Spotting and Preventing Animal Abuse
We at Barkworthies have spent the better part of May (Be Kind to Animals Month) on our blog series about Proper Pet Care. Having covered everything from Pet Nutrition, Pet Exercise and Pet Grooming, we didn’t want to let the month slip by without talking about another important topic — animal abuse awareness.
Acts of animal cruelty are largely silent crimes often going unnoticed. President of the American Animal Hospital Association (AHAA) DVM Gregg Takashima states during his twenty-five years as a veterinarian, many of the cases of animal abuse he has seen were the result of “accidental” neglect because owners “don’t know any better”.
Pleading ignorance is no excuse. Animal cruelty has many forms but they can all be prevented through education about proper care. The first step to educating others is setting a proper example. As a model caretaker, your actions will influence others. Good role models can help reduce abuse among current and future owners alike. Community level activism is one of the best ways to educate others — especially kids. Teaching children about responsible pet ownership at an early age will make them lifelong advocates in the fight against animal abuse. You can always look into volunteering, too. There are opportunities in every community to raise awareness and care for the abused. Contact your local SPCA chapter to find out more.
Unfortunately, abuse is not always obvious. Hoarding pets, starvation and the blatant infliction of physical pain all fall into into the category of abuse. Behavior alone is also a poor gauge of abuse — there are other indicators, though. ASPCA animal behavior expert and certified professional dog trainer (CPDT) Kristen Collins says “the best way to tell whether a pet is being or has been abused is to examine him and his surrounding environment.” Leaving pets outdoors for extended periods can even constitute abuse. Animals require ample shade and/or warmth depending on the season as well as protection from the elements. Don’t hesitate to report abuse if you think you’ve spotted it. Report these crimes to animal control, a local humane society, or the police.
Preventing Abuse from Day One
Responsible pet care begins with where you get your pet. If you do purchase your loved one from a breeder, make sure your pet is coming from a responsible breeder and a loving environment. Animals sold through pet stores and online generally come from abusive “puppy mill” environments.
There are so many animals across the country in shelters waiting for a loving owner like yourself — Barkworthies fully endorses the adoption of animals whenever possible. Withdraw your support from these abusive businesses by adopting from your local shelter instead.
Doing Your Part
Volunteering is a great way to lend a hand in the fight against animal abuse — however political advocacy can help too. Consider contacting your local state and city representatives to make sure they have the concerns of citizens and the animals of their community on their mind. The Humane Society has made a directory of federal and state officials available. From representative directories, advocate toolkits to resources for students, The Humane Society is great starting point for animal rights activists of all ages. Familiarize yourself and teach others in your community how to recognize animal cruelty.
Animals are loving and loyal. And they put their trust their owners for a lifetime — it’s our duty to not to betray that trust.