Animal Cruelty Glossary
Below are some commonly used words within animal welfare that you may come across while browsing the site.
Animal cruelty: Animal cruelty generally falls into two categories: neglect, or intentional cruelty. Neglect is the failure to provide adequate water, food, shelter, or necessary care. Examples of neglect include: starvation; dehydration; inadequate shelter; parasite infestations; failure to seek veterinary care when an animal is in need of medical attention; allowing a collar to grow into an animal's skin; confinement without adequate light, ventilation, space or in unsanitary conditions; and failure to trim hoofs or nails resulting in excessive growth (e.g. hoofs curling upwards). In some cases neglect is a result of the owner's ignorance, and can be rectified by law enforcement authorities, like the Ontario SPCA, educating the owner and issuing orders to improve the animal's living conditions.
Backyard breeder: An owner whose pet may have an unplanned litter by accident, or who breeds on purpose. Common reasons cited include: making extra money, mistakenly believing every dog should have a litter, letting the children witness "the miracle of birth," or because they think their dog would make cute puppies. The animals involved are generally not tested for health or genetic problems, and typically there is no thought to where the puppies will go. They are the single greatest cause of pet overpopulation. Many are sold locally through newspaper ads.
Puppy mill: The National Companion Animal Coalition defines puppy mills as a high-volume, sub-standard dog breeding operation, which sells purebred or mixed-breed dogs, to unsuspecting buyers. Characteristics common to puppy mills include: sub-standard health and/or environment issues; sub-standard animal care, treatment and/or socialization; sub-standard breeding practices which lead to genetic defects or hereditary disorders; and erroneous or falsified certificates of registration, pedigree, and/or genetic background. Note: These conditions may also exist in small volume or single-breed establishments.
Cock fighting: An illegal blood sport in which two roosters, trained to severely injure and/or kill one another, are placed beak to beak in a small ring and encouraged to fight to the death. Usually wagers are made on the outcome of the match with the surviving bird being declared the winner.
Dog fighting: An illegal blood sport that pits dogs against one another for spectator entertainment, and often betting. The sport was popular in England in the 1700s, and many modern breeds were developed from these fighting dogs' lines. Fighting dogs are trained, and genetically predisposed, to fight to the death, rather than to display normal submissive signals that would allow two dogs to resolve a disagreement quickly and safely.
Leghold trap: The steel-jaw leghold trap is most often used to trap wild animals who are killed for their fur, such as bobcat, lynx, wolf, coyote, fox, beaver, muskrat, mink and otter. Trapped animals usually do not die instantly, and are left to suffer intense pain, exposure to severe weather, predatation by other animals, psychological trauma, dehydration and starvation. Leghold traps are indiscriminate - capturing any animals that trigger them including threatened and endangered species, raptors (such as eagles and hawks), and domestic dogs and cats.