Prophet (peace be upon him) taught that harming, abusing or beating animals was a sinful act and caused the displeasure of Allah. However, protecting animals, showing mercy and kindness to them were good actions, which God would reward.
He (peace be upon him) said that a Muslim was responsible for the care of animals, so much so that an ill-treated animal will testify against the one who abused it on the Day of Judgment.
Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade people to capture birds, burn anthills, and beat animals. He also forbade the taking of animals as target and taking their life for mere sport.
He (peace be upon him) used to praise anyone who showed mercy to animals. At the same time, he would criticize anyone who used to hurt the animals, tire them, or make them carry a heavy load for long periods.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) once said:
“Whilst a man was walking on a road, he became very thirsty. He found a well, climbed down it, drank his fill, and then came out. He then saw a dog panting hard and eating the damp earth. So he said: ‘This dog is thirsty, like I had been.’ So he again went down into the well and filled his leather socks with water. Holding his socks in his mouth, he came out of the well and then gave the water to the dog. Therefore, God thanked the man and forgave him his sins.” The Companions asked: ‘O Messenger of God! Do we really get reward for being kind even to animals?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: ‘There is reward for showing kindness to every living thing.’” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
He also once ordered a man who had taken the chicks of a bird from their nest to return them from where he got them, since it would cause distress to their mother who was trying to protect them.” (Sahih Muslim)
Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by some children who were shooting arrows at a ram, he rebuked them, saying:
“Do not wound the poor animal.” (Sunnan an-Nasa’i)