Animal Cruelty Facts, Statistics and Trends

Escrito por HSUS.

Animal cruelty is prevalent across the country in both rural and urban areas and cuts across socioeconomic boundaries.


Animal Cruelty Facts, Statistics and Trends


  ©The HSUS
  Dogs, and pit bulls in particular, are the most commonly reported victims of animal abuse.

Animal cruelty is prevalent across the country in both rural and urban areas and cuts across socioeconomic boundaries.

While a perusal of media reports reveals a shocking number of daily cruelty cases, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Even more cases—including those thatare never reported to law enforcement—never makemedia headlines.

On a daily basis, The HSUS, local animal shelters and local animal control deal with an onslaught ofanimal abuse casesranging from neglected and chained animalsto gruesome, violent attacks on animals.

Although a national reporting system for animal abuse cases does not yet exist, media reports of animal abuse cases suggest that animal abuse is prevalent across the United States. Based on media reports, we can review the issue of animal cruelty in terms of:

(Unless otherwise noted, the following statisticsare compiledfrom


In media-reported animal cruelty cases, dogs are the most common victims of animal cruelty. Pit bulls, in particular, constitute an increasing percentage of victimized animals.


  • Of 1,880 cruelty cases* reported in the media in 2007:
      • 64.5percent(1,212) involved dogs
      • 18 percent(337) involved cats
      • 25 percent(470) involved other animals

        *some cases involved multiple species
  • Pit bulls represent an increasing percentage of total canine animal cruelty cases.
      • In 2000 and 2001, pit bulls were the victims in 13 percentof reported dog abuse cases.
      • In 2007, pit bulls were the victims in 25 percent of reporteddog abuse cases.


    According to the American Horse Council, Americans own more than9 million horses, up from more than 6 million in the mid-1990s. Back yard breeding fueled the boom in demand for pet horses. More than2 million Americans own horses, and more thanone-third of those owners have a household income of less than $50,000.[1]

    • Neither the total number of horse neglect cases nor the percentage of total animal abuse cases classified as horse neglect has risen since the closure of all U.S. horse slaughter plants.
    • Of 1,880 cruelty cases reported in the media in 2007, only 7 percent(136) involved horse neglect,down from6 percent(146) in 2006 and 8 percent(155) in 2005.


    ©The HSUS  
    Neglect is the most common type of livestock abuse.  


    As HSUS investigations into slaughterhouses and cattle auctions have revealed, animal abuse is abound in the factory farm industry.

    Despite increased feed prices, we found no indication in the news media that the number of livestock neglect cases is increasing, other than a few shocking, high-profile cases. This may, however, simply be a reflection of the weak protections afforded to livestockunder state animal cruelty laws.

    Many states specifically exclude livestock or any "common" agricultural practices from their cruelty laws, and even when good laws exist, it can sometimes be difficult to convince law enforcement to make an arrest and/or to seize agricultural animals who are being neglected or abused.

  • Over the past few years, the number of reported animal neglect cases involving cows and pigs has dipped slightly.

  • In 2007, there were 20 reported neglect cases involving cows andeight involving pigs, down from 33 cow neglect cases and 11 pig neglect cases in 2006, and 26 cow neglect cases and nine pig neglect cases in 2005.


    An examination of government data measuring intimate partner violence and scholarly studies of the prevalence of animal cruelty in such cases reveals a staggering number of animals are victimized by abusive partners each year.

    • The HSUS estimates that nearly 1 million animals a year are abused or killed in connection with domestic violence:
    • Methodology:
      • About 2,168,000 women and men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States(U.S. Department of Justice, 2000).
      • Sixty-three percent of U.S. households own a pet (APPMA, 2006).
      • Seventy-one percent of domestic violence victims report that their abuser also targeted their animal (Ascione, 1997).
    • In 2007, 7percentof media-reported animal cruelty cases either occured in the context of a domestic dispute or involved a person with a history of domestic violence.



      Legislative trends are moving in favor of animal protection.
    • Forty-five states currently have felony provisions for animal cruelty. (Those without are Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota.)

    • Before 1986, only four states had felony animal cruelty laws.

    • Forty-one of the 45 state felony animal cruelty laws were enacted in the last two decades: 13 were enacted between 1986 and 1996, and 26 more were enacted between 1997 and 2007.

    • First vs. Second Offense

      • Forty of the 45 state felony provisions are first-offense provisions.
      • Three (Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania) are second offense felonies.
      • Two (Alaska and Nevada) are third-offense felonies.
      • Within the 45 first-offense felony states, several have a first-offense provisionfor aggravated cruelty, torture, companion animal cruelty, etc., in addition to a second offense provision for cruelty to animals.

    • States Finding Second-Offense Laws Inadequate

      • In the last decade,at least five states have enacted second-offense felony animal cruelty laws, only to readdress and upgrade them to first-offense lawswithin a few years:
        • Indiana (2nd 1998, 1st 2002)
        • Kentucky (2nd 2003, 1st 2007)
        • Nebraska (2nd 2002, 1st 2003)
        • Tennessee (2nd 2001 and 2002, 1st 2004)
        • Virginia (2nd 1999, 1st 2002)
    • Cruelty to Animals as a Separate Offense Category

      • The HSUS urges support for a bill before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that would require the National Incident Based Reporting System, the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, and the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange Program to list cruelty to animals as a separate offense category. Passage of this bill would provide more accurate tracking of animal cruelty statistics and trends.


     . "Leaner Pastures: As Horses Multiply, Neglect Cases Rise," Wall Street Journal, Jan. 7, 2008, p.1.


Related Links

Resources to Fight Cruelty to Animals