How did animal cruelty start?

With ignorant, heatrless humans!!
when you get frustrated people with innocent beings they feel powerful and take it out on the nearest defensless animal/person
It likely started at the beginning of time.. People have stupid ideas, people have bad tempers, and people like to dominate those that can't defend themselves.. I can't say what the very first form of animal cruelty was or who did it, but it's likely very very very old.. People have a tendency to be very cruel sometimes...
I consider it animal cruelty to leave a dog tied up outside all the time.. or smacking puppies for licking your legs, or spanking a dog for something that is natural.. So it also depends on your idea of what animal cruelty is..
Through ignorance and the belief that dogs have no feelings at all.
when dysfunctional families did
it started when people started beating animals!
It began when Caine killed Abel.
when god punished the serpent... ^_^
Because people are idiots

They are angry hateful people or worse they just don't care about any one but themselves

But if you go back to the early 1800's it was illegal to beat your horse but you could do what you wanted to your kids.

Not all but some kids were very bad off and they had no protection under the law
History tells us that man first kept animals as companions for hunting. Most likely ancient dog sought out the company of man for feeding scraps and was eventually welcomed as a companion who could be taught things for food. As man settled into small villages, however, he also began to use animals for entertainment as small traveling circuses moved from village to village. At this time circus owners were pressed to earn money for survival and gave less attention to the care of their animals other than for the use of making money. Of course, as time went on the ancient Romans used animals for public amusement in fights to the death.
Just like with child abuse, definitions change as society changes. Just a generation ago it was OK to spank your child. Now because Dr Spock said it is not OK it has become the law of the land that it is a crime to lay a hand on your child.
Likewise a generation ago it was a normal training practice to "hang" a dog (the word is 10 times worse than what the method actually was). Today just the mention of hanging a dog would label a person as a monster.

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