Animal Cruelty Facts
Animal Cruelty Facts

98 Important Facts about Animal Cruelty

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published February 20, 2017Updated September 5, 2019
  • To make a 40-inch fur coat it takes between 30 and 200 chinchilla or 60 mink, 50 sables, 50 muskrats, 45 opossums, 40 raccoons, 35 rabbits, 20 foxes, 20 otters, 18 lynx, 16 coyotes, 15 beavers, or 8 seals.[5]
  • Many animals killed for fur come from fur farms, where animals are kept in tiny cages and are killed around 6 months old. Females might be kept longer. In nature, most animals build burros and huddle together for warmth. On fur farms, they are left exposed to the cold to encourage the thickest coats possible. If the animal freezes to death, its coat can still be used.[5]
  • Fur farmers are mainly concerned with preserving the animal’s whole coat and often choose the cheapest way to kill animals. Many ranchers use electrocution, which fries the animal inside out, similar to being cooked in a microwave. Some farmers also inject insecticides into the chests of minks. It takes several minutes for the minks to die a painful death.[5]
  • A recent trend in the fur market is astrakhan fur, also known as karakul or broadtail. Astrakhan fur is made from Astrakhan lambs that are killed at just a few days old. Some coats known as broadtail coats are made from the skin of unborn lambs. The mother’s throat is slit and her stomach is slashed to remove the developing lamb.[5]
  • The number one fur producer is China. In undercover footage taken at fur farms there, animals are slammed against the concrete floor to stun them. They are then skinned alive. It takes some animals more than 20 minutes to die.[5]
  • Interesting Animal Processing Fact
    Over 56 billion land animals are killed globally for food each year
  • In 2010, there were more farm animals living in the U.S. than there were humans on earth.[8]
  • Sheep used for wool live mainly outdoors and are shorn at the end of winter when their coats are the fullest, but before they would naturally shed. Australia loses about 1,000,000 sheep per year due to exposure after shearing.[5]
  • In some cases, sheep are bred to have skin with many folds, which allows an animal to hold more wool. However, the folds attract maggots, especially around the anus. In a condition called flystrike, the maggots eat the sheep alive. The traditional solution is called “mulesing,” in which huge chunks of flesh are sliced from the lamb’s hindquarters so that smooth scar tissue forms.[5]
  • Though a Texas beef company was cited 22 times in one year for violations that included chopping hooves off live cattle, no action was taken against the company.[5]
  • Hogs, unlike cattle, are dunked in tanks of hot water after they have been stunned to soften their hides for skinning. Stunning is not always successful, and secret videotape from an Iowa pork plant shows hogs squealing and kicking as they are being lowered into the water.[9]
  • Researchers note that not only are standard slaughter practices unethical, there are often reports of intentional abuse of animals by workers. For example, at the Pilgrim’s Pride slaughterhouse, which supplies KFC restaurants, a videotape shows workers kicking and stomping on chickens and smashing them against walls. Employees also ripped birds’ beaks off, twisted their heads off, and broke them in half—while the birds were still alive.[9]
  • Workers in a Butterball slaughterhouse in Arkansas were documented punching and stomping on live turkeys and slamming them against the walls. One Butterball employee stomped on a bird’s head, another swung a turkey against a metal handrail, and another worker was seen inserting his finger into a turkey’s cloaca.[8]
  • A worker at the House of Raeford Farms poultry plant was seen punching turkeys suspended on the conveyer belt as they moved past him on the way to the stun bath. He was an amateur boxer and thought the birds would make great punching practice.[8]
  • Not only are birds exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act, which dictates animals should be unconscious before the fatal blow, but all animals that are killed under religious Muslim and Jewish laws are exempt as well.[5]
  • In the United States, estimates range from 0.1% to 1% of the 10 billion land animals transported to slaughter each year die in transit. That translates to between 1 and 10 million animals. It is not unusual for young pigs to freeze against the walls of transport trucks; workers have to pry them off.[4]
  • A chimpanzee named Ron was used in a spinal experiment in which researchers, who were attempting to find spinal disc substitutes, removed his healthy spinal discs and replaced them with a device. The device was later removed, leaving Ron without part of his spine.[5]
  • “Humanity's true moral test, its fundamental test…consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.”

    - Milan Kundera

  • “Broiler” chickens (food chickens), which make up 8.5 billion of the nearly 10 billion animals raised for food each year, are often drugged and genetically manipulated to grow very large very quickly. They often cannot support their own weight, leaving their legs malformed or broken. Many die of heart or lung failure because these organs cannot keep up with their unnaturally rapid growth.[9]
  • On foie gras (fatty liver) duck farms, metal pipes are shoved down the throats of ducks 2-3 times per day in which over a pound of cornmeal is pumped into their stomachs. While “foie gras” means fatty liver, the ducks’ livers are actually diseased and have grown 5-10 times more than their normal size. Most ducks die before they are slaughtered. One report showed that ducks were too weak to fight off rats that were eating them alive. Many female ducks end up in the garbage because females produce smaller livers. They usually suffocate to death there.[5]
  • Traditionally, it took five years of grazing to get a steer to market size. However, now it takes 6 months of grazing and 14 months in a feedlot. This is due to enormous quantities of corn (not their natural food), protein supplements, and drugs, including growth hormones, that are administered to the animals.[4]
  • Commercially caught fish can take hours or even days to die. Hundreds of millions of fish are caught on long lines every year. Once hooked, instead of being dragged on board, they are left alive, struggling at the end of hooks until the trip is finished and the lines are pulled aboard.[5]
  • Shark fin soup is around $200 per serving, and the business kills 100 million sharks per year. Because it is not economically viable for fisherman to keep the whole shark, they just slice the fin off and throw the shark back into the ocean. Unable to swim, the shark sinks slowly to the bottom of the sea to die a slow death.[5]
  • Approximately 30-50% of heifers suffer from mastitis, an infection of the udders that cause swelling and makes milking excruciating. Mastitis is exacerbated by the hormones given to cows to make them produce more milk. Additionally, the infection is treated with antibiotics that end up in their milk. Some udders can weigh as much as a full-grown man.[9]
  • While fish farms were initially seen as a solution to overfishing, they have proven to be unhealthy. For example, salmon on farms are jammed into pens where they are dosed with antibiotics and pesticides and are given synthetic pigment to turn their flesh from gray to pink. Additionally, the Emperor penguin colonies have lost 50% of their numbers over the past half century because their main source of food, krill, have been harvested in massive amounts to be fed to farm-raised salmon.[5]
  • Interesting Fish Farm Facts
    While fish farms were initially seen as a solution to overfishing, they have proven to be unhealthy

  • Egg-laying hens are debeaked with hot knives to prevent cannibalism and fighting. A typical cage is about 12x20 inches, or the size of a single sheet of newspaper, and contains 4-8 birds. The cages, called battery cages, are stacked floor to ceiling in massive sheds. Hens living on the bottom tiers are showered with excrement. Battery cages are outlawed in some European countries but are still legal in the U.S.[8]
  • Egg-laying hens live on sloped cage floors so that the eggs will roll aside. However, the sloped floor damages their feet. In some cases, toenails become permanently tangled in the wire, so the flesh grows around it. The birds are essentially soldered to their cages.[9]
  • Because the flesh of egg-laying hens is so emaciated, it is not very marketable. Because chickens are not legally protected, these hens are often disposed of in the cheapest ways possible, such as being buried alive in huge ditches. Some chickens survive the burial (or sometimes gassing) and are later seen staggering around. These are called “zombie chickens.”[5]
  • In 2003, a ranch owner in San Diego disposed of 30,000 nonproductive egg-laying hens by feeding them into a wood chipper—alive.[5]
  • Over 1 billion bees have traditionally been exterminated every year by the honey industry. At the end of the season, it is not worthwhile for the farmers to winterize the hives, so it easier to burn them and begin again next season.[5]
  • In a Columbia University primate lab, a video was released showing a baboon bleeding from a wound in her head where a metal pipe had been inserted in order to observe the effects of stress on her menstrual cycle.[5]
  • Researchers test and kill millions of animals in attempt to find drugs that cure obesity-related ailments. Interestingly, a study of 55,000 healthy women found that vegetarians and vegans had a significantly lower risk of being overweight or obese than their omnivore counterparts.[5]
  • A 2006 study in the U.K. revealed that the number of animals used in military experiments, including biological and chemical warfare tests, had doubled in the last five years.[13]
  • The following are reasons people justify animal cruelty and deny animal rights: 1) animals do not have souls; 2) God gave humans dominion over animals; 3) humans are intellectually superior to animals; 4) animals do not reason, think, or feel pain like humans do; 5) animals are a natural resource to be used as humans see fit; and 6) animals kill each other.f[6]
  • Animal Cruelty Facts
    Debates about animal rights are ancient and enduring

  • A young medic described his training for his pre-Iraq duty. He was assigned to keep a pig alive. His pig was shot twice in the face with a 9mm pistol, shot six times with an AK-47, and then twice with a 12-gauge shotgun. Then he was set on fire. The medic was able to keep him alive for 15 hours.[13]
  • A video from the Department of Defense showed that fully conscious pigs were used to test the effectiveness of various Taser devices. On the tapes, pigs collapsed and convulsed or tried to run. Their mouths are wide open, shrieking. Though none of the pigs died during the experiment, they were all euthanized after.[5]
  • To test skin care cosmetics in the U.S., animals are often immobilized, shaved, and doused with products to see how much it takes to burn and blister their skin. The European Union has banned such cosmetic tests.[5]
  • Pig farms produce millions of tons of waste per year. The waste is toxic because pigs are given high doses of antibiotics and insecticide to keep them alive on the pig farms. Nearly 25.8 million gallons of toxic hog waste was dumped in the headwaters of the New River in North Carolina. Every single creature in the river was killed.[5]
  • During the Roman Empire, the massive Coliseum of Rome featured events in which animals fought to the death with each other and with people. Often, the animals were chained together or tormented with burning irons and darts to make fighting fiercer.[12]
  • The domestication of livestock such as pigs, cows, sheep, horses, and goats is thought to have occurred between 9000 and 5000 B.C. as agriculture became more important. History shows that the most suitable animals for domestication were those that naturally live in groups with a hierarchical social order that allowed humans to assume the dominant position.[12]
  • During the Middle Ages, cats were associated with the devil and were burned at the stake. By the beginning of the 14th century, Europe’s cat population had been severely depleted. Some scholars note that the depletion of cats allowed the bubonic plague to spread by fleas on rodents, which had surged out of control due to centuries of cat slaughter.[12]
  • Because the Catholic church had forbid human autopsies for centuries, animal experimentation would become a major research tool of modern medicine during the Enlightenment. Belgian physician Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) argued that animal vivisection was essential to the study of anatomy. Descartes argued that animals were mechanical things like clocks and could not feel pain. These arguments helped make animal vivisection more socially acceptable.[12]
  • During the Middle Ages, people believed that an animal that was whipped before slaughter would provide more tender meat. Whippings eventually evolved into letting dogs loose on an animal to bite and tear at its flesh.[12]
  • In 1641, the Massachusetts Bay Colony enacted a Body of Liberties that described the fundamental rights of colonists. Included in these rights was Article 92, which created the first modern law against animal cruelty. It stated that “No man shall exercise any Tirranny or Crueltie towards any Bruite creature which are usuallie kept for man’s use.”[12]
  • Philosophers who argued for compassion toward animals include John Locke (1632-1704), David Hume (1711-1776), and Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), who claimed that “The question is not, Can they reason? Nor Can they talk? But can they suffer?”[12]
  • Sad Animal Cruelty Facts
    Politicians differ on what constitutes animal cruelty
  • In a 2010 Gallup poll, Republicans were more likely to state that the buying and wearing of animal fur and conducting medical tests on animals were morally acceptable than Independents or Democrats. Republicans were least likely to agree that animal cloning was morally acceptable.[8]
  • In 1871, Harvard established one of the first vivisection laboratories in the country.[12]
  • In 1938, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act was passed, requiring animal testing of certain drugs and chemicals to make sure they were safe for humans. Following WWII (1939-1945), the use of medical and scientific research on animals exploded.[12]
  • In 2010, a bill called the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act passed, banning the “the creation, sale, and distribution of obscene videos that show the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating or impaling of live animals—often by women in stiletto heels—for the sexual gratification of viewers.”[8]
  • A 2010 Gallup poll showed significant differences between men and women on all animal morality issues. Men were far more accepting than women of buying and wearing animal fur (73% vs. 48%), conducting medical testing on animals (69% vs. 49%), and cloning animals (43% vs. 19%).[8]
  • The first patent ever issued to an animal was in 1988 when researchers at Harvard University obtained a patent for OncoMouse, a mouse that had been genetically engineered to be susceptible to cancer. Since that time other animals have been patented, such as pigs, sheep, goats, and cattle.[8]
  • In the U.S., over 9 billion farm animals were slaughtered in 2009. The largest number by far were chickens, at nearly 8.7 billion, followed by 245.8 million turkeys, 33.5 million adult cattle, 22.8 million ducks, 2.6 million sheep and lambs, and 980,000 calves. Worldwide, over 50 billion chickens are slaughtered each year.[8]
  • In 1960, 55 billion pounds of cattle, hogs, broilers (food chickens), and turkeys were produced. In 2009 there were nearly 125 billion pounds produced. The 1960 value of these animals was around $16 billion. In 2009, it was $70 billion.[8]
  • Castration, dehorning, branding, ear notching, tail clipping, and beak trimming are widely conducted in the U.S. without the use of anesthetics or pain medication. In Canada, local anesthetic is recommended. It is required by law in most cases in the U.K.[8]
  • The number of pounds of beef produced in the U.S. in 2009 was 27.8 billion pounds. The estimated per capita consumption of beef in 2009 was 90.4 pounds.[8]
  • In 2009, there were around 9 million dairy cows in the U.S. Each cow produced more than 20,000 pounds of milk. The combination of factory farming, high-tech breeding, and modern medicine has led to an increase of milk per cow over time.[8]
  • One criticism of dairy farming is that cows spend long periods standing on hard surfaces, such as concrete, metal gratings, and dirt-packed dry lots. This often contributes to lameness, which is the major reason cows are culled (killed) during the raising process.[8]
  • To produce veal (meat from young calves) calves are separated from their mothers and kept under extremely confined conditions. They are not allowed to exercise, to keep them from building muscle. They are fed diets low in iron to prevent the flesh from darkening, which results in anemic calves. An estimated 146 million pounds of veal were produced in the U.S. in 2009.[8]
  • Turkeys and chickens are exempt from federal humane slaughter laws, but they make up more than 90% of animals slaughtered each year in America. Because they are exempt, it is not required to stun them before they are shackled on a moving rail to have their throats slit. Some are still alive when they are submerged in the scalding tank. Those that are still alive are called “redskins.” Over 180 million chickens each year suffer through a botched death in the slaughterhouse.[8]
  • Sad Animal Abuse Fact
    Poultry is exempt from federal humane slaughter laws

  • At the slaughterhouse, cattle are stunned by a stun bolt into their forehead to render them unconscious. They are unconscious rather than killed, so that their heart will help pump the blood out of the body. The animal is then hoisted up by one rear leg to hang from a bleed rail. Its throat is then cut so that all of its blood can drain out. Following the bloodletting, the animal's carcass moves down the line to a number of process stations where the tail and hocks are cut off, the belly is cut open, and the hide is removed.[4]
  • Laying-hen chicks are sorted by gender when they are one day old. Only females are kept. The males are killed because they have not been bred for meat production and will not grow up to be “meaty” enough for humans. Millions of male chicks are either thrown into garbage bags where they suffocate or macerated (instantaneous killed in a high-speed grinder).[8]
  • It takes about 90 seconds for a chicken to die after its throat is slit in a slaughterhouse.[8]
  • Hogs are kept on short tethers or confined in cages and pens to keep them from exercising, which might build muscle instead of fat and toughen the meat. Antibiotics, hormones, and other drugs are routinely given to hogs to speed growth and prevent deadly diseases.[4]
  • Sows are kept in what are called “gestation crates” that are around 7 feet by 2 feet, just enough for the sow to lie down but not turn around. A sow eats, urinates, and defecates where she stands. The UK and Sweden have banned gestation crates. Spent breeding sows are usually slaughtered at around 2-3 years old.[4]
  • Factory-farmed hogs not only suffer from excesses crowding, stress, and boredom but also experience breathing disorders because of high concentrations of ammonia from their waste materials. Hogs also experience feet and leg deformities from standing on floors made of improper materials.[8]
  • Videos from hog farms reveal numerous problems, such as breeding sows with injuries and sores. Investigators also claim that prematurely born piglets fell through the slats of their holding pens into the manure pits below.[5]
  • Animal rights activists are critical of the fur industry because the industry over breeds the animals to produce desirable coat colors, which often leads to painful deformities in animals. The USDA does not regulate the farming and slaughter of fur animals.[8]
  • A 2010 Gallup poll found that 60% of those asked said buying and wearing fur is morally acceptable. Nearly 35% said it is morally wrong. This breakdown has changed little since the question was first polled in 2001.[8]
  • While exact numbers are difficulty to obtain, it is estimated that millions of animals are used in research, testing, and medical and veterinary training programs in the U.S. each year. One source estimates that the number of mice that are used in U.S. laboratories range from 17 million to “well over 100 million.”[8]
  • A 2010 Gallup poll reveals that 59% of those asked said “medical testing” on animals is morally acceptable. Thirty-four percent said it was morally wrong. Another 4% said it depends on the situation.[8]
  • Vivisection on animals dates back to at least the ancient Greeks and Romans.[12]
  • Little Known Animal Abuse Facts
    Slaughterhouses have also been called "dis-assembly lines"
  • Factory farming emphasizes speed and technology. Female animals are artificially inseminated rather than mated, and pregnancies are spaced closer together to increase production. Mothers and offspring are separated quickly to keep the process moving. Antibiotics, hormones, and growth-enhancing drugs are administered to ensure rapid growth and to prevent deadly diseases. Slaughterhouses are run like assembly lines with an emphasis on speed and quantity.[4]
  • Mark Twain wrote a short story title “A Dog’s Tale” in 1903 to protest cruelty to animals and their use in research. It is told from the viewpoint of a dog that lives with the family of scientists and saves the family’s baby from a nursery fire. Later, however, the dog sees her own puppy blinded and killed during an experiment that was performed by the scientist to impress his friends.[8]
  • Researchers are experimenting with genetic engineering on pigs so that they can grow organs that will not be rejected by human bodies. Scientists believe that harvesting organs from transgenic pigs could one day save millions of human lives. While some people consider this medical progress, others see it as animal cruelty.[8]
  • A 2010 Gallup poll found that 31% of those asked said the cloning of animals is morally acceptable. Another 63% said it is morally wrong.[8]
  • Approximately 5,000 Thoroughbred racehorses died between 2003 and 2008. Most of the horses were euthanized after suffering serious injuries on the racetrack. Countless other deaths went unreported because of lax record keeping.[8]
  • The Greyhound Protection League estimates that more than 1 million unwanted racing greyhounds have been culled (killed) by the industry since the 1930s.[8]
  • In the United States, dogfighting is an illegal, multimillion-dollar gambling industry that is often associated with guns, auto theft, arms, smuggling, money laundering, and drug trafficking. Dogs most often used are pit bulls. Fights go on for hours, sometimes to the death. Dogs that survive the fights frequently die hours or days later from shock, blood loss, or infection.[8]
  • Fighting dogs are often trained on what are called “catmills.” A catmill holds an animal such as a small dog, cat, rabbit, or pit bulls that show no inclination for fighting just out of the reach of the training dog while it runs. These bait dogs are often animals stolen from the neighborhoods and are usually killed during the training.[8]
  • In 2007, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick (1980- ) was arrested for running a dogfighting operation on his property in Virginia. He and his partners killed poor-fighting dogs by electrocuting, hanging, drowning, or beating the dogs to death. He lost his multi-million contract with the Atlanta Falcons and millions more in endorsements.[8]
  • During the filming of a 1939 movie titled Jesse James, a horse was killed when it was forced to jump off a cliff for a scene. Public complaints led to the formation of the film-monitoring unit of the American Humane Association.[7]
  • The first captive orca was collected for Marineland Pacific in 1961. The animal lived for only day. She repeatedly smashed herself against the walls of her tank until she died.[8]
  • Most of the 6 million horses that served in the U.S. military during WWI were killed. The deaths of millions of other horses in military service to other countries severely depleted the world’s horse population. Animal rights activists and welfarists argue that animals involved in warfare did not know what they were fighting for or against and had poor chances of survival.[2]
  • Interesting Pig Tail Fact
    Because stressed pigs will bite each others’ tails, farmers cut the tails off
  • To prevent stressed pigs from biting off each others’ tails—a stress-induced behavior—farmers simply cut off the pigs’ tails.[5]
  • Dogs used in wars after WWII typically were not returned to their owners because the military was afraid the animals would attack someone in civilian life. They were either euthanized or left behind on the battlefield. However, in 2000 President Clinton signed a bill that allowed military dogs to be adopted if their owners did not hold the U.S. government liable for any injuries or damages by former military dogs.[2]
  • Hundreds of animals were used by the U.S. military during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including chickens, dogs, dolphins, and pigeons. Activists argued that the military wasted animals needlessly when sophisticated technology could have been used instead.[2]
  • The Human Society of the United States reports that U.S. shelters receive 6-8 million cats and dogs each year. Approximately half of these are euthanized. The remainder are adopted or reclaimed.[8]
  • In general, shelters located in the Northeast have the lowest euthanization rates. Shelters in the Southeast have the highest. This is due to several factors including weather, the availability of low-cost spay-neuter programs, and animal control policies. Additionally, the cold winters in the Northeast lower the fertility rates of cats and dogs and claim the lives of stray animals. Animal welfare organizations are also more popular in the Northeast.[8]
  • Puppy mills are facilities that breed puppies in inferior conditions and sell them in commercial markets. It is believed that over 5,000 puppy mills exist in U.S.[8]
  • Almost half of all antibiotics in the U.S. end up in animal feed. Milk-fed veal contains as much as 500 times the legal tolerance levels of antibiotics.[8]
  • To improve the yolk color of commercial eggs, the feed of commercial egg-laying hens contains artificial color to enrich the pale color of their egg yolks. Eggs from healthy hens have dark yellow yolks.[8]
  • According to USDA inspectors, chickens that pass inspection for human consumption include those stained with feces, those visibly dripping with pus, and those that contain precancerous tumors. Government inspectors have less than 2 seconds to examine each chicken on the production line.[8]
  • Over 95% of the animals deliberately killed each year in the U.S. are killed for food. If everyone in the U.S. were vegetarian, it would save around 6 billion animals every year.[8]
  • There are two general approaches to animal rights. The first is the animal welfare position, which holds that there is nothing wrong with using animals for human purposes as long as it does not cause unnecessary pain or suffering for the animal. Animal right activists take a stronger stance and argue that animals should not be viewed as property or as commodities.[6]
  • Animal cruelty can either be active (commission) or passive (omission). Passive cruelty is characterized by neglect, such as starvation, parasite infestation, poor shelter in extreme weather, and lack of veterinary care. Active abuse is intentional abuse.[6]
  • Interesting Dahmer Fact
    Serial killers often start out by killing and torturing animals as children
  • According to the FBI, cruelty to animals is a common trait of serial rapists and murderers. Serial killers often start out by killing and torturing animals as children.[10]
  • Over 71% of women seeking shelter at safe house have reported that their partners have threatened or killed their pet.[1]
  • Michael Cimino was criticized for killing and brutalizing several animals during the 1980 movie Heaven’s Gate. He even blew up a horse with dynamite, a scene that made it into the movie.[7]
  • Several thousands of videos of actual, live animal cruelty can be found on YouTube. While many of the videos have been flagged as inappropriate, YouTube generally does not remove them.[3]
  • In Spain, during the festive “Toro Jubilo,” gobs of pitch are placed on a bull’s horn and then lit on fire. The bull is let loose in the streets, where it runs frantically in pain as the fire burns the bull’s horns, eyes, and body while the spectators cheer. The bull can be on fire for hours.[11]

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