Your VOICE does MATTER ! As many of you know I pride myself on being a voice for the animals and this month I plan on speaking louder. Why? Well education is key, acknowledgment is powerful and one human voice can save the life of one animal or the lives of hundreds of animals.
April is “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.” The ASPCA, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, began this important month for animals eight years ago and it is now a nationwide celebration of the human-animal bond and of victories on behalf of animals.
Here in Massachusetts we are blessed to live in a State that realizes residents treat their animals like family members. Our political leaders work endlessly with law enforcement and residents to help prevent cruelty to animals. But of course this really starts at home; with you, with me, with your children and your neighbors.
In Massachusetts, animal abuse is considered a felony! If you witness an animal being hurt or mistreated, neglected or used for unlawful purpose call 911 IMMEDIATELY. Please do not look the other way, please don't feel like you are misinterpreting a situation. If it doesn't seem right, feel right or isn't a manner you would treat your pets, then call the police.
How can you help:
1. Be Aware - Know your neighborhood, know your neighbors pets. Keep an eye out for any immediate or long term changes. For example: a neighbor leaves his dog tied to a tree all day all night, or a dog that was once a healthy weight suddenly seems frail. Behavior changes can be a sign of abuse; that super friendly dog now seems aggressive or timid, may be worth questioning. The police and animal control need your tips, and your calls to do their investigation. Remember, this is all to help a helpless animal.
2. Recognize the signs of animal abuse - Animal abuse is physical and emotional. Some of the signs are the following:
o A person hitting, striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal.
o Dogs/cats who are repeatedly left alone without food and water, often chained up in a yard or roaming neighborhoods.
o Dogs/cats who have obvious pain
o Dogs/cat who are kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions. This includes all seasons of weather: rain, snow, freezing or heat and left directly in the sun.
o Animals who cower in fear or act aggressively when approached by their owners or any other adult.
o Tick or flea infestations or with knotted, dirty or mangy fur. Such conditions, if left untreated by a veterinarian, can lead to an animal becoming sick or even death.
o Wounds on the body. Especially open wounds that don't seem to be healing or sores that keep reopening.
o Extremely thin, starving animals, and these animals may be scouring through trash cans and dumpster looking for food.
o Limping and/or whimpering
3. Talk to your kids and teach them the importance of treating animals with kindness and respect. Kids learn by example: Teach them the importance of fresh daily water and food, proper exercise playing nicely and paying attention to your family pet. A parent or adult should take on the responsibility of teaching children the importance of accepting and including the family dog/cat as a family member.
4. Set a good example for others. If you have pets, be sure to always show them the love and good care that they deserve. But it’s more than just food, water, and adequate shelter. If you think your animal is sick, bring him to the veterinarian. Don't hold back on his care, animals sometimes can hoard their sickness and pains. If you have a doubt, take your pet to the vet !
5. Be responsible and have your animals spayed or neutered. - The health benefits of spaying and neutering will help with the longevity of your pet's life. It is also a great preventative for over populating, many of these litters are unwanted and left outside to live a feral life.
6. Support local shelters or animal rescue organizations. Volunteering at an animal shelter is a great way to learn about what is happening in our community and it’s a great way to make a positive difference. It is also a wonderful and bonding experience for the entire family
Massachusetts is second to New York State with laws that help protect and prevent animal abuse. It is worth reviewing and getting to know our MA State Animal laws and Animal Cruelty laws.
Massachusetts general animal laws- Chapter 140 section 150
Massachusetts animal cruelty laws - Chapter 272 section 77
Please follow on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Animal-Cruelty-Prevention-Month-APRIL/522504737795416
Tracey is the owner of Wiggles & Jiggles Pet Care of North Andover and the winner of the NATIONAL PLATINUM PAW Award presented by Pet Sitters International. She may be contacted at 978-697-6571 or www.wigglewalk.webs.com on facebook at www.facebook.com/wigglesjigglespetcare