Issues Faced By Companion Animals
Animals and human have always had to coexist. And the relationships developed between us have grown in different ways. One of the most positive ways we have come to interact is through companionship. Animals have become our friends and family and we have grown to love them. Still, companion animals have their own share of difficulties. Just as there are positives in this animal/human relationship, there are negatives.
Abuse & Neglect
Animal cruelty can be either deliberate abuse or simply the failure to take care of an animal. Either way, whether the animal is a pet, a farm animal, or wildlife, the victim can suffer terribly.
Unfortunately, for many aspiring dog owners, the first place to go searching for a new dog is the pet store. These playfully innocent puppies are irresistible and few would ever imagine that they may come from a far-from-innocent place. Many pet store puppies are born to suffering, malnourished dogs in puppy mills. A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation that places profit over the well-being of its dogs—who are often severely neglected—and acts without regard to responsible breeding practices.
Pitting dogs against each other for sport was common in many societies in the 1800’s. After England introduced a ban on bull baiting (using dogs to bait bears, bulls and other animals, earning them the name pit bulls), these dogs were instead trained to fight each other. Although dog fighting is a reprehensible act, it continues to be practiced in many parts of the world such as Japan, Russia, South Africa and even illegally in the U.S.
Women and Pets Escaping Violence
Family violence involves the abuse of predominately women, children and animals. People who abuse animals are often responsible for family violence. According to the American Humane Association, research indicates that more than 40% of women who own pets and are experiencing domestic violence significantly delay their escape to safety if it means leaving a pet behind. If we do not address the connection between human and animal violence we will continue to allow pet ownership to act as a barrier for victims of violence.
Each year, tens of thousands of American horses—riding horses, carriage horses, race horses, wild horses, and children’s ponies—are inhumanely transported and slaughtered, their meat shipped to places like France, Italy, and Japan for human consumption. Purchased by slaughterhouse middlemen at auction, horses are shipped long distances in cramped trailers without food, water, or rest. The majority of these horses are young, healthy animals that could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners.
Here’s a video from the Humane Society of the United States about the story of one girl’s horse found at a slaughterhouse.
Each year, shelters take in approximately 8 million stray and unwanted animals across the country. Tragically, about 2.7 million—about one every 11 seconds—are put down in U.S. shelters each year because good homes cannot be found for them (American Humane Society). In fact, shelter euthanasia is the leading cause of death for both dogs and cats in the United States.
Ear cropping and tail docking
For centuries, dogs around the world have been subjected to tail docking and ear cropping predominantly for cosmetic purposes. Today many show dogs have their ears cropped and/or tails docked because it has been part of their breed standard for decades. Many people who have these breeds as pets also want the ‘traditional’ look of cropped ears and/or docked tails.
Fanciers of these breeds argue working dogs have their ears cropped and tails docked to prevent them from being torn while they work. However, ears and tails are rarely torn and the process of docking and cropping is unnecessary. In reality these procedures may be painful and should never be done except by a veterinarian for medical reasons.
Animal hoarding is a serious mental health issue that involves an individual or individuals acquiring more animals than they can care for. Animal hoarders often keep animals numbering in the tens or hundreds. These animals are kept in abysmal conditions without having their basic needs met. Most hoarders do not feel that their actions are endangering the lives of the animals they keep, but rather that they are saving lives. Because hoarders are unable to provide even the minimal level of care for the animals, animal protection agencies who raid such residences report finding the homes in awful conditions. Animal welfare advocates have struggled for a number of years to have animal hoarding taken seriously as a mental disorder.
Chaining & Tethering
Dogs (like people) are social animals, yet more than 200,000 dogs live empty lives chained or tethered outdoors. Some people believe that dogs should live outside to protect a home or property. Dogs are also put outside because they display behaviors that challenge their families. In practice, chaining threatens the dog’s health and well-being and the safety of other animals and humans. Tied-up outside, dogs become lonely, bored, and anxious, and they can develop aggressive behaviors. Bring a dog inside (or help a chained dog in your neighborhood), and you’ll keep everyone safer.
Abandoning an animal is never acceptable under any circumstances, yet many people do just that by dumping their animals that they no longer want, or perhaps can no longer afford. With the recent economic troubles, many people are choosing to leave their animals to fend for themselves rather than do the responsible thing and find them a new home or surrender them to a local humane society.