Physical Cruelty Toward Animals in Massachusetts, 1975-1996

in Society & Animals
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This article describes the nature of animal abuse and the response of the criminal justice system to all cruelty cases prosecuted by the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals between 1975 and 1996. Dogs were the most common target; when combined with cats, these domestic animals composed the vast majority of incidents. Almost all of these animals were owned, and females were the majority of complainants. Suspects were almost always young males, and most of the time they allegedly shot, beat, stabbed, or threw their victims. Reportedly, adults were more likely than minors to abuse dogs, shoot them, and commit such acts alone rather than in a group, while minors were more likely to abuse cats, beat them, and commit such acts with peers present. Less than half of the alleged abusers were found guilty in court, one-third were fined, less than one-quarter had to pay restitution, one-fifth were put on probation, one-tenth were sent to jail, and an even smaller percent were required to undergo counseling or perform community service.

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