28 June 2010

People and animal cruelty

Every now and then cases of animal cruelty are reported in the news. What sort of person can do this to an innocent animal?


Every now and then cases of animal cruelty are reported in the news. Whether the cruelty is deliberate or through negligence, innocent animals are at the receiving end. Why do people do this?

"People who are deliberately cruel to animals often have psychopathic tendencies," says Shaun Bodington, Chief Inspector of the SPCA in Retreat Cape Town. "People who are unbalanced and frustrated with society take out their anger on defenceless creatures, as there are less likely to be repercussions, than if they were to revenge themselves on society by attacking people."

Cape Town psychologist Ilse Pauw, confirmed this. "People who feel inadequate in themselves often take out their frustrations on those people or creatures they regard as inferior to themselves. What attracts these people is the very powerlessness of their victims, as there are not likely to be comebacks."

Cycle of abuse
"There is a tendency to tread downwards – the so-called cycle of abuse. This is very prevalent in our society, where there are great social inequalities and often also scant respect for the rights of women, children and animals."

"Abuse of animals often has a socio-economic link," says Bodington. "Where there is abuse of animals, there is often also abuse of children, women and the elderly. When fragmentation of families takes place, animals often become the targets of anger, abuse or neglect."

Three different types of cruelty
"Cruelty to animals by children takes on three different forms.

"Firstly, children who are cruel to animals as a result of ignorance or a lack of education or guidance.

"Secondly, where, as a result of societal norms or insensitivity, animals are maltreated in a particular area. If all dogs in a neighbourhood have mange, people will not necessarily recognise it as a problem that needs rectifying. If chained dogs are the norm, children will not see this as cruel.

"The third type of abuse is a lot more sinister, as it is deliberate and often carefully planned. People who do this sort of thing will more than likely be mentally deranged," according to Bodington. He adds that even these people realise on some level that what they are doing is wrong.

"The attention-seeking behaviour that motivates someone to be very cruel to animals points to serious personality disorders," says Pauw. - (Health24, May 2006)

- Last updated: June 2010


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