April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month, a time of the year for animal lovers to spread awareness about the problems of widespread animal abuse. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), hundreds of thousands of animals fall victim to some degree of abuse each year. Whether they be inhabitants of puppy mills, victims of animal hoarding, or horses being transported outside the U.S. for slaughter and consumption, the loose regulations surrounding animal welfare in the U.S. leave room for animals to be abused in a variety of scenarios.
Despite a temporary boost in advocacy for animal rights in April, these issues obviously persist throughout the year. As the end of the month draws near, it’s important to remember that we must continue to shed light on the abuse inflicted on countless animals on a daily basis.
Working to end cruelty to animals through education and awareness could help enforce the idea that violence isn’t ever appropriate, nor will it fix any problems. To do so, it helps to raise awareness surrounding the various types of cruelty to animals and how to help stop them.
Cruelty to Animals
Cruelty to animals takes on many forms that people often don’t realize they are supporting. This can include general neglect, as well as abuse, exploitation, testing, and human predation. The following is a breakdown of what these look like and how to ensure you’re not unintentionally supporting unethical practices.
Animal abuse is the most intentional form of cruelty to animals, as it involves willfully harming animals. Although this is a very direct form of abuse, it often goes unreported because it occurs behind closed doors. This type of abuse can include things like kicking, punching, or throwing a cat or dog, as well as using excessive negative reinforcement in an attempt to train a pet.
However, this type of abuse stems far beyond pets in a household. This type of abuse often occurs against livestock, especially because the quality of life for these animals is forgotten about as they are already going to be killed for consumption. People who work in factory farming conditions stop seeing these animals as living creatures and simply see them as commodities, which results in inhumane treatment and direct abuse.
A couple of ways that you can help prevent cruelty to animals is by not purchasing factory farmed meat, thereby not supporting the conditions these animals are raised under. It’s also important to recognize animal abuse when you see it in your life and to report it immediately.
Animal neglect is one of the most common forms of abuse, as it often stems from ignorance rather than malice. This type of abuse can happen when a person doesn’t properly know how to care for an animal, such as not knowing when it’s too hot or cold for them to be outside, or forgetting that they need about as much attention as humans.
Neglect can also occur when a pet owner simply doesn’t have the time or resources to care for their pet, resulting in a lack of food, water, or veterinary care if the animal falls ill. This is why some shelters require that potential adopting families prove they are capable of caring for the pet before allowing adoption, which includes providing a proper living space for the animal, as well as having time care for them thoroughly.
Another form of abuse occurs when animals are neglected under hoarding conditions. When people suffer from hoarding disorders, they can often house more animals than they’re able to take care of, causing severe neglect as they often cannot keep track of their pets nor give them the attention they need to be happy.
Animal exploitation is often seen when animals are used for entertainment, whether it be at the circus, animal theme park, or even the zoo. Animals who are used in these types of events and establishments are often mistreated in order to be trained. They are also frequently subjected to poor living conditions, spending their lives in cages or chains in order to be transported from one place to the next.
Animals are social and sentient beings, and they deserve to live in their natural habitats, where they can live healthier and happier lives. However, people often feel entitled to see them in their hometown and don’t realize that these animals are often lonely and living in uncomfortable conditions. Even zoos, which are often considered places for animal rehabilitation, often keep their animals under less than ideal conditions. They can be the source of accidents that result in harm to both people and animals.
Animals are also exploited through predatory, typically illegal gambling rings, such as dog or cockfighting operations. Animals in these conditions are often severely harmed or killed as people place bets to see which will win in the ring. If you see or hear signs that an illegal animal fighting ring is occurring, report it to the police immediately.
To avoid and prevent other types of animal exploitation, it’s best to avoid circuses and theme parks that use animals. Check the credentials of any zoos before you visit them to ensure they take care of only rehabilitated animals and that they have high animal care standards and large enclosures.
Another overlooked form of cruelty to animals is animal testing. Animals that undergo this are often harmed as a result of unnecessary testing for cosmetic products. To avoid supporting the cruelty that occurs during animal testing, only buy products from companies that don’t partake in the practice.
There are hundreds of companies that don’t partake in animal testing. A few include:
- Ulta Beauty
- Zoya Nail Polish
- Wet n Wild
- Desert Essence
- e.l.f. Cosmetics
Preventing Animal Cruelty
There are many ways to help prevent cruelty to animals, including donating to nonprofits that are dedicated to rescuing and sheltering animals, and volunteering at animal welfare organizations whenever possible. Communities and businesses can join the movement against animal cruelty by recognizing individuals who have made advancements against cruelty, such as Houston’s Unsung Greats (HUG) Awards. The movement needs all of the extra help and resources it can get.
Avoiding animal cruelty can be done through several actions and lifestyle changes, including avoiding events and establishment that use animals for gain and only purchasing products from companies that are conscious of animal rights. Animal cruelty occurs every day, and even though Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month is drawing to a close, now is the perfect time to set goals about how you’ll prevent every form of cruelty to animals.
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