Animal cruelty facts and stats (2024)

The shocking number of animal cruelty cases reported every day is just the tip of the iceberg—most cases are never reported. Unlike violent crimes against people, cases of animal abuse are not compiled by state or federal agencies, making it difficult to calculate just how common they are. However, we can use the information that is available to try to understand and prevent cases of abuse.

Who abuses animals?

Cruelty and neglect cross all social and economic boundaries and media reports suggest that animal abuse is common in both rural and urban areas.

  • Intentional cruelty to animals is strongly correlated with other crimes, including violence against people.
  • Hoarding behavior often victimizes animals. Sufferers of a hoarding disorder may impose severe neglect on animals by housing far more than they are able to adequately take care of. Serious animal neglect (such as hoarding) is often an indicator of people in need of social or mental health services.
  • Surveys suggest that those who intentionally abuse animals are predominantly men under 30, while those involved in animal hoarding are more likely to be women over 60.

Most common victims

The animals whose abuse is most often reported are dogs, cats, horses and livestock. Undercover investigations have revealed that animal abuse abounds in the factory farm industry. But because of the weak protections afforded to livestock under state cruelty laws, only the most shocking cases are reported, and few are ever prosecuted.

Organized cruelty

Dogfighting, co*ckfighting and other forms of organized animal cruelty go hand in hand with other crimes, and continues in many areas of the United States due to public corruption.

  • The HSUS documented uniformed police officers at a co*ckfighting pit in Kentucky.
  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has prosecuted multiple cases where drug cartels were running narcotics through co*ckfighting and dogfighting operations.
  • Dozens of homicides have occurred at co*ckfights and dogfights.
  • A California man was killed in a disagreement about a $10 co*ckfight bet.

The HSUS’s investigative team combats complacent public officialsand has worked with the FBI on public corruption cases in Tennessee and Virginia. In both instances, law enforcement officers were indicted and convicted.

Correlation with domestic violence

Data on domestic violence and child abuse cases reveal that a staggering number of animals are targeted by those who abuse their children or spouses.

  • There are approximately 70 million pet dogs and 74.1 million pet cats in the U.S. where 20 men and women are assaulted per minute (an average of around 10 million a year).
  • In one survey, 71 % of domestic violence victims reported that their abuser also targeted pets.
  • In one study of families under investigation for suspected child abuse, researchers found that pet abuse had occurred in 88 % of the families under supervision for physical abuse of their children.

To put a stop to this pattern of violence, theHumane Society Legislative Fundsupported thePets and Women’s Safety (PAWS) Act,introduced to Congress in 2015 as H.R. 1258 and S.B. 1559 and enacted as part of the farm bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in 2018. Once fully enacted, the PAWS Act helps victims of domestic abuse find the means to escape their abusers while keeping their companion animals safe—many victims remain in abusive households for fear of their pets’ safety.

State legislative trends

The HSUS has long led the push for stronger animal cruelty laws and provides training for law officials to detect and prosecute these crimes. With South Dakota joining the fight in March of 2014, animal cruelty laws now include felony provisions in all 50 states.

First vs. subsequent offense

Given that a fraction of animal cruelty acts are reported or successfully prosecuted, we are committed to supporting felony convictions in cases of severe cruelty.

  • 49 states have laws to provide felony penalties for animal torture on the first offense.
  • Only Iowa doesn’t have such a law.
  • Animal cruelty laws typically cover intentional and egregious animal neglect and abuse.

Changes in federal tracking

On January 1, 2016, the FBI added cruelty to animals as a category in the Uniform Crime Report, a nationwide crime reporting system commonly used in homicide investigations. While only about a third of U.S. communities currently participate in the system, the data generated will help create a clearer picture of animal abuse and guide strategies for intervention and enforcement. Data collection covers four categories: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse (such as dogfighting and co*ckfighting) and animal sexual abuse.

Animal cruelty facts and stats (2024)


What are the facts and statistics of animal cruelty? ›

Globally, at least one animal is abused every 60 seconds. Close to 10 million animals die from abuse or cruelty annually in the United States. Laboratories across the country abuse and kill over 110 million animals each year for experiments, including chemical, cosmetic, food and drug testing.

What is the number one cause of animal cruelty? ›

Neglect is the most common type of animal cruelty.

What state has the highest rate of animal cruelty? ›

There were 16,573 animal cruelty offenses reported to U.S. law enforcement agencies in 2021. Texas tops the list for the highest number of animal cruelty offenses in the nation.

Where does animal cruelty mostly happen? ›

Animals in Asia are among the most abused in the world. From bears captured and caged for their 'bile', to dogs and cats slaughtered in horrific ways for their meat, exploitation of animals in Asia is common and widespread.

What percentage of kids hurt animals? ›

Abstract. Animal abuse by children is common, with 3-44% of children being reported to abuse animals at some point during their childhood.

How many animals get abused every year? ›

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that nearly 1 million animals a year are abused or killed in episodes of domestic violence.

How many animals are harmed each year? ›

The most recent data about land animals bred, kept and slaughtered for consumption has revealed a figure higher than ever before: An estimated 92.2 billion land animals are kept and slaughtered annually in the global food system, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

What percentage of people are cruel to animals? ›

The lifetime prevalence of animal cruelty in U.S. adults was 1.8%.

What is one of the largest source of animal cruelty? ›

Factory farming exploits animals, cramming them together and abusing them in an effort to boost productivity. Around two-thirds of farm animals are factory farmed worldwide every year – that's nearly 50 billion animals.

Are cats abused more than dogs? ›

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this history is how the continuing abuse of cats today can be traced back to that moment. Studies show cats are abused at higher rates than dogs or other domestic animals in almost every category of abuse — beating, throwing, mutilation, drowning.

What states are cruelty free? ›

Twelve states (California, Hawai'i, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Virginia and Washington) have passed laws banning the sale of animal-tested cosmetics.

How many animals are killed in zoos? ›

“100 million wild animals are traded internationally each year. According to In Defense of Animals, up to 5,000 zoo animals are killed each year — mind you, only in Europe.” According to the RSPCA, an estimated 600,000 birds and mammals are kept in the world's zoos.

What animal suffers the most in zoos? ›

One of the most common forms of mistreatment is inadequate and limited living conditions. For example, tigers and lions have about 18,000 times less space in their captive enclosures than what they would have in the wild, and polar bears have one million times less space.

Are most animals killed after animal testing? ›

Animals are typically killed once an experiment is over so that their tissues and organs can be examined, although it is not unusual for animals to be used in multiple experiments over many years.

What is the main cause of animal cruelty? ›

The root causes of violent acts against animals remain ambiguous. However, many researchers agree that lack of empathy education early in life combined with extreme childhood abuse may contribute to later acts of violence against animals and people.

What are the facts about cruel animal testing? ›

Each year, it is estimated that more than 50 million dogs, cats, monkeys, rabbits, rats and other animals are forced to endure painful experiments in the U.S. These animals are deliberately sickened with toxic chemicals or infected with diseases, live in barren cages and are typically killed when the experiment ends.

What are the statistics of animal testing? ›

Animal Testing Facts and Figures

In 2022, more than 1.27 million animals were held captive in laboratories or used in experiments, excluding rats, mice, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and agricultural animals used in agricultural experiments. The number of mice and rats is estimated to have been 111 million.

What are the results of animal cruelty? ›

Physical – One of the most significant consequences of animal abuse is the physical harm that it causes to animals. Abused animals may suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, injuries, infections, and diseases. They may even die as a result of their mistreatment.

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