Spread Awareness and Make a Difference
Animal cruelty is always a difficult subject to talk about. There are many forms of animal neglect, cruelty, and abuse, and it happens all over the world. So how do we recognize the signs of abuse, and how can we make a difference?
Know The Laws
Before 1986, there were only 4 states that had laws against animal cruelty. Thankfully now there are multiple laws across all states against it, with punishments continuing to grow in severity.
Animal protection laws usually occur at a state level, with each state being able to enforce their own penalties and laws against animal abuse. All 50 states have at least 1 felony animal cruelty law in place. Counties and cities are also allowed to enforce their own ordinances.
While there are federal laws against these heinous acts, there aren’t as many as you would think. Recently the US unanimously passed a bill called the PACT (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture) Act, which strengthens animal abuse laws and prosecutes those convicted of animal cruelty and abuse. This change has been welcomed nationwide.
Advocate groups such as the ASPCA , IFAW , and PETA , help bring awareness to this type of behavior and combat those who treat animals like property. They fight cruel practices such as overfishing, whale poaching, circuses, exotic animal poaching and selling, puppy mills, animal hoarding, big cat exploitation (think Tiger King), dog fighting, as well as many other domestic and international cases. In addition, there are dozens of organizations dedicated to more specific causes such as monitoring and reporting animal exploitation in the filming industry.
Learn the Facts
While direct violence is the most obvious form of animal abuse, animal neglect is actually the most common type of abuse. Thousands of dogs die each year due to neglect.
The animals whose abuse is most often reported are dogs, cats, horses, and livestock. In the United States there are 900–2,000 new cases every year of animal hoarding alone, with more than 250,000 animals falling victim to this serious mental illness.
In addition, over 115 million animals such as mice, rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, birds, and other animals are killed every year due to testing in laboratories. (Source: dosomething.org .) There are also an estimated 2.2 million puppies sold each year that were bred in a puppy mill (See this older blog post for more info). 25% of those “purebred” dogs will end up in a shelter at some point in their life.
The United States Humane Society estimates that about 40,000 people – if not more – buy and sell dogs for fighting across the country. Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states.
The facts listed above are proof that animal abuse and neglect continue to happen and it comes in many forms. One unfortunate reason abuse is so rampant is because some people and groups view animals as “things” that can easily be thrown away when no longer needed. This is one of the many reasons why education can help.
See the Signs
- A tight collar that has become embedded in the pet’s neck.
- Open wounds that have not been treated, or signs of multiple healed wounds.
- Untreated skin conditions that cause loss of hair, scaly skin, bumps, or rashes.
- Emaciation (the animal has not been fed in quite some time). This may take a couple of months to be fully noticeable.
- Infested with fleas or ticks.
- Extremely matted fur or overgrown nails.
- Weakness, lethargy, and the inability to walk or stand normally.
- Witnessing the owner hitting or physically abusing the animal.
- No water or food.
- No adequate shelter – especially in very hot or cold temperatures.
- Pets or animals kept in an area littered with feces, garbage, or other objects that could harm them.
- Pets or animals are housed in kennels (or cages) that are very crowded or too small and not allowing them enough room to stand, turn around, or make normal movements.
Make a Difference
- Try gathering as much information as you possibly can. Do not put yourself in danger! This means don’t go onto someone else's property or approach a scared or sick animal that you do not know.
- If an animal is in immediate danger, contact your local police department and report the situation or dial 911. If you are in New York City you can call 311.
- If you can, take pictures – but if taking pictures will put you in harm's way then do not do it.
- If you feel like it is a dangerous situation, like dog fighting, you can dial 911, call your local non-emergency dispatch number, or animal control to report the incident and to figure out next steps.
- If you see something, say something! We are the animals' voice, and they need strong people to advocate for them in abuse situations. You could make a difference!
Animal abuse should never happen, but it does. The more educated and aware of your surroundings, the better chance you have of potentially saving a life. We realize this is a tough subject but our hope is that we can bring awareness and give a voice to the voiceless!
Photo by Sasha Sashina on Unsplash.