Dissertation Prospectus: Exploring the Reasons People Abuse Animals

Dissertation Prospectus: Exploring the Reasons People Abuse Animals

Dissertation Prospectus: Exploring the Reasons People Abuse Animals






Dissertation Prospectus

Exploring the Reasons People Abuse Animals

Barbie Bittinger

Walden University

Gregory Koehle

Date: 06/01/2018









Animal Abuse


From the analysis of research and a review of literature, it is apparent that thorough research has been done onissue that concern animal abuse. We identify that different names such as animal cruelty have been developed to address the issue of animal abuse. Several animal rights movementshave been established all over the country. Animal freedom and liberty have been addressed adequately through various projectionist rights. However, there are no adequate studies which address the issue of why mistreatment of animals still prevails in spite of these regulations and interventions. The reasons why human beings do not find any problem in inflicting pain and exposing various animals to pain isaddressed in this study. The need to mitigate the pain inflicted on animals as well as animal cruelty whether it is the wild animals will be prioritized.

The population which will be utilized in the research will be derived from various animal zoos and wildlife parks. We are certain that these officials are highly competent and knowledgeable in this field of animal abuse. Additionally, we will obtain data from questionnaires issued to randomly chosen respondents. In these questionnaires, open-ended questions will be posed to the respondents with the main aim of ensuring that they have reflected their honest, unfiltered opinion without coercion or biasedness (McColl et al, 2001). We will utilize a sample of twentyindividuals as well as threewildlife firms. Three zoos will also be incorporated in the sample act as a representation of the vast population. We estimate that the accuracy and reliability of the results will be high owing to the fact that the sample is a representation of the whole population consisting of both who understand animal treatment and those who are not particularly trained on proper animal treatment. Additionally, the use of open-ended questions will not restrict the respondents to “yes” or “no” answers thus theopinions will be broad and detailed.

Problem Statement

Currently, the abusive cases on animals that are under human care have been on the rise (Sollund, 2013). In various parliamentary or Senate sittings or even in trial rooms, both the domesticated and wild animals that have been the beauty of nature have little or no protection at all. Some people in the United States and other parts of the globe tend to preserve the lives of their pets and other domesticated animals, but a countable number are bothered with the lives of their wild ‘brothers and sisters,’ no wonder the scorching rate of extinction. However, it so unfortunate to find some cultures and group of individuals to have a firm survival and sacrificial urge on domesticated animals. Very minor research has been executed on this topic. The proposed research would fill some of the gaps by examining the reasons that people abuse animals. The findings from this research could help to inform policy(s) at various levels and potentially prevent animal abuse and violent crimes against people as the two are correlated (Humane Society webpage).



The aim of this proposed qualitative research is majorly to gain a better understanding of the reasons people abuse domesticated animals. The extent of animal abuse is largely unknown due to nature and circumstances in which animal abuse occurs. Evidence of the occurrence of animal abuse is seen in high profile cases such as Michael Vick’s case, as well as in recorded crime statistics across the United States as all states have laws against animal abuse. There is a consensus that the animal abuse that is known is just the tip of the iceberg (Humane Society). Gaining a better understanding of why people abuse animals could lead to changes in education and training for law enforcement, animal health care providers, and the general population. This could potentially lead to a decrease in animal abuse through prevention, detection, and prosecution.


The research findings could provide valuable insight into the reasons people abuse animals. This information canbe used to inform preventative policies, community education and awareness, training for field personnel, investigative protocol, and possibly legislation. The research findings could inform the areas above and ultimately protect animals from illegal abuse. Also, abuseof animals is strongly correlated with atrocities against human beings (Humane Society). We will add to the body of knowledge as we inform the public on the major causes of animal cruelty. Additionally, the inferences and recommendations will be helpful for adoption by the policymakers. As a result the society will receive a much more insight on the importance of humane approach in treating animals which is a positive direction taken by the society.


The amount and extent of animal abuse are unknown. As mentioned earlier, the amount of abuse that is known is thought to be the tip of the iceberg. Animal cruelty can occur in a variety of ways, but unfortunately often goes unnoticed and unreported (Humane Society). Various researchers and scholars have become motivated to fathom and ascertain the essence that drives people to hurt the animals that they have under their care within the walls of their homes (Kavanagh, 2013).

Research conducted by Mogbo and others (2013) who were also interested in determining the rate of animal cruelty determined that the rates increase on daily bases. Several examples of animal cruelty have been identified ranging from the little cases of killing or abusing pets or making them starve. Also, it has been identified that animal cruelty has resulted in some several animal rights activists who are concerned with the welfare of pets and wild animals. Arluke and Madfis (2014) identify that animal cruelty is a form of inflicting pain on animals or making them suffera situation which they define as zoosadism. Similar research has been conducted by Alleyne and Parfitt (2017) whose major intention was to investigate what is being done to curb animal abuse. In this research, it was determined that there are several laws and regulations which have been put in place to ensure that there is adequate protection of animal rights. Research shows that some laws call for banning of hunting and killing animals for food, entertainment, and clothing among other uses. Lockwood and Arkow (2016) studied the same subject and identified that animals should be used for human purposes with a more significant concern for their welfare.

This means that they ought to be used for food, clothing among other uses in such a way that they reduce the pain the pain which is often inflicted on animals. This argument is based on the fact that human beings use animals for many purposes including food. Additionally, some animals are needed by human beings to research about diseases or for other educational purposes. Thus the need to find alternative ways of ensuring that least damage is done to them. Ascione (2011) identifies that several animal rights have been put in place to ensure that there is adequate treatment.

Unfortunately, many cases of animal abuse go unreported making it hard to estimate the exact prevalence. According to a research conducted in the US-based on 1, 423 cases of animal abuse, 70% of all cases were against dogs, 20.9% cats while 24.1% was against other animals (FBI, 2016). The very habitual types of animal abuse include abandonment and neglect, and hoarding, which are described as keeping too many animals beyond one’s ability to care for them properly. Dissertation Prospectus: Exploring the Reasons People Abuse Animals

Figure 1: Data on common types of animal abuse. Retrieved from https://letters2president.org/letters/4011

Teaching children concerning the importance of respecting animals: This group of individuals has the affinity of copying the behavior of adults in their lives. Hence parents are called upon to play their part well by being good role models to their young ones when it comes to dealing with animals under their care (Flynn, 2011). Ultimately when they too will become grown-ups, they shall continue showing compassion to animals.

Volunteering to prospects that are involved in helping animals: it is wise for one to take part in helping animals through availing his or her home to be used a foster home by animals that are either sick, neglected or injured before their transfer to potential permanent homes.

Provision of ample support for legislation that is concerned with promoting acts of kindness towards animals: The public is inspired to rally their unrelenting support for the established enactment. For example, the animal legislation in Texas which strives to provide a reviewable balanced scorecard that can be a tool for determining how the legislators show their support for the animals. Dissertation Prospectus: Exploring the Reasons People Abuse Animals


Our study will be based on the theoretical framework of Immanuel Kant who looks into autonomy and the ability of human beings to be able to decide what is right. Both the humans and animals have the ability to choose what is in their best interest and only human beings have the ability to either ascertain or ignore. The theory looks into the deeper understanding if how human conscience works in relation to how they treat the animals.People misuse animals for various reasons. While some people believe that they are right when using animals and pets for activities such as contest, others are convinced to use them to mistreating them by overworking them or beating them intentionally. There are laws which are put in place to ensure that animals are protected. Thus, when individuals fail to meet the demands of the regulations, they are known to have committed a felony. The law ensures that people do not misuse animals by restricting them from accessing or participating in the animal contest. However, we learn that people still participate in the contests owing to the vast profits which emanate from such activities. We note that animals can also be abused by abandoning them and failing to take good care of them. These are some of the reasons why people often abuse animals. Cruelty is also shown to animals when individuals decide to abuse them sexually. Torturing of animals and inflicting pain on them is only permitted to veterinaries. Dissertation Prospectus: Exploring the Reasons People Abuse Animals


Diagrammatic Representation of Theoretical Framework

Animals for food

Using animals for entertainment


Training people

Laws and regulations

Strict rules in parks

Licenses for pet holders



Tight rules and consequences for animal abusers


Identifying the Problems
Developing intervention strategies
Executing the intervention strategies
Safe and Secure Animals


Assess the Effectiveness of the interventions










Research Questions

  1. Why do people abuse animals?
  2. What are some of the measures towards mitigating animal abuse?

Nature of the Study

The proposed qualitative research will use a narrative inquiry approach. Individual interviews will be conducted with individuals who have direct experience with animal abuse cases. The interviews will focus on gaining a better understanding of why people abuse animals and the impact of measures on mitigating animal abuse. The research participants will be asked to share their insight, stories from their field experience in animal abuse cases, and provide their opinions on why people abuse animals.

Possible Types and Sources of Data

  1. Interview three to five police officers who have direct experience in investigating cases of animal abuse.
  2. Interview three to five veterinary health practitioners who have direct experience with animals who have been abused and reported to them.

Police officers who have direct experience investigating the case of animal abuse would be able to provide their insight on the reasons that people abuse animals, as well as submit testimoniesof the abuse which could be analyzed for common themes. Similarly, veterinary health practitioners with direct experience in animal abuse cases would be able to offer their insight into the reasons that people abuse animals. Also, their stories of animal abuse cases could be analyzed common form themes. Dissertation Prospectus: Exploring the Reasons People Abuse Animals


Alleyne, E., & Parfitt, C. (2017). Adult-Perpetrated Animal Abuse: A Systematic Literature Review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 1524838017708785.

Arluke, A., &Madfis, E. (2014). Animal abuse as a warning sign of school massacres: A critique and refinement. Homicide Studies, 18(1), 7-22.

Ascione, F. R. (2001). Animal abuse and youth violence. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Ascione, F.R. (1998). Battered women’s reports of their partners’ and their children’s cruelty to animals. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 1, 119-133.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2016. “Tracking Animal Cruelty: FBI Collecting Data on Crimes Against Animals.”

Flynn (2011). Examining the links between animal abuse and human violence. Crime, law and social change, 55(5), 453-468.

Kavanagh, Signal & Taylor, N. (2013). The Dark Triad and animal cruelty: Dark personalities, dark attitudes, and dark behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(6), 666-670.

Lockwood, R., &Arkow, P. (2016). Animal abuse and interpersonal violence: the cruelty connection and its implications for veterinary pathology. Veterinary pathology, 53(5), 910-918.

McColl, E., Jacoby, A., Thomas, L., Soutter, J., Bamford, C., Steen, N., … & Bond, J. (2001). Design and use of questionnaires: a review of best practice applicable to surveys of health service staff and patients. Core Research.

Sollund, R. (2013). Animal trafficking and trade: Abuse and species injustice. Emerging issues in green criminology (pp. 72-92). Palgrave Macmillan, London.