The 5-month-old puppy came into the care of Black Dog Animal Rescue, located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in March 2017. The signs of abuse were apparent: more than 20 broken bones, a large, fluid-filled mass on the dog’s neck and shoulders, and her timidity around people. Months of medical and emotional care transpired, and her story took flight thanks to local media and animal advocates on social media. The pit-mix was named Angel; she became the “spokesdog” for advancing stiffer cruelty laws in Wyoming. Angel recovered from all her physical injuries and eventually the happy, friendly puppy-self emerged. She was adopted by one of BDAR’s board members and renamed Stitch. Read her entire journey and see photos and X-rays of her injuries here: http://www.bdar.org/angel/
Although no strong statistics are available on the number of animal abuse cases, which can and often does include the international trade of dog meat and the national issue of horse slaughter, hoarding, dog and cock fighting, and puppy and kitten mills, the issue of animal cruelty exists everywhere. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) documented 29 incidences last year in which they were called in to assist. More than 47,000 animals were rescued or helped in some way last year, and more than 300 criminal charges were filed, according to the organization. Just last week, the organization announced it was helping New Mexico law enforcement with a critical case involving more than 100 animals, many living without shelter and in need of medical care at a supposed animal sanctuary.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month
April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. What can you do to help? Here are five suggestions:
Forms of Abuse
Animal cruelty takes on many forms, from lack of food, water and shelter and violence against an animal (as in Angel’s case) to dog fighting and puppy mills. The dog my husband and I adopted last fall, Jeremiah, is a puppy mill survivor. He and many other dogs were rescued by Hearts United for Animals (HUA), a sanctuary in southeastern Nebraska which, for the past 30+ years, has rescued animals throughout the Midwest. That portion of the country seems plagued with puppy mills, with Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa involved in this industry in high numbers. But, according to the Humane Society of the United States’ 2017 report on puppy mills, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas also have a big issue. That’s why organizations like HUA, which recently helped rescue several German shepherd dogs, and National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR), exist – to provide a sanctuary where these animals can heal physically and emotionally and hopefully find these creatures new, loving homes. Which we’ve provided for our Jeremiah.
Cruelty to animals is not something to be taken lightly. These animals suffer, physically and emotionally, such as children and other people do. Let’s hold abusers accountable and not tolerate the harm they inflict.
Resources on animal cruelty:
Living in the 21st century has many perks, from technological gadgets to how, as a society, we view animals. According to the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of people living in the United States own a pet, with the majority (60.2 million) having dogs and 47.1 million having cats. The organization estimates that nearly $70 billion was spent on pets by pet owners in 2017, up from 66.75 billion in 2016. Americans certainly seem to love their pets!
Still, improvements are greatly needed, especially in the areas of animal adoption and pet ownership responsibility.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly 6.5 million animals enter shelters and rescues every year; they are comprised of owner surrenders, strays, and animals rescued from hoarding, dog fighting, and puppy/kitty mill operations. Only about half are adopted. More than 700,000 strays are reunited with their owners; sadly, less than five percent of the cats that come in as strays are reclaimed, and many of the animals brought in are not spayed or neutered.
Pet ownership responsibility includes caring for one’s animal, providing food, water, shelter, and medical treatment. In addition to vaccinations and teeth cleaning, medical care should include spaying and neutering. Such procedures curb the number of litters born, and therefore, helps cut down on the number of animals needing homes, either through the owner giving/selling the youngsters or taking them to rescues and shelters. Cats and dogs can breed two to three times a year, having an average of six babies per litter. Multiple that out over the course of five to seven years, and you have thousands more animals per unsprayed female. For every kitten or puppy sold or given away by owners, that’s one less adopted and therefore, one more possibly euthanized.
Until there are less strays, less owner relinquishment, more adoptions, and more spaying and neutering, no more animal hoarding or puppy/kitten mills, there will be the need for animal shelters and rescues.
We all can do our part to positively impact responsibility and rescue. Here are some suggestions:
Although America has come a long way since the 1970s when 12 to 20 million pets were killed in animal shelters across the country, there a great need still exists for pet ownership responsibility and, therefore, for animal rescues and shelters. Let’s all do something to help continue the downward trend of euthanasia rates and increase pet ownership responsibility. Maybe one we will realize the #NoKill dream many animal welfare organizations envision – that no healthy, adoptable animal is euthanized – but it takes responsible pet owners to get there.
The pictures we saw appalled and enraged many. Photos of a dog’s mouth wrapped in electrical tape circulated the internet in 2015. A dog named Diamond was found by her previous owner with physical and emotional injuries, and the abuse led authorities to the dog’s then-owner. Charges were filed and the case was soon to come to court. However, according to a recent article by The Doggington Post, the man, 43-year-old William Leonard Dodson was sentence to 15 years in prison on unrelated charges. He may still receive additional time for the abuse afflicted on Caitlyn, who continues to recover in a foster home. Read the full article here: http://www.dogingtonpost.com/caitlyn-the-dogs-abuser-sentenced-to-15-years-prison-on-unrelated-charges/
April is just around the corner, and with it, in addition to the rain showers that can bring May flowers, is the month to bring greater awareness to animal abuse. Known as Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, many animal shelters and humane organizations use this month to educate and inform people that animal abuse is, sadly, still alive and well. Many such cases remind us of that sad fact.
For example, the dog fighting operations led by football great Michael Vick made significant headlines and shown a light on this dark, disgusting trade; a small terrier mix, later named Hazel Grace by her rescuers, was burned with a blow torch – the miracle survivor often acts as a poster child for abuse cases in the Midwest; in Utah, family’s beloved pet cat was tortured to death; and in my state of Wyoming, a dog with broken toes and other injuries was rescued by and received veterinary care by a Cheyenne animal welfare organization.
Experts contend that animal abuse often escalates to violence against people, including domestic violence, homicide, and mass murder.
According to the ASPCA, every 60 seconds an animal is abused. What can you do to help fight animal cruelty? Here are a few ways:
Read more about helping prevent cruelty to animals by visiting this website: https://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/animal-abuse/
Many people stood up for and continue to stand up for Caitlyn. See the inspiring video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTvC1ntqCpI
Be a voice for the voiceless and be a hero to animals like Caitlyn. The more heroes and concerned citizens there are, the more we’ll stop such torture.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.