Why Do People Abuse Horses?
Studies are now showing a close relationship between animal abuse and future acts of violence both at home and in the community. In fact, animal abuse is a strong predictor of future violent acts among juveniles. It might start with a young child throwing rocks at a cat, but it can end up years later with the person in prison, convicted of assault or, even worse, murder.
Some people think they need to have extreme power and control over other living things. While teaching a dog to heel or teaching a horse to ride requires control, it doesn’t require whips and chains. Starving animals to death, leaving them chained to a tree for months and years, all these are examples of an unhealthy need to dominate others.
“Daddy, can I have a horse? Please?”
Sometimes it isn’t domination. Sometimes it’s just lack of knowledge. The beautiful pony bought by a family for their child requires a lot of knowledge and care. When that knowledge isn’t there, when the “pleasure” becomes too much work or the dream of owning a horse is replaced by the realities of ownership, the horse suffers. Lack of knowledge about the proper food, water and medical care spells a slow and painful death for the horse, as does the owner who knows little about training, who becomes frustrated and angry, striking out with physical abuse that can permanently injure or kill.
“What exactly is abuse?”
Each state has its own laws governing “abuse and neglect.” Some are very strict, others just give a minimal definition and leave it up to the law enforcement officer to make a judgement. Not too many years ago it was legal to tie a horse up and beat it half to death. Even now, a lot of people just turn their back when it happens.
Starvation is the biggest complaint we receive, neglect comes second. Most of the cases we work on are obvious, but other cases require testimony from witnesses who are sometimes reluctant to get involved. It’s a sad commentary on our society when abuse and neglect, be it a horse or a child, goes unreported because, “I didn’t want to bother anyone.”
There are counties in Texas that work closely with nonprofits in enforcing animal abuse laws. Unfortunately, there are a lot of counties that ignore the problem. Many counties don’t have the facilities to handle seizures, especially when large animals are involved, nor do they have the budget to feed them, provide vet care and documentation. There are answers to these problems but, until there is an organized effort to look at the answers, the status quo will remain.
Learn more about animal cruelty laws.
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Habitat for Horses is always on the lookout for a few great people at our ranches. The work is unique, the animals are special and we want folks who both know and understand the special connection our animals need.