By Al Winzerling
La Plata County Humane Society
Every 60 seconds, an animal gets abused. What is cruelty to animals and how can we prevent it? Animal cruelty is the abuse or neglect of an animal. It’s that simple.
Some of the things that are considered cruelty are: abuse, neglect, exploitation, human predation and testing.
Abuse cases involve the willful harming of an animal. Some examples are a human kicking a dog for having an accident in the house or a woman whipping her horse for failing to respond to a command.
Neglect is either through ignorance or disinterest and often results in an animal dying from malnutrition, dehydration, untreated disease or other conditions.
Exploitation is using an animal cruelly because of a sense of entitlement or for profit. For example, circuses, aquatic theme parks and even some zoos fall into this category. Did you know that 96% of circus animals’ lives are spent in a cage?
Human predation because of our dominant skill set can easily control or abuse animals. Humans are often called “ apex predators” (at the top of the food chain or with no other natural predators).
Animal testing because of scientific development has now rendered this testing unnecessary. Animals in testing facilities are exposed to all manner of chemicals and substances that cause itching, burning, chronic pain, lost body parts and many other terrible consequences. These types of facilities do not need to exist any longer.
Why do people abuse animals? Some people believe animals do not share many of the same emotions we have such as pain, fear, sadness, joy, despair and hope. If you have shared part of your life with an animal, you know they do have all these feelings and more.
Many times, other crimes are associated with animal cruelty. Domestic violence, homicide and although not a crime, mental illness can be associated with cruelty. Criminals such as drug dealers seem to own pit bulls, and consequently, this breed of animal has been associated with something terrible. Often, these animals are abused and trained to be vicious and overly protective.
What can we do as average citizens to prevent or reduce these many various instances of animal abuse?
Most jurisdictions have animal control officers. La Plata County and city of Durango have an exceptional law enforcement arm to investigate, prosecute offenders and rescue these animals. Unfortunately, they can only perform their job when a concerned citizen reports the abuse. As residents of this community, we can be observant and report alleged animal abuse or neglect.
Here are some examples of what you can do to prevent animal cruelty: Only purchase meat from grass-fed cattle, lamb, etc. or eggs from cage-free chickens. We can be observant of our surroundings and report anything that may be animal abuse.
As a reminder, your La Plata County Humane Society is a nonprofit and totally funded by sales from the thrift store, donations and grants. We are not affiliated with the city of Durango or La Plata County, even though it is in our name.
Al Winzerling is a La Plata County Humane Society board member. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.