“The righteous care for the needs of their animals…” God didn’t create the animals just for our cavalier use and abuse. The concept of “dominion” in Gn. 1 implies responsibility, and care-taking, much in the way a king is commanded to respect and treat his subjects as brothers and sisters (Dt. 17.14-20). We are not just stewards of creation: we are part of it, and we have an obligation to help show the value of all creation. Humans are separate in value from the animals (Mt. 6.26), but that distinction cannot be absolute, since we all share the same Maker and Provider. Nature and humanity were intended to be interdependent and to coexist. Noah was instructed to preserve species that otherwise would have perished (Gn. 6-8).
Therefore we cannot brush off animal cruelty with nonchalance. Animals have worth and dignity (Ex. 21-22.14; Dt. 25; and here). Even the sparrows are under God’s sovereign care (Lk. 12.6). Animal compassion is part of our privileged role as custodians of the creatures. Our very superiority to the animals ought to motivate us to prove ourselves better than the beasts precisely by our king-like and God-like treatment of them.