April is Prevention of Animal Cruelty month. Sadly, animal cruelty is still prevalent in the United States. Only 33 states and the District of Columbia have laws making animal cruelty a felony. Animals can’t speak up for themselves so it’s our responsibility to come forward when we suspect abuse. Animal cruelty can manifest itself in many ways. It is important to know what constitutes as animal cruelty. Neglect is the failure to provide for an animal’s basic needs (i.e. food, shelter, water and veterinary care). Intentional cruelty is purposely inflicting physical harm or injury on an animal.
Keep an eye out for animals in need of help and get to know the animals in your neighborhood. If you notice an animal losing a significant amount of weight, missing fur or the presence of burns, cuts or parasites the animal may be the victim of abuse. If you see an animal chained up outside for long periods of time or kept in in an enclosure that is too small or unsanitary, you should report the situation to Animal Control. In Montgomery County, a tethered animal must be on a harness and cannot be left outside for more than 2 hours at a time between the hours of 8am and 8pm. The tether should be at least 5 times the length of the animal and weigh no more than 1/8 of the animal’s weight.
If you suspect an animal is being abused it is important that you gather as much information as possible before contacting animal control authorities and if you can, take a picture of the animal. Montgomery County residents should report animal abuse to Animal Control.
Hopefully, none of us will witness animal cruelty in our neighborhoods but there are actions we can take in our personal lives to reduce violence against animals:
- Teach children to respect and be kind towards animals.
- Make responsible choices regarding the products we buy, eat and wear.
- Adopt a shelter pet. Puppy mills and backyard breeds are some of the worst offenders when it comes to animal cruelty.
- Contact and become active in your area’s local SPCA, humane society or animal advocacy group.