By Sari Reis
It is unconscionable that anyone would intentionally or inadvertently hurt or abuse an innocent animal, but because it is so prevalent, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has designated the month of April as Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month with the hope of raising awareness.
Animal cruelty, according to the ASPCA is defined as “acts of violence or neglect perpetrated against animals.” The most obvious and shocking forms of cruelty are physical violence causing bodily harm, injury or death — but cock and dog fighting, chaining an animal outdoors, puppy mills, and animal hoarding all constitute cruelty. Neglect is also considered animal abuse and is more widespread than you can imagine.
Every animal, whether it be a domestic dog or cat, a farm animal or a wildlife creature has the right to food, fresh water and shelter, but there are still many humans who do not consider animals as sentient beings, and as a result, fail to provide these very basic necessities of life.
Animal cruelty and abuse has many faces including certain methods of agricultural farming; the fur industry; animals used in unnecessary experimentation; the annual baby seal hunt in Canada; hunting of wild animals as trophies; the ivory trade; circuses and other forms of amusement that use animals for entertainment; as well as destroying the natural habitats of wildlife. Unfortunately, this list is not definitive.
On the positive side, there are currently 33 states that treat animal cruelty as a felony charge. I am hopeful the remaining 17 will get on board soon. There are many state legislators trying to pass new laws against animal cruelty and numerous agencies are working to fight for this cause and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Besides the ASPCA, there is the Humane Society of the United States, Dumb Friends League, Best Friends Animal Society, PetSmart charities, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Medical Doctors Against Vivisection, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Animal Protection and Rescue League right here in San Diego, along with our local San Diego Humane Society and SPCA.
Today, almost all states have an SPCA that investigates animal abuse and aims to not only end it, but bring the offenders to justice.
The ASPCA gives 10 ways you can prevent animal cruelty:
- Be Aware.
- Learn to recognize animal cruelty.
- Know who to call to report it.
- Provide as much information as possible when reporting it.
- Call or write your local law enforcement department.
- Know your state’s animal cruelty laws.
- Fight for the passage of strong anti-cruelty laws.
- Be a good example for others.
- Talk to your kids about how to treat animals with kindness and respect.
- Support your local rescue or animal cruelty organizations.
I have a few suggestions as well. If you would like more information on what you can do, please contact me.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” If that is true, how is America doing?
—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information, please contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.