April is a busy month. Not only is it National Poetry Month, it is also Community Service Month, Stress Awareness Month, Pets are Wonderful Month and it’s the topic of my blog today, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. I love that all of these causes coincide, because pets can be celebrated with all of them! You and your pet can serve the community by bringing joy to Senior Citizens, young patients in a children's hospital, or at a special needs group home. We all know that pets help reduce stress and add so much love to our lives; they deserve to be treasured, loved and protected in return. Sadly, many animals suffer the opposite fate. Let's make Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month EVERY month.
Animal cruelty occurs when someone intentionally injures or harms an animal or when a person willfully deprives an animal of food, water or necessary medical care. Below are some signs that may indicate abuse or neglect:
- Tick or flea infestations
- Wounds on the body
- Patches of missing hair
- Extreme thinness and protruding ribs, indicating starvation
- Animals who are repeatedly left alone without food and water and often left chained in a yard
- Animals who are kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions
- Animals who cower in fear or act aggressively when approached
According to the Human Society of the United States, there is no national reporting system for abuse to animals. However, Pet-Abuse.com has collected statistics on animal cruelty since 2001. As of October 13, 2012 they have 19,517 cases listed on their web site. The following animal abuse stats for the U.S. are from their database:
Top 5 Types of Abuse
32% neglect or abandonment
Most of these forms of violence are directed toward dogs, cats, and horses and are self-explanatory. However, hoarding, though not new, is on the rise as a more drastic form of neglect. With hoarding, animals are collected to a point that their owners cannot physically keep up with, or afford to care for them. Another lesser known risk for animals is living in a home where domestic abuse occurs. The chances they are abused willfully, or become accidental victims, are over 60%.
There are many things you can do to help create awareness of animal cruelty in your community. Here are a few examples for you to try:
- Go Orange for Animals - Show your support by donning the ASPCA signature color, putting out orange ribbons and encouraging a local school or YMCA to participate. Teach your child what they can do to help animals and urge your local schools or after school programs to integrate humane education curricula...better yet, volunteer to bring an animal to your child's school and teach the curriculum from a local ASCPA facility.
- Help raise funds and awareness by participating in an ASPCA event, such as a bike ride or marathon. Go to www.teamaspca.org to learn more.
- Establish a dedicated squad of animal cruelty officers or volunteer to work with your community's police officers. If you live in New York State, become an ASPCA HLE Agent. The ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Division investigates 400 to 500 cruelty complaints a month, which result in approximately 100 arrests per year. The position of HLE Agent at the ASPCA is prestigious and highly sought-after. ASPCA's HLE agents have investigatory and arrest powers in the entire state of New York.
- Report internet sites that promote cruelty, including fighting, to the FBI.
- Report concerns about a questionable animal breeder by contacting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Report animal abuse to your local ASPCA. Without you, most animals would remain in abusive situations, unable to defend themselves. You are their voice. When reporting abuse, follow these simple steps: Write a simple, factual statement of what you observed using names, contact info, dates and times; provide photographs if possible. Let officers know you are serious and willing to lend assistance. Keep a record of who you spoke with about the abuse, as well as any documents you provided; make sure to follow up.
And now, to tie this all in with National Poetry Month, I give you this rather Shakespearian verse of Susanna Strickland Moodie's (803-1885) -- The Dying Hunter to his Dog:
"Lie down -- lie down! -- my trusty hound!
Death comes, and we must part --
In my dull ear strange murmurs sound --
More faintly throbs my heart;
The many twinkling lights of heaven
Scarce glimmer in the blue --
Chill round me falls the breath of even,
Cold on my brow the dew;
Earth, stars, and heavens, are lost to sight --
The chase is o'er! -- brave friend, good night!"