by The Albaani Site
After mentioning a number of hadiths which encourage showing mercy to animals, the Imaam said, “Those are some of the narrations which I have come across until now, and they show the extent to which the first Muslims were affected by the directions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم concerning showing gentleness to animals, and in reality these narrations are only a few of many, a drop in the ocean. And in that is a clear clarification that Islaam is the one that set down for people the ideology of, ‘Treating animals with kindness,’ contrary to what some of those ignorant of Islaam think, i.e., that it was something set up by the European non-Muslims, it is, rather, from the manners which they took from the first Muslims, and they then expanded on it, organising it precisely, their countries embracing it, until showing gentleness to animals has become one of their merits today, such that the ignorant people think that it is something particular to them! What deceived them into [believing] as such is that one will hardly see this system implemented in any one of the Islamic countries, and they [i.e., the Muslims] were more deserving of it and worthy of it!
As-Saheehah, 1/1/69, [2/9/567].