for Strays: Understanding Animal Cruelty and Mistreatment in Our Society
Written by Alexandra Hervish
Piper was a sweet, playful, four month old pup. One day, he set out on what he thought
to be an exciting road trip adventure with his owner. However, what Piper did not know was that his owner could not care for
him anymore. Despite the cold and rainy weather conditions, Piper’s owner decided to let him go as soon as possible.
Twenty minutes later, Piper no longer had his warm home to sleep in, owner to play with, or food to eat. As the car stopped
along the highway, he was pushed from the vehicle with only jacket atop his head to protect him. Piper sat by the road, watching
the pouring rain splash against the concrete highway. His face dropped and his eyes saddened. He was now shivering and very
scared: in front of him, speeding cars with no familiar faces; behind him, an unknown thick forest of trees. He had
nowhere to go and now had no name, for he was a homeless dog, left alone to fend for himself.i
According to the ASPCA:
“Approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter
animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70
percent of cats).”
10 percent of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. Comparatively, about 75 percent of owned pets
of ten dogs in shelters and seven out of ten cats in shelters are destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them.”ii
Animal cruelty is a complex problem, taking many forms and
claiming many victims. Animals that suffer from mistreatment or neglect have no way to protect or defend themselves. Thus
to reduce animal suffering, it is important to understand types of animal cruelty, animal protection issues and the most effective
ways to get involved.iii
Dog fighting. For more than a century, humans have been deliberately
training dogs to participate in staged dog fights. Unlike instinctive dog flare-ups, dogs that are trained for staged fights
will continue to attack regardless if their opponent surrenders or if they are badly injured. To prepare dogs for these fights,
trainers commit a variety of inhumane acts; dogs are forced to wear heavy chains to build stamina or to pick street fights
where they can get seriously injured. A further threat to the lives of these dogs is that the fights often occur in informal
arenas. Consequently, there are no rules to govern dog fighting. The most prominent fighting breed today is the “bull
terrier”, more commonly referred to as the pit bull. However, it is important to remember that with a loving, humane
home, pit bulls can be wonderful family pets that are both loyal and gentle companions.iv
According to the ASPCA, a puppy mill is a large-scale, commercial breeding operation that seeks to accumulate a profit at
the expense of the puppy. Generally, puppy mill puppies are sold to pet shops. Unlike breeders who provide the utmost care
for the genetic and physical health of a puppy, puppy mills give little to no consideration for the puppy’s quality
of life. Consequently, these puppies suffer from various hereditary defects including eye problems, blood disorders, heart
and kidney disease, deafness and musculoskeletal disorders as well as a lack of socialization. Furthermore, puppies from puppy
mills are often kept in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions and are denied access to fresh air or proper health care. Sadly,
female dogs are breed so frequently, with so little recuperation time in between liters, that they commonly become physically
depleted or lose their ability to reproduce.v
abuse or neglect. Animal abuse or cruelty occurs “when someone intentionally injures or harms an animal or
when a person willfully deprives an animal of food, water or necessary medical care.”vi Its signs and symptoms
are diverse and can include: physical wounds; extremely thin, starving animals; tick or flea infestations; inflicting
physical harm to an animal; keeping animals outside in extreme weather conditions; refraining from providing an animal with
proper medical treatment; or leaving a dog chained outside without food or water. Without reports from the public or interventions
from local or state authorities, animals remain in abusive or neglectful environments without any form of defense.vii
Often, household pets like Piper are abandoned or discarded by their families for a variety of reasons. The Regional Shelter
Relinquishment Survey conducted from 1995-1996 found that although many animals are indeed adoptable and well-adjusted, a
significant number of these pets are brought to animal shelters for euthanasia due to old age, illness or minor behavioral
problems. As many pet owners use shelters as an alternative to veterinary medical hospitals, local shelters play an incredibly
important role in maintaining pet health care and ensuring the humane treatment of animals.viii
In the United States, thousands of animal shelters are working to cope
with the challenging problems of animal abuse, neglect and abandonment. Providing support for these independent organizations
contributes to stronger coordinated action for the protection of animals as well as brings greater public attention to the
plight of animals.ix However, these efforts require resources and funds. Clays for Strays seeks to support the
noble efforts of animal rescue, shelter, clinic, and sanctuary nonprofit organizations by raising money to help unwanted or
abandoned animals. Your donations count; they make a difference;
and they directly help the life of an animal.
For additional resources about animal cruelty, please visit:
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA): HYPERLINK "http://www.aspca.org/" http://www.aspca.org/.
National Association for Humane and Environmental Education
(NAHEE): HYPERLINK "http://www.nahee.org/" http://www.nahee.org/.
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): HYPERLINK "http://www.peta.org/" http://www.peta.org/.
Animal Welfare Institute: HYPERLINK "http://www.awionline.org/"
Doris Day Animal
Foundation: HYPERLINK "http://ddaf.org/dd/" http://ddaf.org/dd/.
Humane Society of the United States: HYPERLINK "http://www.humanesociety.org/" http://www.humanesociety.org/.
Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals:
HYPERLINK "http://www.psyeta.org/" http://www.psyeta.org/.
i Sunbear Squad website. (2005-2009). True Animal Rescue Stories
ii About Good Samaritans for Animals. Accessed on December
17, 2009 at HYPERLINK "http://www.sunbearsquad.org/stories.shtml" http://www.sunbearsquad.org/stories.shtml.
iii ASPCA website. (2009). Pet Statistics.
HYPERLINK "http://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics.html" http://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics.html.
iv DeRosa, B. & Vanase, J. (eds.) (2002).
“Understanding Animal Cruelty”. National Association for Humane and Environmental Education (NAHEE). HYPERLINK
v Bank, J. & Zawistowski, S. (1997).
“History of Dog Fighting”. ASPCA Animal Watch, HYPERLINK "http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/dog-fighting/history-of-dog-fighting.html"
vi ASPCA. (2009). “What
is a Puppy Mill?”. HYPERLINK "http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/puppy-mills/what-is-a-puppy-mill.html"
vii ASPCA. (2009). “Report Animal Cruelty
FAQ”. HYPERLINK "http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/reporting-cruelty-faq.html" \l "whatiscruel"
viii Kass, P. et al. (2001). Understanding Animal Companion Surplus in
the United States: Relinquishment of Nonadoptables to Animal Shelters for Euthanasia. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare
Science, 4(4), 237-248.
Council on Pet Population Study and Policy. (2008). NCPPSP White Papers. HYPERLINK "http://www.petpopulation.org/about.html"