, there are close to two hundred million animals slaughtered every day for food.
45. Since Being Considered a Mental Disorder in 1999, Animal Hoarding Has Increased
Hoarding is most common in women over the age of 60. Statistics revealed that 83% of reviewed animal hoarding cases involved women. Of that, 71% were widowed, divorced, or single.
46. Over 1 Billion Animals Are Killed for Their Skins Yearly
The leather market is valued at almost $500 billion and sees over 1 billion animals killed per year for their skin. Animals killed for their skin include cattle and calves, snakes, bison, alligators, crocodiles, elephants, kangaroos, lizards, and zebras.
China produces 80% of the world’s leather and is also a country where animal abuse and protection laws are less common and rarely enforced.
47. Reported Animal Cruelty Cases Tripled Between 2016 to 2017
A report on animal abuse statistics from the National Incident-Based Reporting System revealed that the number of animal cruelty cases reported tripled between 2016 and 2017. The survey accounted for approximately 30% of the US population.
In 2016, 1 in 90,000 people were reported for a total of 1,100 cases. In 2017 this rose to 1 in 33,000 people or 3,200 cases.
48. 80% of Dog Cruelty Cases Were Reported in 2019
Increased awareness of animal welfare and a concerted effort to address the problem have led to an increased number of cruelty cases being reported. While the number of animals suffering abuse is high, many of these cases would have gone unreported in prior years.
49. 600,000 Cat Abuse Cases Were Reported in 2018
(National Wildlife Federation)
Thirty-two million homes across the US have a cat. The high number of reported cases indicates the true depth of the animal abuse problem, as many acts of domestic abuse against animals go unreported.
50. Over 2,000 Chimpanzees Currently Remain in Captivity in the US
Chimpanzees are family animals and need to live in groups of 15 – 150. There are only around 200.000 chimpanzees left in the wild. Yet over 2,000 remain in captivity in the US alone. Of that number, 300 are in zoos, and around 1,700 are used for medical research.
How Can Animal Abuse Be Stopped?
Animal abuse can be stopped by better educating people on correct animal care. However, the extent of animal abuse is so large the only way to tackle it effectively is through a multi-faceted approach. Below are the core ways animal abuse can be stopped.
- Criminalize animal abuse
- Crackdown on the exotic pet trade
- Better education for people on animal care.
- Crackdown on animal testing
- Better monitoring of animals housed in commercial settings
Organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) act are actively working to tackle animal cruelty. The HSUS is an organization looking to stop the following animal abuse across the full spectrum of animal cruelty.
- Cosmetic animal testing
- Fur trade
- Poor conditions for farm animals
- Puppy mills
The PAWS act aims to help victims of domestic violence by offering more safe accommodations for victims with pets that also need shelter. There is a strong link between animal cruelty and domestic violence. The PAWS act works to stop animal cruelty by giving domestic violence victims a feasible option for escape.
Worldwide there are countless animal charities and non-profit organizations dedicated to animal welfare.
The true extent of animal abuse is so extensive and twisted through so many levels of society that it will take a massive and concerted effort from individuals as well as corporations to put an end to it.
Speak up when you see animal abuse happening. Report serious abuse and volunteer to help at a shelter. Make a donation to one of the different animal welfare societies. Even the smallest action can make a big change when everybody does something.
Below are five frequently asked questions about animal abuse.
Can You Go to Jail for Animal Abuse?
Yes, you can go to jail for animal abuse. Animal cruelty is a serious offense around the world. For example, an animal cruelty conviction in the UK is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. In the United States, animal cruelty laws are active in 49 states and are punishable by up to seven years in prison.
What Is the Punishment for Animal Abuse?
The punishment for animal abuse varies depending on the severity of the abuse and the charges brought. The penalty for animal abuse starts with animal removal and pet ownership bans and moves through hefty fines and, eventually, prison sentences.
Why Do People Abuse Animals?
People abuse animals for all manner of reasons. Sometimes people abuse animals out of malice. They want to feel strong, and picking on a helpless animal gives them that feeling. People who abuse animals for the fun of it are the worst kind of abusers and are punished more severely for their crimes.
Other people abuse animals through a misunderstanding of what an animal needs to be cared for. Sometimes animal owners don’t even realize what they are doing is considered abuse.
Educating people on what it really means to be a pet owner is essential to minimize animal cruelty.
Is Killing Animals a Crime?
Yes, killing animals is a crime under certain conditions. Often, killing an animal is considered an offense, which does not break the law per se but still warrants punishment.
Killing animals is categorized in different ways; hunting, poaching, and killing for food. Different cultures and different circumstances carry different definitions. However, killing animals with malice is a punishable offense.
The legalities of animal abuse are often combined with other issues to bring a legal case.
How Many Animals Are Abused per Year?
More than 10 million animals are abused annually in the United States alone. Unfortunately, animal abuse remains a hushed topic, with little more than 0.01% of animal abuse cases reported in the media.
Additionally, it’s important to consider that 110 million animals die in US Laboratories annually.
Animal abuse statistics make for a hard reading. However, they are the cold truth that needs to be seen and understood. Animals are entitled to live their lives free, just like anybody else. The issue will only worsen if more efforts are not directed toward maintaining animal welfare.
While many national and international laws protect animals in various ways, there is a large onus on individuals to keep their eyes open and report animal abuse when they suspect it.