April is Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month. Sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), it is a time to focus on abused animals, animals forced to live in puppy mills, animals that are used for fighting, etc. This issue was brought home to this area again in a recent story covered by the Daily Press. Local animals are vulnerable to neglect and abuse, too. The ASPCA asks you to show your support for abused animals by wearing the color orange this month. Simply wearing an orange ribbon or displaying one on your vehicle antenna will make a statement that animal abuse will not be tolerated.
Animal cruelty can manifest in many ways. Here are a few warning signs to watch for:
- Wounded animals, either with open wounds or scarring. Limping or difficulty moving can also be a sign of abuse.
- Animals left outside with no shelter from the elements.
- Very thin, underweight animals.
- Hair loss, skin lesions or matted fur.
- Animals that are forced to live in their own feces.
- An animal that is crated in a space that is too small to move in comfortably or is kept in a crate for extended periods of time.
If you witness an owner physically abusing a pet, or you suspect animal cruelty or neglect, gather as much information as you can and report it to your local police department. Follow up so that you know the problem has been addressed.
One way you can help prevent animal abuse by teaching your children to be kind to animals. Children who learn to be gentle with animals are more likely to become caring and responsible adults. Here are a few ways you can teach your children empathy for our animal companions:
- Involve them in pet care responsibilities. Let them help walk the family dog or feed the family cat.
- Put a bird feeder in your back yard and have them help you care for it.
- Take your children to a local animal shelter where they can brush, pet, and play with adoptable cats.
For more information and to learn 10 ways you can help prevent cruelty to animals, visit www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/top-10-ways-to-prevent-animal.aspx. We are their voice.