In recent years, animal cruelty has stirred into the limelight as society has given the issue further consideration. State and federal laws as well as the establishment of diverse non-governmental organizations exist to abate animal cruelty, but such institutions have lagged in creating effective control mechanisms in spite of the growth of this modern day pandemic. This thesis will discuss animal cruelty, the types of cruelty, legislative developments, correlation of animal cruelty to violence among humans, and ways to strengthen control mechanisms. Credible findings have indicated a propensity for offenders of animal cruelty to escalate their acts of violence towards a human. Although animal cruelty has made a modest impression on society, a significant segment of our population nevertheless shares the belief that animals are property lacking a holistic set of basic rights, which in turn perpetuates egregious forms of abuse towards animals. Said abuses will be thoroughly reviewed in this thesis with the intent of bringing a collective consciousness to the reader of the extensive types of abuses animals are subjugated to by some of the most heinous offenders. Then, a discussion will proceed of the hoisting impact animal cruelty has in galvanizing violence towards humans. By meticulously analyzing a variety of empirical research showing the overarching effects of animal cruelty as well as by analyzing state and federal laws that have been hindered tepid enforcement control mechanisms over the years, this thesis will argue for an overhaul of enforcement mechanisms so as to cause broader circumvention of animal cruelty. While research shows that there has been a growth in awareness by another significant segment of the population as to gravity of the situation dealing with the mistreatment of animals in our society, there still remains insufficient societal awareness and governmental power to abundantly curtail this imminent problem. Only when society is enlightened with the dangers of animal cruelty and how it can have dire undulating effects within the community, will substantial advancements be made to give animals the wide spectrum of rights they deserve. After conveying the societal necessity for change in constructively protecting animals, a discussion will ensue on the inadequacy of animal laws today. Then, a discussion will proceed on ways to strengthen animal rights in a manner that is reflective of the general cultural norms and values in this modern age. It is the intent of this thesis to affect change and begin a constructive discourse in society of how to mend the preceding errors of prior generations when dealing with animal abuse. While for a significant segment of the population the merit of such argumentation may rest solely in the notion that animals deserve certain basic rights, this thesis widens the purview of consciousness with the empirically-proven affirmation that animal violence can potentially lead to attacks against humans by people who progressively engage in anti-social acts. Thus, the nexus between admonishable violent acts and sanctionable criminal acts is intrinsically intertwined in the notion that animal abuse is a potential precursor to human abuse. In this light, even that segment of the population apathetic towards the plight of animals may not refute the importance of impugning any and all admonishable violent acts against animals into the realm of punitive criminal sanctions orchestrated by a governmental body empowered with seeking the common good--for to otherwise refute animal rights through this newly-endowed lens would be to refute human rights as well.


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Thesis Completion





Pons, Irene


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Legal Studies


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs; Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

Included in

Legal Studies Commons