Animal cruelty occurs on a daily basis, often in our own neighborhoods. Although April was Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, it is important for animal lovers to be alert all year long to situations that may be animal neglect or cruelty.
Last week, we discussed deliberate mistreatment of animals, but neglect is not always blatant, physical mistreatment that is videotaped and sold for profit.
It happens in back yards and behind closed doors. Fur often hides the bruises from physical abuse. Neighbors may think that something seems wrong, but they are afraid to get involved, and they rationalize that behavioral signs such as aggression or fear don't always mean abuse. That is true, but there are definite signs that usually indicate abuse or neglect:
*Extremely thin animal
*Caregiver striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal
*Wounds or sores on the body, patches of missing hair, signs of inadequate grooming
*Flea and tick infestations
*Dogs who are repeatedly left alone, without fresh food and water, and often chained outside
*Dogs who are left outdoors without ADEQUATE shelter in extreme weather conditions
*Animals who cower in fear or act aggressively when approached by their caregivers
All of us need to report cruelty or neglect when we witness it. It is important to provide as much information as possible, so document the cruelty that you saw with time, and date of the incident, where it took place, and who was involved. Details are needed for an investigating officer to follow up.
There are also subtle forms of neglect that may not involve physical mistreatment. In addition to food and shelter, animals are social beings that need companionship. They enjoy interacting with their caregivers, and although they are not humans, they experience many same emotions such as jealousy, loneliness, boredom and resentment. Companion animals are lifelong commitments, and should not be treated as disposable property. If you have pets of your own, make sure that you give them the care that they deserve.
* Be responsible and have your animals spayed or neutered, and take them for regular vet checkups. *Talk to your children about the importance of treating animals with kindness and respect, and encourage them to report any acts of cruelty that they witness.
*Support your local shelter or animal rescue organization. Volunteering is a great way to make a difference in the lives of needy animals.
*If you are ready to make a forever home for a furbaby, consider allowing a shelter dog to rescue you.
I rescued a human today. Her eyes met mine as she walked down the shelter corridor. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, but not too wildly, because I didn't want to frighten her. As she paused in front of my kennel, I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage, because I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter workers have too much to do and just don't have time. As she read the card on my door, I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I live in the present and look forward to making a difference in someone's life. When she got down on her knees, I pushed my face up against the bars to comfort her. As a tear fell down her cheek, I realized just how badly she needed me, so I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so big that I instantly jumped into her arms, promising to keep her safe. It was so fortunate that she came past my cage. There are so many more out there who haven't been saved, but at least I could save one. I rescued a human today.
Larsen can be contacted at Paw Prints, Box 373, Newell, Iowa 50568 or by e mail at email@example.com.