Animal Cruelty, Do You Know It When You See It? Dept of Ag Disagrees?

by Mary Haight on March 14, 2013

animal crueltySome sad news came in that triggered thoughts about how to get more people to report animal cruelty when they see it. If you’re a regular reader, you may recall a post about Suzi the dog, saved from a life of abuse by neighbors who contacted Lake Shore Animal Shelter for help. Suzi went from a very sad state of abuse and injury in the first seven years of life, to adopted and given a transformed life for three years with a family who loved her. Suzi died from a mass on her heart and complications with her kidneys. Do you know what cruelty looks like when you see it?

Animal Cruelty Next Door

What would you do if your neighbor was seriously neglecting his dog or cat? Who would be your first call? In Suzi’s case, since the owner was uncooperative, the neighbors called the police for 4 years. Unless the dog was in a life or death situation, there was nothing they could do about it. Some cities have special task forces to assist in this work, but if you don’t understand the protocols, you often won’t get to the right people. So many people have never heard of a “Humane Investigator”, let alone know where to find one.

Sometimes you believe you can approach the neighbor and talk to him about his pet — see if he is responsive to outside help with an offer to walk, feed or otherwise help with care. Then there are the truculent personalities who refuse your help and get angry that you interfered. Suzi’s neighbors had to sneak around the back fence to get kibble and water to her.

If you get no cooperation from local authorities, call area shelters and ask if they have a humane investigator or know someone who can help resolve the situation, much as neighbors did for Suzi. Don’t give up. It took people 4 years to find help, but they finally did it. They saved her, just as her adopting family did, giving her the best three years of her life. Of course, to hear them tell it, it was Suzi that gave so much to them — as it should be! For more how-to guidance on resolving animal cruelty in your neighborhood, including getting press, check the ALDF website.

Animal Cruelty Complaints, Your Department of Agriculture

Check your State’s Humane Care for Animals Act. This just came yesterday to my attention regarding a bill now in a senate committee :

“Amends the Humane Care for Animals Act. If the Department of Agriculture determines that a complaint made under the Act against a person or entity is false or unfounded and made with the intent to harass the person or entity, the Department may waive any confidentiality of the complainant and refer the matter to the State’s Attorney for consideration of criminal charges against the complainant. Effective immediately.”

While this is directed at “False Complaints” the Department of Agriculture should not be the judge and jury on what is unfounded, false, made with the intent to harass, etc, without any definition, scope, or limits to this power. Who would be reviewing these decisions, anyone? While I can see this would be useful and necessary for those who are abusing the system, it also appears to make it possible to shut down the whole complaint system. With few employees to handle a large volume of investigations, a revision might be a good idea. We want to encourage more people to report animal cruelty, not less.

Never a dull day here. Anyone ever run into a cruelty problem with a neighbor – how did you handle it? If you had to, was it easy to get authorities involved? (Excuse the rough draft that posted before I finished writing…I have no idea how that happened.)

Previous post:

Next post: