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NewsANIMALS 101 - RECOGNIZING CRUELTY

ANIMALS 101 – RECOGNIZING CRUELTY
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ANIMALS 101 – ONCE YOU LEARN TO RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS OF ANIMAL ABUSE, YOU’LL BE BETTER EQUIPPED TO REPORT IT.

The Humane Society divides cruelty into two kinds: direct violence and neglect. Some call it active vs. passive cruelty.

  • Direct violence. Signs include open wounds, multiple scars, limping, or difficulty walking. Many dogs that suffer direct violence will also display behaviours such as hiding, walking with their head down and tail between their legs, or cringing when people approach. Since those can also occur for other reasons, these behavioural signs alone shouldn’t be taken as definitive proof that a dog is being hurt.
  • Neglect. Most people don’t go so far as to actually lay hands on their pet to hurt them, but what happens with far too many owners is just as bad: they neglect the needs of their dog/pet.

Also read: ANIMALS 101 – UNDERSTANDING ANIMAL CRUELTY.

CRUELTY CASES

All animal cruelty cases can be separated into three basic categories:

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  • It may be hard to believe, but many people don’t even know that the harm they are inflicting on their pets is in fact abuse. This type of abuse is known as unintentional, and it’s caused through neglect, animal hoarding or failing to meet an animal’s basic needs.
  • Intentional animal abuse and cruel intent both refer to abuse that is performed with the knowledge that an animal is being harmed and possibly injured.
  • Cruel intent is often recurring and abusers in this category feel a sense of power, control or enjoyment when inflicting pain on these animals.
ANIMALS
Photo: Bethal SPCA

11 SIGNS OF CRUELTY (Bulawayo SPCA)

1 – POOR BODY CONDITION AND NOTICEABLE TRAUMA

The animal has severe matting and a filthy coat, hair loss, lesions, scabs or other skin conditions that have not been treated. Open sores or obvious wounds. They appear to be flea or tick-infested. They are underweight with bones clearly visible or dehydrated. They might be limping or unable to walk at all or have congested eyes or ears. They are in obvious physical distress, have no signs of medical care like bandages etc., and are in need of veterinary care. Withholding/denial of medical care whether sick or injured is also considered cruel.

2 – LACK OF FOOD OR WATER

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Every time you see this animal you notice that they have no obvious sources of food and/or freshwater. They may be aggressive due to starvation and thirst, and perhaps very lethargic.

3 – LACK OF SHELTER

The animal is contained in an area that is largely or fully exposed to inclement weather or constant sun.

4 – LACK OF SANITATION

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Faeces and/or debris cover the animal’s living area. Offensive odours coming from a home or yard, such as the constant smell of ammonia or faeces.

5 – ABANDONED

The animal is left in a house, yard, or other areas that appear empty or devoid of normal human activity. Reports of companion animals abandoned and left to die inside vacant buildings are alarmingly common. It is a crime under SA law to abandon an animal.

6 – THE ANIMAL IS TIED OR CAGED

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They have little or no room to move, and/or is unable to stand or turn. Animals are kept confined inside a car, garage, basement, attic or other enclosed areas.

7 – CHAINS, ROPES, WIRE OR PADLOCKS AROUND THE ANIMAL’S NECK

Be on the lookout for anything around an animal’s neck that may have become embedded and/or infected, including regular collars. If an animal is tied there are chaining or tethering regulations that need to be followed!

8 – SIGNS OF AN ANIMAL BEING TRAINED TO OR HAVING BEEN USED TO FIGHT

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This is especially common with power breed dogs, and even roosters. You may see training implements, treadmills, spring poles, etc. More likely you will notice obvious signs of trauma, including scars, open wounds, infections, and even missing body parts, such as ears or tails.

9 – THE ANIMAL’S BEHAVIOR IS ABNORMAL

They may be very aggressive, hostile, ill, distressed or severely shy, e.g., cowering, hiding, fear-biting, even with or especially with the owner.

10 – TOO MANY ANIMALS LIVING ON ONE PROPERTY

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This can be a sign of animal hoarding, which makes the conditions no less cruel. An estimated hundreds of thousands of animals are hoarding victims each year. An individual who has a large number of animals in his/her care and may not even know the total number when questioned. Animals are kept in overcrowded, deteriorated areas. Your local municipal bylaws state how many animals may be kept.

11 – OVERT ACTS OF VIOLENCE

An owner or any person who is being overtly violent against the animal, striking or throwing objects at them, or otherwise physically abusing them.

There is no violence against an animal that is justified and a person who would abuse an animal in public or plain sight is likely doing far worse outside of view. The death of one or more animals under suspicious conditions should also be reported and investigated.

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The above is there to help you understand cruelty better and know what to look for. Some of the above signs by themselves do not necessarily mean that an animal is being abused. It’s important to examine the entire situation before jumping to conclusions, but rather report it if you are unsure, so it can be investigated.

For EXAMPLE, you might notice that your neighbour’s three cats are infested with fleas and are physically uncomfortable. After a short conversation with your neighbour, you learn that all three cats are being treated, and they appear healthy and socially adjusted. You conclude that these cats are probably not being abused. On the other hand, you notice another neighbourhood dog with an obvious flea infestation who also looks emaciated, has open sores on its body and acts aggressively when approached. In this case, you may have reason to suspect abuse.

Next week we will look into how you can help us fight cruelty!

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!

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ANIMALS 101 – RECOGNIZING CRUELTY

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