All pet animals must be well fed, decently cared for and kindly treated. Allah's Messenger is reported to have said,
A woman was made to enter the Hell-fire because of a cat which she locked up until it died. The woman did not feed the cat, nor did she offer it water to drink, nor did she permit it to roam to eat from the insects of the earth.
Animals must not be over-loaded when hauling goods (on their backs) in such a manner that they cannot bear the load. Animals must not be tortured, hurt or beaten for any reason. Allah's Messenger is reported to have said,
Allah curses a person who burns an animal for marking and tattooing
Islam prohibits people to set an animal as a live target. It is reported that Ibn Omar passed by a group of the Quraish young-men who set a bird as an aiming target. Ibn Omar asked about the person who did so and then commented, "Allah curses the person who does so.
Islam condemns people who mutilate animals after killing them.
Islam also forbids abusing or harming animals as mentioned in the Hadith reported by Ibn Mas'ood : "We were traveling in the company of Allah's Messenger . He went away to answer the call of nature. While he was away, we saw a female bird along with its two little babies. We took the little birds so the mother bird started hovering over us. When Allah's Messenger returned back, he noticed what we had done. He asked,
Who has agitated this (bird) by taking its babies, return its babies to it! And he saw a colony of ants we had burnt so he said: "Who burnt this? We said: We did. He said: "Verily nobody should torment with the fire except the Lord of the Fire.
Islam, furthermore, commands mercy while slaughtering animals for eating. It is not allowed to sharpen the knife in front of the animal to be slaughtered or in presence of the other animals. Nor is it permitted to kill them by breaking their necks, striking them, electrocuting etc. or start skinning them before they are completely dead. The Prophet said:
Verily Allah ordains that you be kind to everything. So if you kill, kill in a good manner, and if you slaughter, slaughter in a good manner. So sharpen your knife to make the slaughtering process easy and fast.
At the same time Islam commands us to kill dangerous and harmful animals and/or insects in order to protect humans from the harm of the animals because man's life is sacred in the Sight of Allah as Allah has made him the most honorable creature on the earth. Therefore, if the animals' rights are important in the Sight of Allah , the rights of the human beings are more so! The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'an:
We have honored the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of Our Creation.
Not only this kind and just treatment is ordered to protect the animals from any cruelty but it also expiates the sins of a Muslim and becomes a reason for him being admitted into the Jannah (Heavenly Gardens). Allah's Messenger is reported to have said:
While a man was on his way, he suffered from a tremendous thirst. So he found a well and descended down the well, drank his fill and came back up. At the top of the well he saw a dog panting and licking the dirt out of severe thirst. The man thought to himself, "this dog must be suffering from the same thirst I suffered from. So he descended down the well again, filled his shoe with water and holding the shoe with his mouth climbed back up and had the dog drink the water. Allah, the Exalted, praised him and accepted his deed (for this act of mercy) and forgave him his sins. They asked: O Messenger of Allah! Are we rewarded for what we do for animals?' He replied: "Yes, indeed. In every living soul there is reward.