We have a 2-year old goldendoodle affectionately known as “Sir Riley Flannigan.” Flannigan for his apricot color, Riley’s a mix of poodle and golden retriever that’s taken a place in my life and heart I could never have imagined.
My family had outside cats and dogs when I was growing up on the farm, but until Riley (who doesn’t shed), my allergies kept me from owning an animal as an adult. Now, sharing every day with such a loving, sensitive, energetic, and smart dog that has comforted me through sadness and sickness– I can’t imagine what kind of person could harm or hurt any companion animal.
We know animals love and remember us, and feel pain and fear. Their eyes and expressions tell us what they can’t say. They’re companions who watch over and protect us. Dogs, in particular, give many humans a new “leash” on life—they guide the blind and visually impaired, improve the lives of autistic children, save diabetics, and give independence to people with disabilities and veterans.
There’s no question our pets miss us when we’re gone—watch Bugaboo show and tell his owner, Lieutenant Gary Daughtery, how happy he is to see him after six months overseas:
Honestly, the many types of animal abuse and cruelty—what we know, see, read and hear about—can be overwhelming. I sometimes turn away from TV ads and scroll quickly past Facebook posts because they get to me. And I feel pretty helpless to stop all the abuse. There are a lot of issues to tackle.
- Commercial breeding and puppy mills that put profits ahead of animals’ well-being
- Animals used in research even when they don’t provide useful information
- Entertainment animals abused or exploited
- Dog Fighting Rings even though it is illegal
- Farm animals needing protection from inhumane care and practices
- Domestic violence perpetrators injure, maim or kill their victims pets to psychologically control and silence them—more than 70 percent of victims
How do we move past anger and overwhelm about how animals are treated to help save them? We can start with what we see every day and be their voice—using our passion to take action.
Learn and Recognize Signs of Pet Abuse
Pay attention to the animals around you. Are there any dogs you’ve seen chained up for hours on end? Have you ever walked your dog and witnessed another aggressive, out of control one? Or gone by a house where there are so many animals you worry about their care? These could be signs of neglect or violence.
- Neglect is denying an animal adequate food, water, shelter (a dog house), medical care (injuries left untreated), clean area, socialization (is the animal aggressive or timid when approached by owner), or chained up in a yard.
- Violence is deliberately torturing, beating, or mutilating an animal.
Speak Up: Report Abuse
Almost all acts of animal violence or neglect are punishable by law. While animal cruelty laws vary from state to state, 49 states have laws that contain felony provisions. (South Dakota is the only one that doesn’t). Be prepared: Search online at Pets911 or PetFinder’s database to find a local animal control department, animal shelter or humane society in your area—and program the number into your cell phone.
If you suspect abuse or neglect of any animal, report it to your local police department or area animal control agency. If you’re traveling, call the local police department (911).
If you know of dog or cock fighting, call The Humane Society hotline at 1-877-TIP-HSUS and report it.
Donate—Support Organizations Working to Stop the Abuse
According to the ASPCA, every 60 seconds an animal is abused. Put your money where your heart is, and give for the education, protection, and care of animals. (Consider an ongoing monthly gift.) If you don’t know where to start:
- American Humane Association
- Animal Legal Defense Fund
- Animal Rescue Corps
- Best Friends Animal Society
- Born Free USA
- Performing Animal Welfare Society
- Pit Bull Rescue Central
- The Humane Society of the United States
While animal issues may seem staggering and even depressing, you and I can take action to make life better for them—to end suffering and save these amazing creatures, one by one. And the next time I sit with Riley or get a doggie kiss, I’ll feel good knowing I’m doing something to help precious creatures like him.