Thursday, November 6, 2014

Animal Abandonment Is A Community Problem


Imagine a harsh environment without adequate shelter, food, and water.  Chances are that, if dumped there, you would die without knowing survival techniques.  Yet, every year for hundreds of animals in Tehama County, the scenario of being discarded in unfamiliar terrain occurs.  

In 2013, the Tehama County Animal Care Center (TCACC) had 1459 stray animals brought in (dogs, cats and livestock) either by Animal Control or County residents.  Owners only claimed 299 of these animals.  Thus far, in 2014, 1105 stray animals have arrived, of which owners have claimed only 215.  Be aware that these figures do not include other non-stray animals brought to the shelter on a consistent basis, nor do the figures include animals the shelter does not receive, such as those found deceased, feral populations and other animals discovered but not reported.  These figures are staggering, especially with the knowledge that our County facility has, for both intake/quarantine and adoption, a total of 48 dog kennels and 26 cat enclosures. 

When a caretaker of an animal leaves an animal without intending to return for it, and makes no provision for its care, the action is defined as ‘abandonment’.  Animal abandonment is a serious abuse/cruelty issue and its results can affect not only the animal but also the community.  

Numerous studies have shown that those who abuse animals are more likely to commit violent acts against people.  Last month the FBI made animal cruelty a Group A felony.  This new category will aid in searching-out pet abusers since law enforcement agencies will be required to report incidents and arrests in four areas of animal abuse, among which are simple or gross neglect under which abandonment falls.  

In addition, the law recognizes abandonment as animal cruelty and can convict accordingly, regardless of the reason for doing so.  According to California’s Penal Code, if convicted of misdemeanor abandonment a person can face up to one year in county jail and a maximum $20,000 fine.  However, finding the owner to prosecute is often difficult.

One of the many excuses given for not bringing an unwanted animal into the shelter is that they will automatically kill it once the mandatory hold period is completed.  TCACC does not have “time limits” for adoptable animals.  Only after intense consideration of factors such as life threatening illness, extreme medical problems, and/or unprovoked aggression is the decision made to euthanize.  

For most, the wish is to provide every pet a good long life.  Unfortunately, the reality is different.  Rather than allow an animal to suffer slowly by starvation, dehydration and/or injury and illness because of abandonment, euthanasia by injection is the more humane way for an animal to die.

A person, for many different reasons, may no longer want to or be able to take care of an animal.  The purpose here is not to dispute the motives, but to help the animals.  If you suspect animal abandonment in the city limits of Red Bluff, call the Red Bluff Police Department (530-527-3131).  In the city limits of Corning, call the Corning Police Department (530-824-7000).  Anywhere in Tehama County other than the above locations, call the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office (530-529-7900 ext. 1).

We, as a community, can help.  We can strive to increase community resources for those who abandon their pets because of financial need or personal situations.  

We can volunteer to assist organizations expand and develop programs that provide low cost food and medical care for pets that some simply cannot afford.  

We can help provide needed assistance to seniors so they can keep their beloved companions.  

We can be willing to foster and provide temporary pet care so that guardians with illnesses and domestic abuse victims can receive the assistance they require without relinquishing their pet.  

We can refuse to purchase puppies and kittens from irresponsible 'back yard' breeders.  

We can prevent unwanted litters by spaying and neutering our own pets.  

We can work with neighbors to establish ‘Trap, Neuter and Release’ (TNR) feral cat programs in local communities.  

We can write to the Tehama County Board of Supervisors to request their assistance in allotting funds for a spay/neuter program to curb pet over-population.  

We can report abandonment to the appropriate authorities.  

We can volunteer, foster, and adopt at our local shelter.

Pet abandonment is a large problem in Tehama County.  We, as individuals working together, can solve large problems.  It is time for us to solve this one.




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