We cannot protect dogs from being tortured to death when anyone can acquire dogs, and when there exists no serious deterrent to torturing them. Anyone can acquire dogs because dogs are things to acquire, and there is no serious deterrent because serious deterrents are reserved for violations of others' rights. Dogs are not "others"; they have no rights. Vicious circle defined.
Worse, dogs are chattel of the lowest order, manufactured, traded, used, and trashed purely on a human's whim. Like any garden-variety Amazon product. There are no agencies regulating their titles and no safety nets monitoring their care. And if found abused, the victims of cruelty as defined by the law, there are no prosecutorial crusades initiated on their behalf and no sentencing messages from the bench. There is no justice, not even a pretense to justice, because there is no will within society – not at the legislative level, not at the enforcement level, not at the judicial level, and most importantly, not at the people level – to (seriously) punish property owners for committing wrongs against their property.
The animal cruelty reported daily, however, tells but a part of the story. As you read, millions of dogs and cats await death in shelters across America, many, erstwhile "family members" dumped - quite legally - for becoming inconvenient. But equally pernicious is the suffering endured by millions more in homes where the new-pet excitement has long since vanished. There, animals - roughly the intellectual equals of our small children - merely exist, afforded the bare necessities, but denied enrichment, stimulation, love, and affection. Just languishing, for periods measured in years.
Reform - tougher laws, better enforcement - is an untenable position. If I own you, you essentially have no protections. Besides, a closer scrutiny of supposed progress, like "Buster's Law," reveals language extremely difficult to apply: felony "aggravated cruelty" is conduct "intended to cause extreme physical pain or done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner." "Especially depraved" and "sadistic" are intentionally elusive bars; intentionally, because again, despite what we say, we are not inclined to impose hard time for crimes against chattel. Hence, "Buster's Law" is not much more than window dressing: charges are rare, convictions rarer, maximum jail time all but unheard of.
As long as we own them, there is nothing we can do to stop the cruelty. Nothing. And so the question becomes, what price having pets? Are the above and the others we may never know about - dogs who at this very moment are being starved or beaten - to be regarded as collateral damage? In our zeal to preserve a relatively frivolous thing, how many animals are we willing to sacrifice? In the end, it really doesn't matter how many homes are abusive, just that some are; those pets who are loved - whether it's some, many, or most - can't begin to make up for those who are not. With casualties inescapable, how can this decidedly unnecessary "relationship" be justified?
End animal property: Shut the breeders down by refusing to pay for their product, adopt the ones already here, and sterilize - all of them. Imagine a world where sentient beings are no longer bought, sold, dumped, ignored, neglected, abused, assaulted, tortured, and killed. Imagine, progress.