For animal lovers like myself, it’s obvious that animal cruelty must be stopped for the simple reason that it’s wrong: all sentient creatures deserve to be protected from pain and suffering. However this view is not always shared by the rest of society: we live in a human-centred culture. An important report, recently published by the FBI, explains why even for the non-animal-loving sector of society, it’s critically important that animal cruelty is properly addressed.
The truth, explained in this report, is that cruelty to animals is just the beginning of a career in crime for some sick individuals: all serial killers start out by being cruel to animals before moving on to humans. Hurting and killing animals is like crossing a moral threshold, going over a ethical hurdle. Once that barrier has been breached, it’s then much easier to cross the next moral threshold of hurting and killing humans.
So even if people do not care about animal welfare, for the good of our overall communities, we should all care deeply about acts of animal cruelty, and we should do all we can to deal with perpetrators effectively.
Research demonstrates the damage caused by animal cruelty
As the FBI report says in its executive summary,
- Animal abuse and cruelty are serious and often precursors to other crimes such as assault, domestic violence, and homicide.
- Animal abuse is often a window into the home, and awareness of animal abuse may prevent other crimes.
- There is a lack of communication between animal control and law enforcement.
- There is an awareness and education gap between animal control and law enforcement.
- Communities care about animal cruelty and often voice this concern to elected officials and community leaders through social media.
For a better society, we all need to do more to pay attention to animal cruelty. In Ireland, this responsibility falls most heavily on the national anti-animal-cruelty organisation, the ISPCA. And the biggest challenge to the ISPCA is funding.
The ISPCA provides the key to effective enforcement of Irish laws against animal cruelty
The ISPCA Inspectors are at the forefront of animal welfare in Ireland. They respond to allegations of cruelty, neglect and abuse. The ISPCA Inspectorate directly interacts with thousands of animals throughout the year, and where necessary they follow through with prosecutions.
The increased powers afforded to the ISPCA’s Inspectors pursuant to the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 (AHWA) uniquely position the ISPCA to be at the forefront of preventing cruelty to animals in Ireland.
However there are only nine ISPCA inspectors covering the entire country of Ireland. There are simply not enough feet on the ground to deal with animal cruelty effectively.
More funding is needed to increase the number of ISPCA inspectors
It costs around €50,000 to keep an Inspector on the road for a year, including uniform, vehicle costs, logistical costs (computer / phone), support (IT, help desk etc.).
It’s clear to me that the main hurdle to combatting animal cruelty in Ireland is lack of resources focussed on the issue. And the easiest way to improve the situation is to direct more resources to ISPCA inspectors.
The aim should be to double the number of inspectors on the road: this would cost close to €5000000 per annum. In a country where the government gives nearly €17 million – over thirty times the sum needed – to greyhound racing, this should be a no brainer.
80% of the Irish public want to stop the €17 million state funding given to greyhound racing.
An online poll shows that over 80% of the Irish public believe that State funding of the discredited greyhound industry should be stopped.
Surely now, especially with the pro-animal welfare Green Party in government, there has never been a better time to tackle animal cruelty decisively. The simple act of diverting one-thirtieth of the funding from greyhound racing to the ISPCA inspectorate would make a significant difference.
For a better society for everyone, animal cruelty needs to be stopped. A rapid, significant expansion of the ISPCA inspectorate is the fastest, most effective way to do this. A simple diversion of a small portion of the funding of the greyhound industry would achieve this in the stroke of a ministerial pen.
Are you listening, Irish government?