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How to protect pets from animal cruelty

Updated on January 1, 2017
Bob Bamberg profile image

With 30 years in the pet supply industry, Bob's newspaper column deals with animal health, nutrition, behavior, regulation, and advocacy.


Facing The Pain of Animal Neglect and Cruelty

Who would have thought that writing a pet column could get discouraging. After all, pets are fun to have around, greatly enhance our quality of life, and in many cases provide valuable services that technology can't yet provide.

But, alas, the world of pets is not all rainbows, snowflakes and butterflies. I'm reminded, on a near daily basis, of the extreme cruelty towards pet animals that occurs in the United States.

I frequently report on legislation, either pending, adopted or defeated, affecting animals, and I also report on legal action involving cruelty cases.

Reporting on the bad news tends to underscore the contemporary wisdom regarding the husbandry of pet animals. That would be the notion that dogs and cats be kept indoors, or securely contained in the yard, and never be left alone in a parked car.

Most professionals, such as veterinarians, breeders, trainers, behaviorists, and animal welfare organizations, agree that dogs and cats are at serious risk when they're allowed to roam free. In most communities free-roaming dogs are in violation of leash laws, besides.


The risks posed go far beyond those presented by vehicular traffic. Feral and wild animals can kill or inflict injuries to domestic animals that engage them in play or combat, and they can spread disease and parasites as well.

Cats and small dogs are subject to predation by hawks, owls and coyotes. I'm reminded of the guy a few years ago who told me how he watched one of his cats get scooped up, right in front of his shed, by a great horned owl.

At an altitude of about forty feet, either the cat squirmed free or the owl just lost its grip, but the cat plummeted to earth, surviving the fall but smashing its pelvis and suffering serious head and internal injuries. Sadly the cat had to be euthanized. The owl was stalking the property each evening at dusk for several days after that, hunting for cat.

Another risk is from those who would kidnap the animal in order to possess it for themselves. Take the case of a woman from a nearby town. She had let her dog out for a nature call and he seized the opportunity to explore the neighborhood for a few minutes, as he routinely did. She recalls hearing a car door slam and the car driving away, but thought nothing of it. However, her dog never returned.

And then there are the malevolent creeps who will commit acts of unspeakable cruelty against trusting pets. I remember the case of authorities looking for the person responsible for setting a five-month-old, female German shephard/shar pei-mix puppy on fire in South Philadelphia.


Or the case, in Glassport, PA, in which someone set fire to a male cat. His feet were badly burned and his whiskers were burned off. Another sad cruelty case involved the shooting death of a male Labrador mix in Serene Lakes, CA. A detective investigating the case said that the dog was fatally wounded by a pellet gun using a 77-caliber pellet.

Halloween can be a time when people so inclined will harm pets, rationalized as part of the mischief that “trick or treat” can spawn. When I was a young child back in the 50’s, there were whispers that a neighborhood bully tied two cats together by their tales and draped them over a clothesline, delighting in the combat that resulted. I don’t think anything ever happened to him, either.

From mid-October til Halloween, many shelters will decline to adopt out black cats because there are reports of certain cults engaging in rituals that require the sacrificing of black cats. And the warning always goes out to owners of black cats to keep them safely indoors until after Halloween.


In today’s complex and worrisome world, pets provide a level of peace and comfort for many of us. It’s too bad that we have to worry about simply letting them out of the house for a little while.

While I often expose myself to too much gut-wrenching news, I’m also frequently rewarded with stories of incredible kindness by individuals who rescue animals from heartbreaking circumstances, and about folks who donate considerable time and skills in volunteer service to needy animals. They're the people who know a thing or two about how it sometimes hurts to be an animal lover.

I’ve met many such remarkable people right here in the HubPages community. “Animal people” are special and caring individuals who are just nice to be around. We don’t often consider how much they enrich the lives of others, but after 20 years in the independent retail pet supply business, I’m aware of how much they’ve enriched mine.

Protect your pets. Unfortunately, they need it.

How Protective Of Your Pets Are You?

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    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 5 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi Jaye, great to see you. You'd think that after hearing story after story about such cruelty, you'd harden to it, but for me at least, each story is a little kick in the gut.

      But those are more than balanced by the examples of kindness and love I'm exposed to. Each one of those is uplifting and brings a lump to my throat. I'll bet it's much the same for you.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. Your comments and votes are appreciated. Regards, Bob

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I'm on the same page as Mary, as I'm overprotective of my schnauzer girl, too! She gives me so much joy, the least I can do is take good care of her.

      I cannot bear to read or hear of anyone being cruel to animals. I don't think the laws against animal cruelty are stringent enough in many places. Several months ago I called the police because a teenager down the street (his yard is in sight from mine) was shooting a pellet gun at cats. Other teens were standing around cheering him on. When they saw the police car coming up the street, they all disappeared like smoke. I think the police talked to the boy's father, but that was a waste of time. The man was there when the animal cruelty was taking place and did nothing to stop it. Kids learn from their parents, including bad behaviors.

      Voted Up++


    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 5 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hello Nettlemere, thanks for visiting and commenting. It is a tough line to toe. You want to be informed, yet you don't want to hear the bad stuff, either. But, making people aware of the cruelty is the first step in stopping it. Nice to have you stop by. Regards, Bob

      Hi Maria, a salute to you for taking good care of local dogs. Maybe others in your community will follow your lead. Wouldn't that be wonderful! Thanks for visiting and commenting. Regards, Bob

      Mary, You? Overprotective? Who woulda guessed? :) I'll bet most people are overprotective so you probably have a lot of company. Thanks for stopping by, commenting, and voting. Regards, Bob

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      I had to vote I'm overly protective because my Schnauzer is a part of my family.

      I voted this Hub UP, etc.

    • Maria Cecilia profile image

      Maria Cecilia 5 years ago from Philippines

      in my country taking care of local dogs is a big help already to animal welfare industry, simply because these local dogs are often targeted as food delicacy by some people, that' s a sad reality. very few too chose to take care of local dogs, some people are so overwhelmed with the purebreed. My two loveable dogs are Local dogs, by taking care of them, I know I am somehow helping the Animal Welfare Industry...

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      It's a hard line to toe between keeping informed and getting overwhelmed by the amount of cruelty out there and the number of things that can go wrong for pets, but you're right, it is good to take heart at the positive things people are doing, especially amongst the hubbing community