Many of those who abuse and neglect their companion animals work in animal agribusiness where a total lack of compassion for animals, even pleasure in watching them suffer, prevails. People who spend their days being violent toward chickens and other farmed animals as part of their job often bring the violent culture of their employment home with them.
How many residents know that a Virginia statute titled "Care of Agricultural Animals by Owner" (Section 3.2-6503.1) allows the owners of agricultural animals to deprive their animals of food and water up to the point of starvation and dehydration and exempts the owners from providing bedding or shelter, regardless of the weather, for their animals?
In 2011, I worked on a case in Nelson County, where 25,000 hens were left to starve to death by an owner who suffered no penalty for his cruelty. In January 2014, a resident in Campbell County reported that roosters on a local farm were locked separately in wire pens in freezing winds and snow without any bedding, cover, or perches. The head of animal control was sympathetic, even visiting the owner to urge that straw and covering be provided for the birds, but he explained to me in an email that since the animals were chickens, "no laws are being broken."