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Stopping animal cruelty

Neglect, abandonment, irresponsible custody, animal abuse for sport and entertainment or other examples of animal cruelty. So far, the acts of brutality against animals in Spain could only be punished with administrative sanctions: you could go to prison for stealing a car, but not for mistreating an animal.

At SOS Galgos we believe it is time that Spain had the legal means to fight more effectively against animal cruelty: penalties already exist for some cases of manifest cruelty under the criminal code, but more human and material resources, and a greater involvement of government institutions, are needed to enforce them.

Violence against people (abuse of women and children) and saturation of the criminal justice system and are the most common excuses given to negate involvement in the fight against violence towards animals.

But there are increasing reports and studies that show a connection between the abuse of animals and the violence shown towards people. Treating the violence against animals more seriously, would therefore be beneficial in fighting the the violence which affects people.


1. The abuse of animals can indicate a deeper problem: children who abuse animals can live in situations of abuse themselves, and may be being conditioned to act violently towards people.

2. Cruelty to animals may be the only visible sign of a family where abuse exists: while the abuse of women and children usually occurs in private, the abuse of animals is often committed openly.

3. Witnesses or victims of violence often talk more easily about the abuse of animals: this begins a dialogue with the authorities that may lead to discover the perpetrator of violence against people.

4. Violence is violence: a person who abuses animals lacks empathy for other living things and is at risk of abusing others.

5. The judicial system suffers from an overload of work and does not consider animal cruelty as a priority over cases of murder, rape, abuse and other violent crimes: the effective treatment of animal cruelty by the police, prosecutors and judges can make the difference between controlling violence or allowing it to grow.

6. But prosecution is not enough: treatment and monitoring are also crucial to breaking the cycle of violence. Counseling programs can help identify and / or mitigate other forms of violence. Innovative programmes that use the interaction with animals can provide treatment to juvenile offenders so that they learn to generate empathy, trust and ability to communicate non-violently.