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Animal Abuse and Mental Health

Writers: Eishi Lim and Sophia Liu

Visual: Yasmeen Maulani

Animal cruelty perpetrators are three times more likely to conduct additional crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, assault, harassment, threats, and substance misuse. According to research, cruelty towards animals is a sign of more serious mental illness. People who conduct acts of cruelty to animals do not end there, according to research in psychology and criminology.


A review of mental patients who had mistreated dogs and cats repeatedly as children discovered that they all exhibited significant levels of hostility toward people. In addition, a police investigation in Australia found that 100 percent of sexual homicide offenders investigated had a history of animal cruelty.


Out of 36 convicted multiple murders, 46 percent admitted to committing animal torture as adolescents. 71-83 percent of women who have entered domestic violence shelters said their partners abused or killed family pet(s). A 1967 study found that puppies who were isolated at the ages of 3 days to 20 weeks were disturbed emotionally for life, regardless of having physical needs met.


Well, how does animal abuse affect animals mentally? When an animal needs constant supervision, it may show resistant/aggressive behavior and make excessive noise, which can become a cause of more abuse. This often suggests the animal is already under emotional distress (anxiety, fear, social deprivation, etc). Animals experience fear, phobias, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, frustration, and melancholy. These are all examples of unpleasant feelings for which there is strong evidence in animals.

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