'Cruelty' may be difficult to define but there are some instances where there is clear animal abuse and neglect. Amazingly in my county, there is a story that has just been reported about 2 women being arrested for animal cruelty. The animals were covered in filth, malnourished, and starving (some to the point of beginning to devour each other). That is definitely cruelty under any circumstance. There has to be some type of mental illness involved on the part of these women. They, along with other people who place animals in inhumane conditions, should be fined and sent to jail for a time period.
As #3 suggests, this is a tough question, because of how one applies the definition of cruelty. Is killing an animal for food cruel?
Certainly most who are pet owners take extremely good care of their pets; I would argue the same goes, to some extent, for those who raise animals for food (having diseased animals will put them out of business.)
I agree that it is difficult to define what cruelty to animals is. I have a dear friend who thinks it is cruel to put an animal down while I think it is cruel to let an animal suffer. Some people know they are hurting animals and they should be punished. People who allow and contribute to dog fighting, for instance, should certainly be heavily punished. They were intentionally cruel and negligent. But, what about the little old lady with 50 cats? The humane society would say that is cruel and the animals cannot possibly be well cared for. Did the little old lady mean to hurt the animals? Should she really be fined or go to jail? I think we have to look at both the definition of cruelty and the intent of the person before we can decide what punishment they deserve.
I agree that punishments would have to be calibrated and woud have to be clearly defined. Laws mandating particular punishments would have to be debated and justified. I do believe that cruelty -- the intentional infliction of severe pain -- should be an important factor in determining the nature of punishments. Motives should also be carefully considered. Killing a dog that was attacking someone would, in my view, count as defensible; killing a dog by making it fight with other dogs would, in my view, be indefensible and should be punished with jail time.
I think that if the legal system can define different levels of animal cruelty in the same way they define different levels of murder, then many unforeseen problems can be eliminated.
Outside of that, I have a great deal of hatred (I know, a strong word) for people who hurt those who are defenseless (children, people weaker then them, and animals). If animal cruelty is to be punishable (by prison time or fines), the lines need to be clearly defined.
For example, if my dog were to attack my children, I would not think twice about killing her. Should I go to jail for protecting my children? I think not.
This is a horribly difficult question because it is hard to define what counts as cruelty to animals. Here in the United States, killing animals for food is seen as cruel if it is not done in the "correct" way. Where I grew up, we killed animals in "cruel" ways all the time and thought nothing of it. Does keeping animals caged up and then killing them for food constitute cruelty? Allowing them to roam free and then killing them?
The reason I bring this up is that this has an impact on what the punishments should be. We can all agree that it is wrong to kill a human being. But how wrong is it to kill a dog? We can't agree on that. So I would argue that there should not typically be harsh punishments for animal cruelty. Except in the most extreme cases, I think that people should only be fined.
I feel that any animal being harmed should result in punishment. I also think depending on the animal, and/or how it was harmed should determine how much trouble the person/persons involved should get in.
What i think is they should go to jail, becuase it's like killing a person. Anamils are like family, so why not sent the people that hurt them?