It’s getting worse. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear some stomach-turning story about animal abuse. Most of us are sickened by such reports. We ask ourselves why these things happen, and we wonder what we can do about it. The answer is simple, although it isn’t always easy – GET INVOLVED! We can begin by supporting our local animals shelters as well as well-run national animal organizations. But beyond that, if we are really going to make a difference, we must be willing to take on this responsibility as individuals.
Silence encourages wrongdoing. When we witness abuse or neglect of animals we need to speak up and put a stop to it. If it is a matter of ignorant neglect, sometimes all that is necessary is educating the persons involved, and perhaps offering help in dealing with the situation. If that fails to correct the problem, or if it is a case of deliberate cruelty or torture, then contact the local authority immediately. Do not wait. The animal is suffering, and your action might mean the difference to it between life and death. If the animal is already dead, you could be responsible for saving the life of another animal by stopping the abuser. In any case, the perpetrator must be held accountable for his actions.
Each of us has the capacity to abate the needless tormenting and suffering of animals. When we read or hear about cruelty to animals, we can take the time to share our outrage with others by writing to local newspapers and television stations, and encouraging others to do the same. If the abuse – in the name of “sport” or “games” or “entertainment” – is somehow encouraged or condoned by authorities, as it is in some states and in some other countries, we can write or call officials there to let them know that such activities are intolerable in a civilized society. We can also work to pass or strengthen laws in our own communities. And we can refuse to attend movies, rent videos, or buy books that portray mistreatment of animals as anything but wrong.
For those who might ask why we should concern ourselves with the well-being of animals, consider this – The kind of monsters who abuse animals will abuse people. Power over the powerless, be it an animal or a person, is addictive to these degenerates. This type of conduct always escalates and the more it is allowed, the more it will increase. So, beyond the obvious moral considerations regarding our stewardship over helpless creatures, the safety of human beings is at stake as well. Both adults and children who commit violence against humans almost always have a history of violence towards animals. Animal abuse is evil, and evil feeds on itself.
A society which tacitly condones mistreatment of animals by looking the other way, invites havoc upon itself. A society without pity and compassion on those who are unable to defend themselves is diminished, and its’ people are impoverished.
Cruelty to animals is generally defined as when a person knowingly or intentionally: tortures or seriously overworks an animal; fails to provide necessary food, water, care, or shelter for an animal; abandons an animal; transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner; kills, injures, or administers poison to an animal; causes one animal to fight with another; or uses a live animal as a lure. Animal cruelty convictions (depending on the state) can result in both fines and time in jail.
If you need to report an animal abuse situation, have as much information as possible, readily available when you call:
- Statement of the problem (include dates and weather conditions)
- Species of animal(s) and how many involved
- Address or directions to location of animal(s)
- Name (if known), address, phone number of alleged owner
- Name, address, phone number of witnesses
- Close-up pictures, if possible, of the animal(s) and living conditions
If someone has abused your own animal, take it to a veterinarian and obtain a written, notarized statement as to the animal’s condition, diagnosis of problem and cause, and how the problem can be corrected.
To report a case of cruelty to animals, call the local animal control or police or sheriff’s department. Also call your local animal shelter or rescue organization to see what help and advice they can offer.