Tuesday, April 28, 2015

PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS - PART 1



Every day furry innocents are harmed in some reprehensible way.  It is done by humans, who are often credited to be the more evolved, therefore better, species.  Since the beginning of time man's inhumanity to the creatures of this earth has abounded.  The forms of abuse are many and the stories are legendary.  This month is “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” month, a perfect time for each of us to stand tall and defend the defenseless.  We know that it is impossible for one person to right all the injustices done to all the abused creatures in this world.  Nevertheless, it is our duty to help put a stop to it.  If one voice can speak up, if one person can do one action and help one animal, imagine what a hundred voices can do, what a thousand actions can accomplish. 

There are many who are unaware that they are inflicting any harm.  Typically, the cruelty involves neglect and usually arises out of ignorance or indifference to the animals’ suffering.  A person who leaves an animal outside all day during extreme heat and forgets to fill the water bowl would be an example of this.  Hoarders are another type of “unintentional” abuser.  They have no real awareness of the extreme misery they are inflicting on the animals they claim to be helping.  Intentional abuse is another matter, entirely, and recognizing it is a “no-brainer”.  Some examples of these abusers are the ones who torture and maim for enjoyment, or the abusive spouse who harms the family pet to keep everyone in line.

The California penal code prohibits maliciously and intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding, or killing an animal.  It also prohibits an animal from being deprived of proper food, drink, or shelter and protection from the weather, and riding, overworking, or using an animal when it is unfit for labor.  Another statute prohibits leaving an animal in an unattended car under conditions that endanger its health and well-being.  California law also prohibits additional conduct that qualifies as animal abuse.  Some of these specific laws address: poisoning animals, transporting animals in an inhumane manner, the conditions of animals sold in a pet stores and the confining of animals in such a manner that they become entangled or injured and/or have no access to food or water. 

In order to be proactive in abating cruelty, be aware of what it looks like.  Learn the numerous signs indicative of animal abuse.
Notice if an animal has a severely matted and filthy coat, and if its fur is infested with fleas or ticks.  Check if the animal has open sores, multiple healed or untreated wounds, limps, or is unable to stand and/or walk normally.  Observe if the animal’s overall health is poor and if it is grossly underweight with bones clearly noticeable.  Discern if there are untreated conditions that have caused rashes, large patches of lost hair and bumpy, scaly skin.

If an animal is consistently outside in all types of weather without an obvious source of food and/or water and protective shelter, and appears to be either aggressive or fearful, it may be abused.  Be aware that behavior, alone, may not be truly indicative of cruelty.  Animals may exhibit actions not considered normal for a variety of reasons other than abuse.  If the animal is kept in an area littered with feces and garbage, or housed in something too small for adequate movement, or the guardian is often seen physically hurting it, then the environmental factors reinforce the emotional indicators of abuse.

Animals abandoned in yards are unfortunately too common an occurrence.  If a neighbor has vacated a location leaving animals caged or tied without access to sufficient food, water, and/or shelter it is abandonment, another form of abuse.

If a person accumulates multiple animals, far beyond what is allowed in city/county limits, and fails to provide adequate care leading to dehydration, malnourishment, and/or death it could be indicative of animal hoarding. 


Albert Schweitzer stated, “Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives.”  Cruelty to animals not only erodes the fabric of society but also jeopardizes our own personal safety.  Recognizing animal abuse is an important first action.  Next week I will discuss what you can do to “Prevent Cruelty to Animals”.


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