The Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion on a hunting trip in July sparked a media flurry and got people clamoring about protection for animals.
Americans are animal lovers. In a recent Gallup poll, 32% of us said we believe animals should have the same rights as humans, and 62% believe they deserve some protection.
I’m one of those people. The story and images of the skeletal 2-year old dog found tied up outside a Georgia church this past weekend made me more than cringe. How can anyone be so cruel and heartless?
When you share your life with animals and they’ve captured a special place in your heart, you care about what happens to them. I know my soft spot for animals has grown exponentially since we got our goldendoodle Riley three years ago. And I can’t imagine what kind of person could neglect, harm, abandon or mistreat any animal.
Animals give us unconditional love and bring joy. They bond with us. They watch over and protect us. We know animals feel pain and fear, and miss us. Their eyes, expressions and behaviors tell us what they don’t have the voices to say.
Dogs, in particular, give many humans a “new leash” on life. They guide the blind and visually impaired, provide comfort for seniors as well as children who are sick or have to appear in court, improve the lives of people with disabilities and autism, can save diabetics, give independence to veterans, and help parolees turn their lives around.
Yet, sadly, according to the ASPCA, every 60 seconds an animal is abused.
THREE WAYS TO HELP
To save animals, we can be their voice, channeling our passion into action.
1) Watch for signs of abuse.
When you’re out and about, do you see animals left in hot cars or dogs chained up for hours? Have you ever walked by a house and seen so many animals you worry about their care? Pay attention for:
- Neglect: When an animal is denied adequate food, water, shelter, medical care (injuries left untreated), clean area, socialization (is it aggressive or timid when approached by owner?), or chained up in a yard.
- Violence: When an animal is deliberately tortured, beaten, or mutilated.
2) Speak up: report animal cruelty.
Almost all acts of animal violence or neglect are punishable by law. Animal cruelty laws vary from state to state, but 49 states have laws that contain felony provisions. (South Dakota is the only one that doesn’t.)
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).
3) Support animal organizations.
Put your money where your heart is, and donate—giving for animal protection and care. (You can even make an ongoing commitment with a recurring monthly gift.)
- Animal Legal Defense Fund
- Best Friends Animal Society
- The Humane Society of the United States
- World Wildlife Fund
I can’t stop all animal abuse and mistreatment. But I can do my part and support dedicated people who are protecting and caring for amazing animals like my Riley. Won’t you join me?
– Candy Culver