Animal cruelty is something that is close to many people’s hearts. Many think of it as an abuse that is akin to child abuse, since animals are also defenseless against the hands or neglect of humans.
It tends to rouse similar anger and outrage as well, and there are now many agencies that are set up to help prevent animal cruelty, and also shelters where rescued animals find solace and comfort from their abusive or neglectful environments.
Years ago, there were not even any laws set up to protect animals from abuse, and abusers were able to get away with doing just about anything they wanted without consequence.
Now, there are animal protection laws set up in almost every state, and if you are found guilty of inhumane treatment of an animal, you are subject to anything from fines to community service, to jail time.
While we’ve come a long way in legislating animal protection laws, there is still room for improvement, as they are not stiff enough penalties in most people’s eyes, and it seems that it’s still taken rather lightly.
While I’m not aligned with the extreme mentality of animal rights groups that preach vegetarianism and use tactics that I don’t deem appropriate to get their point across, I certainly admire what they are trying to do, which is drawing attention to the animal kingdom and getting the word out that our furry friends need our help when they do not have a voice of their own to defend themselves.
One can read about stories of inhumane treatment weekly in any newspaper, and some of the stories are enough to make one nauseous.
There are stories of animals left in homes without food or water, in their own waste and crawling with fleas and ticks, stories of farm animals abandoned, neglected, underfed and abused, and horrifying tales of household pets being beaten, starved, deprived of care, and even killed at the hands of the very people who are supposed to take care of them, that all still need to be addressed.
There are some steps you can take to make sure you are not a silent voice in the quest to prevent animal cruelty, you just need to be aware of your surroundings and know what to look for.
You can report any suspicions to the local police, or if you have an agency that works with abused animals, you can call on them to investigate and rectify also, usually the APL (Animal Protective League) and other similar shelters and animal rights nonprofit organizations will be able to help as well.
Some of the signs to look for you may already know, as most people who are animal lovers have a built in instinct for knowing when an animal has been abused or neglected.
Many animals who have been physically abused will be hand shy.
They will not want to come near you or any other person, and may be especially leery of their owners or react in an aggressive way toward them or others.
While this does not always indicate abuse, as some animals are just tempered that way, it is a good underlying factor to look at when determining if an animal has been physically abused.
If an animal has patches of fur missing or looks extremely thin, or even if they are overrun with fleas, this may indicate neglect.
Another one to look for is animals that you see outside on extremely cold days, tied to a chain for hours without any warm shelter.
This is dangerous and can be abuse if the animal does not have a place of shelter to retreat to.
Likewise if they are left chained outside for hours without food or water – water of course being the most vital of the two.
Use your judgment, there are always animals that may be acclimated to certain situations, but if you consistently see this, and are suspicious it may be worth an investigation by an officer of an animal protection agency or the police department.
Of course the most obvious thing to look out for is actually witnessing an act of animal abuse. If you see a person physically assaulting an animal, please make sure you report this immediately, as this is the most blatant and obvious form of animal abuse and certainly warrants a report for investigation.
If we all do our part in preventing animal cruelty, we can make this world a better and safer place for our furry friends who entrust us with their life and well being.