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Help End Animal Cruelty

Updated on November 17, 2016
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Shed Light On The Dark Side of Animal Husbandry

You take it in stride because, unfortunately, it happens with some regularity. Besides, you just want to help; not get involved in any confrontations. You hope he’s bluffing but you worry that he’ll make good on the threat.

You're a volunteer at an animal shelter that's at capacity and a call came in from a guy who needs to relinquish a pet. You told him that the shelter is full and just can't take the animal at this time. "Well, I guess I'll just have to dump it out in the woods," he threatened.

That happened to a volunteer at a local cat shelter and she said it wasn't the first time. I'll bet it won't be the last, either. I'll also bet shelter personnel everywhere, who read this, are nodding their heads in agreement.

"First is missing cats," she said in an email to me. "People have to be educated about keeping their kitties inside, what with all the predators roaming about these days," she added. Realistically, predation is just one of the concerns that have to be kept in mind.

It's true that coyotes will take cats, as will foxes, fishers, hawks, and at night, owls. But other concerns include traffic, diseases and parasites spread by feral animals, and individuals who will do them harm.

Lost animals brought to a shelter keep workers busy, but it’s relinquishments and especially abandonments, that volunteers get emotional about. Common reasons for relinquishment include: "moving and can't take the pet with us" or "new landlord won't allow pets."

Some pet owners will make a sincere attempt to find a home, but shelter personnel see all too many relinquishments that are done with a discouragingly casual attitude. The heartbreaking reality is that pets can be "throw-aways" to some people.

"It should be stressed once again the importance of spaying and neutering your furry friend," says the volunteer. While more and more pet owners are having their dogs and cats altered, a surprising number of them don’t.

If more spay/neuters were performed, there'd be fewer animals to have to find homes for, and fewer that would be relinquished or abandoned. Shelters can often help pet owners find low cost spay/neuter programs.

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I owned a feed and grain store and often got to see first hand the good, the bad, and the ugly of animal husbandry. I remember the time in the late 90s that a young girl came into the store after school one afternoon.

She was about nine or ten years old and had a young dog in tow, secured with a length of chain around his neck. She had found him tied to a tree in the woods near home the previous afternoon but assumed that the owner was nearby "bird-watching or something," so she didn't do anything.

When he was still there the next day, she didn't know what to do, so she brought him into the store because this was where her parents came for products and advice. He was adopted by a customer on the spot.

Another time a lady came in to buy a dog collar. She had a six or seven month old chocolate lab in the car and related the following story: she was driving along a fairly secluded road in our city, some distance behind a car when she saw the unthinkable: the car slowed down just a bit, a door opened, and the dog was tossed out. The car sped off with the dog in pursuit.

The lady, a regular customer with two dogs of her own, took off after them. When the dog gave up the chase, she stopped and picked him up. She kept the dog. I gave her the collar. He turned out to be a great dog. It makes you wonder how people can do those things.

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It’s encouraging that many jurisdictions are now imposing heavy penalties for animal cruelty and abandonment, some to the point of making those actions felonies. In Massachusetts, where I’m writing from, it can be inconvenient and expensive to abandon an animal.

Conviction for animal abandonment can cost you a year in jail and up to $1,000 fine...per animal. If more people were aware of that, it might make those inclined to do so think twice about dropping that box of seven kittens on someone’s doorstep.

There are things you can do to help get that word out. First, find out what the penalties are in your state for animal cruelty and abandonment. Armed with that information, write letters to the editors of local newspapers encouraging people to do the right thing when it comes to their pets.

If you’ve got a little skill with desktop publishing programs you can make up flyers and ask to leave them on the bulletin boards at veterinary clinics, shelters, supermarkets, pet supplies stores, dog parks and anywhere else that animal owners frequent.

Perhaps you could coordinate a program between your local shelter and council on aging that would make unwanted pets available to seniors. Many older folks suffer the loss of a beloved pet, would love to get another, but just don’t have the patience to deal with a puppy or kitten.

Information can be a powerful weapon in the fight against cruelty to animals, and it’s within everyone’s power to help get that information out.

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    • vegaswriter profile image

      vegaswriter 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Great Hub! It is true that people try to pin the guilt on you for what they are about to do next if you don't or can't take care of their 'problem' for them.

      Another thing that should be stressed is education and being informed before getting a pet. Breeds have specific traits that may or may not be a match for someone and mixed dogs the breeds involved should be looked into.

      For example, when the girl on 'Teen Mom' Farrah (?) got rid of one mixed puppy for being 'too much' and being difficult for her to potty train and such, getting a French Bulldog puppy on impulse instead of a fish shortly after during a trip to the pet shop was a REALLY bad idea.

      The first puppy appeared to just lack proper training on her part from what I saw so she next moves to a breed that IS actually harder to handle and is known to have brought a trainer or two to tears (so the joke goes) without learning anything about them first.

      Not that I was an avid watcher but I haven't watched since that show. I wonder how things are going.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image
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      Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Thanks for stopping by vegaswriter. You're right, people need to do their homework before acquiring a pet. It's such an easy thing to do on impulse, but reality sets in very quickly.

      Most shelters are very good at screening potential adopters, but I'm not so sure about pet stores. At the store I owned, we sold baby rabbits and, from time to time, kittens.

      The kittens would come from a home where the resident cat had a litter and homes couldn't be found for them, or perhaps a feral cat had a litter in a garage or shed and the family intervened and raised them to adoptable age.

      We would get them vet checked, vaccinated and de-wormed, then we'd adopt them out with a low-cost spay/neuter certificate good at the local vet clinic that did our kitten exams.

      We didn't do as elaborate a screening as a shelter, but we did screen folks and did turn some away, but it was always amazing to see customers who came in for a bag of bird seed or lawn fertilizer and be smitten with a kitten and want to take one home. Although we never let that happen, another store might. People sure were willing to let themselves get sucked in though.

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