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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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 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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