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.


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.


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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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?


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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If your local authorities are not being responsive, call:

PETA at 757-622-7382 or,

the Animal Humane Society at 612-772-9999 email:

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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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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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 Canary

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Yellow Canary

A Canary is a small bird that is descended from the wild Atlantic Canary. Part of the Finch family; Atlantic Canaries are primarily found in the places they originated: The Canary Islands, Azores, and Madeira. However some were brought by man-kind in the mid 1900’s to the northwest Hawaiian Islands and Bermuda, where they can be found as well.

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Atlantic Canary

A look into the history of the Canary Islands lends a great deal of information as to how these birds became their own “domesticated” breed.

When Roman sailors discovered the islands, there were a tremendous number of wild dogs roaming about a particular island. Therefore, the Romans named the entire chain of islands Canaria. With Canis meaning dog, Canaria means the Great Island of Dogs.

In the 1400’s Spain began their expansion efforts and very soon after they conquered the small Canary and Madeira Islands, (around 1500’s) They began to import it’s small, delightful and bright signing birds.

The little birds of Las Islas Canarias were quickly passed all over Europe. Noblemen and Monks began to extensively breed their song birds and quickly gave rise to 29 different types of domestic Canaries.

Current day Canaries are typically divided into three groups.

  1. Color
  2. Type
  3. Song

Color birds are known for their varying degrees of color. For example, one of the earliest forms of this selective breeding is the Yellow Canary, which dates back to 1670, and is the most common. Colors range from red, white, and orange.

The Type Category is comprised of birds such as the Yorkshire and Raza Esponala. These birds are bred for particular shape and sizes.

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Yorkshire Canary

And finally, Song canaries are bred for their singing abilities. These birds are the most sought after in all of the canary groups. The Harz Roller (German Roller,) The Waterslager (bred in Belgium from Harz Roller lines,) and The American Singer (circa 1930’s) are among the top performing canaries in this category. The Spanish Timbrado is reported to be able to sing a song containing up to 12 notes.

Timbrado Canary
Spanish Timbrado

Which leads to a forgotten history of the Canary. I’ll need the help of world-renowned musician Sting from his former band The Police to help me exemplify this next topic. “You live your life like a Canary in a Coalmine.”

What Sting is referring to in this song dates back to point in our worlds history when Canaries were used in coal mining. Canaries were used primarily in the UK to aid coal miners during their workday. Having a considerably smaller size and higher metabolic rate than their human counterparts, Canaries were placed in mines alongside working men. If any toxic gases had been unknowingly released via the digging process of mining, such as carbon monoxide or methane; the Canary would presumably stop singing and succumb to the toxic gases before the larger-bodied workers. Thus giving coal miners the ability to know of the impending danger and provide time for the men to safely exit the mine.

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Coal Miner and his Canary

A canary can live 15 years or more. They are very friendly, social birds and perfer warmer climates. As with other birds in this variety they enjoy fruit, veggies, and high-protein diets.

A canary is able to contract Cholera, Diphtheria, lice, and eye diseases. So be sure to take your canary to the vet if they tend to keep their head low or seem lethargic.

Canaries are timorous. They can easily become nervous so be weary when letting them fly around the house since they are more apt to bump their heads off of objects. Also, their timorous nature makes them more sensitive to changes made in the household (moving furniture, new smells, etc.)

For a listen to a Canary’s song, click here for a link to YouTube.

Birds 101: Simple Conversation

I would like to share a video which in my opinion, is highly under-rated.

The video is of an Amazon Mealy Parrot, which is one of the most talkative birds. The video in and of itself, is quite simple. It is 26 seconds long and comprised of nothing but back and forth communication between the bird and it’s owner. On the surface, this video seems, nothing out of the ordinary however;

That is exactly what makes it such a fantastic video! The back and forth dialog between bird and owner, is something that can’t be overlooked so easily. It shows a high level of intelligence on behalf of the bird, to knowingly “call out” to his “fellow” bird, and continue to use a specific set of  vocalizations to ensure his friend is still within his range and able to find him (the bird) if the owner needs to.

This is the basic form of vocalization for a bird in the wild or as a house pet. This 26 second interaction, displays a great deal of information on the foundation of bird calls, their purpose, and types of calls. This is, in its essence, what all birds do, and also why they do it.

The bond between this Amazon and his owner, as well, provides a tug on the heart-strings, as the owner assuredly addresses the bird as “Mijo,” which means “Son” in Spanish. Denoting that not only is the bird well-loved, he has literally become a part of the family. Which adds heavy weight to the idea that birds are just as much of a beloved house pet, as a dog or cat would be.

Mijo, also proves how birds pick up the tones, words, and sounds that are spoken around them. Science has also shown that birds have a specific set of calls, (which for a human would be equal to saying their “name,”) to call for a particular bird. When Mijo yells for “Papa,” he is not blindly calling out using an ironic sound that we, as human beings know, he is intentionally forming that specific sound to address and look for his “Papa.”

Although not every bird species is as highly vocal and able to form words; even your backyard birds exhibit this basic behavior. Each call has meaning, each ‘tweet’ and ‘caw’ has specific intention behind it. In fact, one of the basics to teaching a bird to talk is that process of mimicking each other. When my mother-in-law’s cockatiel whistles at me- I whistle back! We go back and forth- even changing tunes to a ‘kiss’ sound or whichever, and after about 15 minutes of this back and forth, the bird is ready to learn something new. Recently, it is the Star Wars Theme song.

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Photo by daniyal ghanavati on

I am a big fan of this video. It warms my heart to watch it and I hope that by sharing this video, that a similar feeling may arise in you as well.

Thank you to the creators of the video, and thank you for sharing.