The FBI has recently added animal cruelty as an offense in its Uniform Crime Report. Starting next year, animal cruelty will now be classified as a "crime against society."
Previously, animal cruelty crimes were classified under the ambiguous "all other offense" category. The official definition according to the FBI is as follows.
"Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of duty to provide care, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured; transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or injure an animal. This definition does not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport; use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping."
This news is reassuring in light of recent news of a kitten being burned alive in a video posted to Facebook. According to an earlier report from The Inquisitr, a graphic video recording was uploaded to Facebook that shows a kitten being doused in gasoline and then lit on fire.
"No longer will extremely violent cases be included in the "other offense" category simply because the victims were animals. Just as the FBI tracks hate crimes and other important categories, we will now have critical data on animal cruelty," said the CEO of the U.S. Humane Society.
Lobbying for this change began more than a decade ago, but the FBI has only recently adopted these changes. With this change, animal cruelty will be considered a "Type A" crime along with four other categories, including simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse, and animal sexual abuse.
"[Now] they're going to the next level, which is great," law enforcement officer Victor Amato said. "People are taking animal cruelty more and more seriously. It's a violent crime, and if it goes unchecked, it leads to bigger things. An animal is a very easy victim. An animal can't pick up a phone and call 911."
Public reaction to the FBI's decision has been positive, especially by the animal welfare community.
"This is a great step in the right direction," said Annette Laico, CEO of Progressive Animal Welfare Society in Lynnwood, Washington.
The FBI did not officially respond to the news. However, the FBI's animal cruelty changes will be fully implemented by 2012, and data will begin to be processed by January 2016.
[Image via Jennifer Brown/The Star-Ledger]