|Our beloved Scarlett was tied up, mauled|
by dogs, and left to starve in an abandoned
house. She found safety because someone
picked up the phone and did something.
As my blood pressure goes through the roof, I remember these are just the idiots who get caught. If we only knew the true extent of suffering endured by Chicago's dogs and cats we would be horrified--all the dogs chained to radiators in dark basements, the family cats tortured by unsupervised children, dogs slowly dying of heartworm, parvovirus, or distemper because their ignorant owners never bothered to provide them routine vet care--even though free and low-cost care is available. My own neighbor once tied his unspayed female cat to a dumpster in the alley overnight hoping that she would get pregnant (and was apparently not very worried that she would be eaten by other animals, tortured by kids, or infected with communicable diseases.) I have been personally involved in the rescue of dogs with kicked-in jaws, split-open skulls, and festering, untreated wounds--all within blocks of my home. Seriously. It makes me want to give up on the human species.
But since I don't rule the world, I've come up with some small tactics we decent folks can use to help stop animal abuse and neglect. Here you go:
- If you suspect someone is involved in dogfighting, make a call. The HSUS continues to offer a $5,000 reward for anyone who leads police to dogfighters. Call 911. Then call your local precinct to follow up. Did they check? What did they find? For more info on recognizing dog fighting go to: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/dogfighting/tips/dogfighting_action.html
- Don't be afraid to gently educate people about responsible animal ownership. Most people really will listen to you if you are respectful and can offer them real solutions--like a ride to the vet or a referral to free training classes for their dog.
- Spend a few bucks. Have you ever seen a man walking a pit bull on barbed wire? A shred of rope? Some tow chain? I have. Go buy this dog a collar and leash. It really is possible that the dog's owner doesn't have access to proper equipment. Someone's dog too skinny? Ask the owner if they could use a little more dog food, and buy her a bag or two. Don't judge. Just fix it.
- Got a neighbor who probably shouldn't have a pet who now has a pet? Appoint yourself that dog or cat's godparent. Ask if you can puppysit from time to time. Offer advice or referrals to low cost vet care/free spay and neuter services. Let your neighbor know that you care about their pet and will be there for it if for any reason they need to get rid of it.
- IF YOU WITNESS ANIMAL ABUSE OR NEGLECT, DO SOMETHING! There's no excuse. Poverty, ignorance, "culture," neighborhood--these are, of course, important factors in why we behave the way we do, but none of these factors makes it ok to abuse or neglect an animal. NEVER TALK YOURSELF OUT OF HELPING AN ANIMAL IN NEED.