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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 5, 2006

ASPCA offers tips for recognizing and preventing animal cruelty

Advertiser News Services


Founded in 1866, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was the first humane organization established in the Western Hemisphere and today has one million supporters. The ASPCA's mission is to provide an effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides national leadership in humane education, government affairs and public policy, shelter support, and animal poison control. The NYC headquarters houses a full-service animal hospital, animal behavior center, and adoption facility. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York's animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series Animal Precinct on Animal Planet. Visit www.aspca.org for more information.

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NEW YORK - Unquestionably, animal cruelty is a deplorable act. Witnessing an act that harms an often defenseless animal leaves many humans feeling equally defenseless. The questions that many people have though are what exactly constitutes animal cruelty; how can they prevent animal cruelty in their neighborhood; and who should they call to report possible cases of cruelty.

In recognition of April as Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month and in an effort to help the public recognize and report animal cruelty, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has outlined 10 tips on how to identify and prevent animal cruelty.

1. Be aware. Without phone calls from concerned citizens who report cruelty in their neighborhoods, humane organizations wouldn't know about most instances of animal abuse. Get to know and look out for the animals in your neighborhood. By being aware, people are more likely to notice, for example, that the dog next door who was once hefty rapidly has lost weight a possible indicator of abuse.

2. Learn to recognize animal cruelty. The following are some signs:

  • Wounds on the body; patches of missing hair; extremely thin, starving animals; limping, etc.

  • An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal.

  • Dogs who are repeatedly left alone without food and water, often chained up in a yard.

  • Dogs who have been hit by cars or are showing any of the signs listed above and have not been taken to a veterinarian.

  • Dogs who are kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions.

  • Animals who cower in fear or act aggressively when approached by their owners.

    3. Know who to call to report animal cruelty. Every state and every town is different. In some areas, people may rely on the police department to investigate animal cruelty; in others, people have to contact their local animal control or another municipal agency. The ASPCA has a section of its website devoted to helping people find local services for investigating animal cruelty, please visit www.aspca.org for more information.

    4. Provide as much as information as possible when reporting animal cruelty. It helps to write down the type of cruelty that you witnessed, who was involved, the date of the incident and where it took place.

    5. Call or write your local law enforcement department and let them know that investigating animal cruelty should be a priority. Animal cruelty is a crime and the police must investigate these crimes.

    6. Know your state's animal cruelty laws. They vary from state to state, and even from city to city. You can visit the ASPCA Web site at http://www.aspca.org/statelaws to find information about the laws in your state.

    7. You can fight for the passage of strong anti-cruelty laws on federal, state and local levels by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to lobby your legislators and help get the laws passed.

    8. Set a good example for others. If you have pets, be sure to always show them the love and good care that they deserve. It's more than just food, water, and adequate shelter. If you think your animal is sick, bring him to the veterinarian. Be responsible and have your animals spayed or neutered.

    9. Talk to your kids about how to treat animals with kindness and respect. One of the most power tools for preventing cruelty to animals is education. It is important to plant the seeds of kindness in children early, and to nurture their development as the child grows.

    Children not only need to learn what they shouldn't do, but also what they can and should do. When children see that their pets are happy and loving, it will make the child feel good, too. This in turn will help the children care for their pets' feelings.

    10. Support your local shelter or animal rescue organization. Support your local animal rescue organization or shelter with donations of money, food or supplies. Volunteering your time or fostering a shelter animal is a good way to make a difference.

    The ASPCA will celebrate its 140th Anniversary of preventing cruelty to animals on April 10. For more information about the ASPCA's longstanding history of fighting animal abuse visit www.aspca.org/history.