Animal Abuse In America

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I have anxiously awaited the writing of this post. Although many statistics, information, and ideas come about with this subject, I’ve postponed writing until the right words could shine through.

Chances are, the people reading this are not the ones abusing and neglecting animals. However, those reading this are still impacted by animal cruelty. The disgustingly horrific photos and videos that are seen on television, the internet, and in the news, often leave animal advocates and animal lovers disheartened. There is no harsher feeling than seeing an animal being tortured, knowing that animal abuse exists, and having no idea what to do about it or where to go.

Here are things that everyday people like you and me can do to help prevent and potentially stop animal abuse.

ANIMAL ABUSE IS:

The legal definition of animal abuse is the crime of inflicting physical pain, suffering or death onto a tame animal, beyond necessity for normal discipline. It can include neglect that is so monstrous that the animal has suffered, died, or been put in imminent danger of death.

Animal abuse is commonly known as cruel acts and neglect. Psychological terror and torment is also a form of animal cruelty, for example: the constant creation of fear by the owner to the animal.

Physical abuse such as burning, cutting, using excessive force on an animal

Psychological torture such as routinely performing an act which knowingly creates fear for the animal with the intention of scaring the animal (for example: holding an animal out of the window of a moving vehicle.)

Neglect, such as withholding food, water, shelter, basic grooming needs, or medical care (often found in hoarding situations)

Are all forms of animal cruelty.  

 

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Below is a chart defining the frequency and types of REPORTED animal abuse cases in the United States in 2013.

 

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A quick mention on obesity in the US: A stagggering number of American pets are obese. Although this is not a direct form of abuse or neglect, obesity can and often does create many health challenges for the pet and can and often does, limit the animals life longevity, and health. Routine exercise is an essential need for many animals.

THE PROFILE OF AN ANIMAL ABUSER:

Animal abusers find all kinds of different and sick ways of harming an animal.  For whatever illogical reason, these types of people do not see anything wrong with their actions or behaviors. Common traits include:

  • May perform acts of cruelty or torture for religious, cultural, or artistic reasons.
  • Most likely have psychological/ personality/sexual disorders. Antisocial personality disorder in particular revels the highest incidents of intentional animal cruelty according to Psychology Today.
  • Likely to be impulsive, selfish, controlling, attempts to be intimidating, and shows great lack of remorse
  • May have been a victim of violence themselves or have been witness to violent/abusive acts
  • Highly likely to be domestic abusers as well. 71%- 88% of abusers were abusive towards spouse and/or children as well
  • Predominately men under 30 years old and women over 60 years old

 

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Example:

A woman you work with often comes to work bruised. She admits that she and her children are a victim to domestic violence by her husband. Given the woman’s testament, would you consider her dog to be safe in the household as well?

WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT:

Learn the signs of animal abuse.

Notice your surroundings and environment on a daily basis. Some signs of abuse and neglect are quite evident. However be careful in drawing assumptions.

Example: “Every time I drive home from work, I notice my neighbor’s dog outside. The dog is outside from the time I drive into work and from the time I drive home.”

The owner may have brought the animal indoors between these two times, however since you are at work, you are not able to see that fact. When presenting an accusation of animal cruelty, it is imperitive that your observations/facts be concrete enough to stand up in court.

Gather evidence if possible.

Create a record or log documenting what you see on a daily basis, the animal’s location,  health condition (skinny, dirty, mange-like, etc), living conditions (no shelter, living in feces, etc) Take photos if possible. In general, it is not wise to confront the animal abuser yourself. Law enforcement personnel are trained to deal with situations such as this, because remember; animal abusers may also be violent towards human beings as well.

Don’t be afraid to speak out against the abuse

Even if it means continuous phone calls to law enforcement or someone else of authority. Even if they don’t seem to care (they could be animal abusers as well) Keep placing complaints, making phone calls, and advocating for the animal.

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Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Pexels.com

 

If your local authorities are not being responsive, call:

PETA at 757-622-7382 or,

the Animal Humane Society at 612-772-9999 email: investigations@animalhumanesociety.org

Call your local animal shelter

In some U.S. states such as New York and Texas, dialing code 311 will put you in direct contact with someone who can help with animal cruelty.

If you are witnessing animal cruelty as it is happening and the animal’s life is in imminent danger, call 911.

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IN THE UK:

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If you have viewed animal cruelty on the internet, click here to report it. You can also click here. You may need the direct video link when reporting or in some cases, the IP address of the website. In order to assist law enforcement, this link allows for easy look-up of the website creator’s contact information.

Be active with your local animal shelter

This seems a very after-the-fact avenue and for the most part that is true however the local animal shelter is where many neglected and abused animals end up. Many of these shelters are non-profit and depend solely on contributions made by their community to care for their animals. Help the relief effort by volunteering with your local shelter or providing donations if possible.

Encourage tougher animal cruelty laws in your local legislation

Which could mean organizing a citizens’ initiative/petition or writing your local representative and advocating for tougher animal rights laws.

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Right now in Denver, CO, efforts are being made to legally prohibit convicted animal abusers from ever owing an animal again. Similar legislation exists in California.

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Although many US states have felony laws for animal abuse, SOUTH DAKOTA is one of the US states WITHOUT felony-level animal cruelty laws.

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Education

Educating youth on proper animal care can prevent animal abuse in the future.

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Not everyone understands that animal abuse is NOT okay. 

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The Alaskan Malamute

Picture of an Alaskan Klee Kai
Photo cuterstesy of nextdaypets.com

The Alaskan Malamute is a working dog which had been bred to perform specific dog sledding tasks. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when the breed began. However, upon Russia’s discovery of Alaska in 1741, tales of the “Alaskan Arctic Sledge Dogs” arose.

Mushing (dog sledding) was and sometimes still is a necessary method of transportation in the arctic circle and frozen tundras of the world’s northern landscapes. Without roads, vehicles, access to gasoline, and intense ever-changing weather, sled dogs were the only opportunity for Alaskans to provide transport, gather resources (food and supplies), trade, haul heavy freight, and network with other Alaskans.

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The native Innuit, Mahlemut tribe (now Malamutes) of Alaska, were the first peoples to be seen “using dogs to haul sledges.” Their dogs were described as affectionate, beautiful, fine, powerful looking, enduring and tireless by the white people who came across them.

Photo curtesy of alaskanmalamute.org

The Alaskan Malamute became recognized as its own breed in 1935. Many dog sled racing records are held by Malamutes as opposed to similar breeds such as the Siberian Husky, Samoyed and Eskimo dog who would engage in racing tournaments as well.

The Malamute is typically wolfish grey with black or white, with white being seen on the underbelly, legs, feet, face and sometimes forehead. Although rare, an all white Malamute can be seen as well.

Malamutes are considerably denser than other sled dog breeds. Their coats are often heavier, and bodies are more hefty and heavier. They are deep-chested and have a smooth gait, with a large, fluffy curled tail.

Their average height is around 23- 25 inches and can weigh between 75 to 85 lbs. Malamutes typically have brown eyes and are not to be confused with their blue-eyed cousin the Husky. Their dense, heavy coats make them unsuitable for warm climates, and require a lot of up-keep since they will produce a tremendous amount of hair when shedding.

Overall, the Malamute is a highly intelligent, friendly and affectionate breed that is well-suited for colder climates. Due to their breed origin, they may require a moderate to high level of activity and exercise.

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Animals In Entertainment: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

 

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Scene from the 1964 TV Classic Film Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Montgomery “Wards” Ward is a department store founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1872. In early 1939, one of the store’s catalogue copywriters, who normally wrote descriptions of the stores’ items, was asked to write a promotional short story for the up-coming holiday season. Although the store usually distributed small coloring books for their patron’s children during the Christmas season, those books were purchased through a third-party. Management felt that money could be saved if “Bob” could write a small story for their customers this year instead. The managers had suggested a cheery Christmas themed book, and in particular, an animal as the main character.

The copywriter Robert L. May later gave testament to his attitude towards his life before being given the assignment. “Here I was, heavily in debt at age 35, still grinding out catalogue copies. Instead of writing the great American novel as I’d once hoped, I was describing men’s white shirts. It seemed I’d always been a loser.”

May was in fact a rather sad individual by nature. He had grown up a small and painfully shy Jewish boy from New Rochelle, New York. He identified with underdog characters and in particular, the Ugly Duckling, from the fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen. It was with himself and the Ugly Duckling in mind that he then formed his main character for his new assignment; Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer.

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Snapshot of original manuscript

Many impacts of May’s personal life had shone through in his writing. His daughter, then 4 years old, had been obsessed with the deer at the Lincoln Park Zoo. That asserted for him that his main character should be some type of cold weather hearty deer, since Santa lived in the North Pole.

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The Reindeer (Rangifer Tarandus) became the animal May chose to base his main character off of. It is an arctic and sub arctic terrain mammal. The Reindeer’s conservation status is listed as: vulnerable. 

He would also read drafts of his story to his daughter periodically, to maintain his works’ integrity of capturing a child’s interest.

He created a list of potential names to give to his main character (and Santa’s 9th reindeer).  He settled on an “R” name for alliterative purposes. However it could have also been that it was Robert May’s way of identifying with his down-trodden character.

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You can see how Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was almost Reginald the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

He felt that “Rollo” was too happy of a name for a reindeer facing blatant discrimination, bullying, and more. It was a close tie in May’s list of names between “Reginald” and “Rudolph,” however the name “Rudolph” easily rolled off the tongue.

His wife had also been reflected in his work throughout the development of his manuscript. Rudolph would often cry whole-heartedly at the plight of his life, and his creator did as well. May’s wife had been suffering from cancer during the writing of the children’s book. As Rudolph felt sad, lonely, and short-changed, so did May as well.

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Page 4 of the original manuscript.  Rudolph cries whole-heartedly

When first presented with May’s ideas on the book, Montgomery Ward management scoffed. “For gosh sakes. Bob, can’t you do better than that?,” his manager exclaimed. May approached his friend and co-worker Denver, who worked in the art department. He asked Denver to illustrate parts of his manuscript to re-pitch his idea. Denver’s sketches brought the story to life and at the second look-over, Montgomery Ward management became enthralled with the story. “Forget what I said, and put the story into finished form.,” were the manager’s words described by May in a 1975 interview.

May’s wife passed away in July of 1939, a month before the book was completed. May’s boss had offered to relieve May from his duties of writing in light of the event, but May refused. “I need Rudolph now more than ever.,” he said.

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The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer sold 2.4 million copies at its release. However, being a promotional item for the store, the book had been distributed at no cost. A couple of years later, a small publishing company printed hardcover copies of the book. In that year, another 3.6 million copies were distributed.

Montgomery Ward gave May the copyrights to Rudolph in 1947. In 1948, May’s bother-in-law Johnny Marks wrote song and lyric to May’s story, which would be sung by Gene Autry, and was released in 1949.

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Autographed copy of Mark’s songbook selling for $3,583.09

The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer has been inspiring children for decades to overcome adversities such as physical deformation, prejudice, discrimination, bullying, and more, which was May’s intention when writing the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Appaloosa

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The Appaloosa has been around for a really long time.

As the story goes, the Nez Perce peoples of the American west created this interesting breed. They had lived in the areas of what is present day Oregon, Washington, and parts of Idaho.

But before we get into that, we have to go even further back in time.

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Spotted horses have been around long before houses, and even pen and paper. This cave drawing in France is one of the most highly discussed images. The estimated date of these drawings extend from 25,000 – 15,000 BC.

“Leopard complex” spotting had been seen in horses all throughout Western Europe for centuries. The leopard complex spotting can be seen not only in the Appaloosa, but in the Knabstrupper, and Noriker horse.

We can attribute many early horses of the US to Christopher Columbus, Hernan Cortes, and Hernando De Soto, during their conquest and exploration of North America; Many if not all of American horses derive from those left behind on these expeditions. Afterall, you can’t explore new terrain without a horse, and it’s not like they would sail all the way across the ocean just to say, ” Ah, we made it. Now, let’s go back!”

They totally did some sightseeing and left all kinds of stuff behind on their way out. Which had good and bad effects on the Natives.

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The one great effect it had on the Native Americans was of course, the horse. Many tribes took huge advantage to capturing the new residents. It is said that the large Shoshone Tribe which had a vast territory, would often more than dabble in the art of trade and furnished many North American Tribes with these horses. It was around 1750 when basically every tribe had received horses, which meant the Shoshone had ran out of customers.

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Shoshone Chief Washakie and his tribesmen

The Nez Perce in particular became really fond of their new equestrian friends and became deeply involved with breeding efforts. They were unique in the sense that they were super selective in deciding which horses mated and which ones didn’t. They often gelded the inferior stallions and traded off poorer stock. As a result of the Nez Perce’s breeding efforts, they had incredibly superior horses compared to almost all of the other tribes in North America.

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Photo courtesy of dreamerhorsefarm.com

They lived near The Palouse River in the American West. Palouse is a Native American term for “Something sticking down in the water.” (Like horses do when they drink.) As we know in American history, many Native terms were applied by early white settlers to our nation’s rivers, mountains and more. So when these early whites came across the Palouse region and observed their magnificent horses, they became known as the Apalousey horse which then, later on became the Appoloosa.

The Nez Perce lost much of their Appaloosa stock during the war of 1877. They had created a very swift and intelligent breed which allowed many to escape the white’s hasty “round-up’s.”

The captured horses were sold off to cattlemen. As for their counterparts, The Nez Perce that remained on the newly founded reservations were able to keep a limited number of Appaloosa however if they were inclined to breed, they were forced to breed with only Quarter Horses. The Appaloosa was quickly becoming a lost breed.

It wasn’t until the 1930’s that a resurgence in breeding efforts began. The Appaloosa Horse Club was created in 1938 and still exists today. It’s actually an incredible organization that aims not only to maintain breed but also to educate youth as well.

As a result of the Appaloosa’s varied breeding history, the Appaloosa today can range in physical appearance from stocky, more warm-blooded-like to sleek and racey. They typically range from 14.2 to 15.3 hands and have the signature leopard complex spotting.

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The Appaloosa is a very strong horse that weighs anywhere between 800 to 1,000 lbs. Appaloosa’s are used for stock work, show and even show jumping.

The Appaloosa has also paid it forward in helping the Nez Perce today. Breeding efforts went underway in 1994 in an attempt to make a Nez Perce Horse breed. The modern-day Nez Perce use the Appaloosa in these breeding attempts along with the Akhal-Teke of Central Asia. The Nez Perce today feel very strongly about restoring their strong breeding culture and tradition. They were able to obtain horses of direct lineage from Chief Joseph’s stock which had been kept pure on a ranch in Wallowa Valley. For more information on these efforts, click here.

The Tabby Cat

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The Orange Tabby is seemingly found everywhere. They randomly pop up in litters like a surprise visit from Santa. Like a goose among a bevy of swans, orange tabbies forever stand out.

When digging into the mystery of Tabby Cats, the first necessary mention is that they are not a cat breed!

We often proclaim that, “He/She is a Tabby Cat.” But really what we are doing is simply describing the cat’s color pattern. We follow along with the rest of society, unknowingly asserting this misconception when somewhere in the depths of our mind we know it’s a simple matter of color coordination.

You can see the tabby pattern in a gray color as well, along with brown and creme.

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What’s even more notable is that the signature stripes of the tabby pattern, isn’t the only kind!

Those signature stripes are called Mackerel. Which gives your feline a “tiger” look. This pattern is comprised of long, narrow stripes across the cat’s body.

The Classic Tabby pattern is seen in swirls along the cat’s body. Which can also sometimes look similar to a bullseye and can be described as having a “marbled” or “blotched” look.

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Classic Tabby Pattern

The Spotted Tabby pattern, you guessed it- has spots! You’ll be able to see these round or oval spots even on the cat’s underbelly.

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The Ticked or Agouti pattern is easily seen in the Abyssinian breed. This pattern is slightly less obvious than bold stripes and spots. The actual hair changes color the further down you go. The hair is lightest at the root and gradually become darker nearing the end.

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Abyssinian Cat

And finally, the Patched Tabby pattern. Which can be seen in Torbie cats. This pattern has a distinct color change in large block areas or “patches.”

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Maine Coon Patched Tabby

With all of these colors and variations, how are the Tabby not its own breed? All tabbies are said to have an “M” on their forehead, that counts as a breed standard, right? There has to be some point in history where these cats were known for more than being just a group of patterns. And how is it that Tabby Cats have never lived down their reputation for being alley prowlers, eating out of discarded tuna cans and scrapping out their own place in the world like Al Capone?

A scientific study released in 2017 found that 80% of all present-day cat breeds carry the genetic tabby mutation. The study also found that this split in genetics happened during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. By the 18th century, these coat patterns were found everywhere and were one of the most common color coordinations found on felines.

The specific gene responsible for this genetic mutation is called Taqpep. This gene is not only found in domestic cats but in wild cats as well! Put simply, these patterns and color variations have been passed down for thousands of years and were once incredibly useful camouflage in the wild.

There are many tales as to how these tabbies got their “M.” Although super fun to debate about, it’s origin is as simple as genetics. Similar to having black hair that can be found in many races of various people (Asian, Caucasian, African, and too many more), the tabby’s “M” and their patterns can be found in many cat breeds.

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The Cheshire Cat

As for the Tabby reputation, we can’t help but view them the way we do. If you think back to some of the most popular cartoons like Garfield, Bonkers, Puss ‘N Boots from Shrek, and even The Cheshire Cat; They’re all tabbies! They’re majority orange tabbies being rambunctious and mischievous. What also doesn’t help their reputation is that orange tabbies have been reported to be the second most common cat found in a shelter.

Even though tabby’s are not one singular breed, they can be found in ALL breeds, even wild ones. Which kind of makes up for not having their own page in the breeder’s book, right?

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Black Cats Matter

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For the longest time I thought that Black cats were the least adopted colored feline. It was an idea I had come across long ago, and like many others I chose not to dig any deeper into the subject. Why would I after all? No animal lover wants to hear depressing facts and sad details about a life gone un-loved and cut short.

However, I recently took up the challenge. I rolled up my sleeves and began scanning as much data as possible to get to the root of the issue: Black Cats Matter.

The ASPCA produced data in 2013 which described the intake and outcome of felines taken into shelters across the US. What they found was that the most common color of shelter cats were in fact black.

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It turned out that since the majority of the shelters’ feline population were black colored, black cats were the most frequently adopted. At the same time being the greater majority, more black cats were euthanized more than any other color, which eventually led to the myth that “Black cats are the least adopted” since they were the most often euthenized.

The huge population of black cats in shelters have transformed the way many shelters operate. Many will run discount adoption days for black cats. June and August in particular are popular months for shelters to run these promotion. Some shelters reduce their adoption cost on those days to as low as $10!

The ASPCA’s study showed that the truly less frequently adopted, are actually brown cats and solid orange cats.

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