There’s no doubt that we all love our pets and are grateful to have them in our lives. We do everything that we can to care for and pamper them that it’s easy to overlook the fact that not all animals are as lucky.
Unfortunately, thousands of animals—dogs especially—experience neglect, abuse, and even torture every year.
History of Animal Cruelty in America
In the 1800s, Americans had a vastly different relationship with animals as they do today. Workhorses and beasts of burden were commonly whipped and overworked to the point of collapse. It was also a time when cockfighting and dogfighting were accepted forms of entertainment.
Animal rights in the United States would not be where it is today if not for the heroic effort of Henry Bergh, the New Yorker who founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in 1866. The ASPCA was the first animal rights organization in the country.
Their mission then was as it is today: to uphold the respectful treatment of all animals and guarantee their protection by influencing legislation.
Thanks to the ASPCA and the hundreds of other organizations that it has undoubtedly inspired, the country has definitely come a long way in how animals are treated, valued, and respect. However, every year, about 3.3 million dogs still enter American shelters.
Because resources are scarce, over 20% of them end up being euthanized, supposedly as a humane means to prevent suffering. That’s approximately 670,000 dogs that are killed each year, all because they could find homes to take them in.
Furthermore, criminal animal cruelty is still rife in America today. In 2015, the FBI began recording incidents of cruelty to animals in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Although reports were only gathered from 29 states by 2018, the system had recorded 5,201 incidents of animal cruelty that year.
Of the total recorded animal cruelty incidents in 2018, approximately 68% were cases of neglect while as much as 29% involved intentional physical harm and violence. The remaining 3% were split between sexual abuse, animal fighting, and other types of cruelty.
Why is this still happening? Advancements in legislation, active participation of law enforcement, and the effort of animal rights advocates have undoubtedly made a huge impact on the prevalence of animal abuse. Unfortunately, incidents of neglect, intentional abuse, and organized abuse still occur, mostly at the misfortune of innocent and defenceless dogs.
It makes people feel powerful.
Violence towards animals is typically a means to express power and dominance. People who inflict pain or even kill animals to feel powerful are individuals with deep psychological disturbances. These people are also likely to be involved in other crimes, including those involving violence towards people.
It’s a result of financial troubles.
There are times when cases of neglect involve people lacking access to social services. Unfortunate circumstances like unemployment, disability, and foreclosure leave people unable to care properly for their pets, and so dogs are left to starve, fall ill, and pass on.
It’s a mental health issue.
Neglect cases sometimes involve people needing mental health services. These are often cases of hoarding where countless animals live in typically unsanitary and inhumane conditions.
These individuals perceive themselves to be well-intentioned but their compulsion to collect live animals leaves them unable to adequately provide for all the animals in their care. As a result, cats and dogs in their possession do not receive proper nutrition, veterinary care, or even shelter.
It is a means to gain profit.
Many cases of animal abuse happen in puppy mills—inhumane dog breeding facilities where operators value profit over the wellbeing of the animals they use to reproduce as well as the puppies they sell as pets.
In these facilities, dogs are perpetually kept in cages where they are forced to reproduce until they are no longer physically able to do so. Then, they are typically culled or abandoned.
Unfortunately, operating puppy mills are not illegal in many states, for as long as dogs are given basics like food and water. In fact, the Humane Society of the United States estimates that 10,000 puppy mills are operating across the country.
These facilities churn out most of the puppies sold in pet stores and online classifieds. Although inhumane, law enforcement can only shut these down when there are documented incidents of cruelty, abuse, or neglect.
Some think it’s entertaining.
Dogfighting is also a means to profit at the expense of animals, typically pit bulls bred specifically for this purpose. In this blood “sport,” dogs are pitted against each other for entertainment.
The process of training as well as the matches themselves is rife with cruelty. People participate in this despicable activity to make money from admission fees, bet winnings, and stud fees.
Because of its illegal nature, these often take place in underground locations known only to small groups of people. This form of illicit gambling is often associated with several other criminal activities like possession of firearms or drugs.
Why we must stop this!
When pit bulls are bred specifically for dogfighting, they are chosen for hereditary traits like dog-directed aggression. This practice of selective breeding plays a large part in the stigma surrounding all the bully breeds today.
Pit bulls and similar breeds are not naturally aggressive when bred responsibly and socialized properly. It is incredibly unfair for all bullies to suffer because of the criminal activities of untoward humans.
The worst part is that these animals cannot speak for or defend themselves. It is up to us to look after their welfare and give them all a chance at a good life.
Additionally, violence towards animals doesn’t exist in a vacuum. These incidents are often linked with other crimes, including robbery, assault, vandalism, and drug offenses. Furthermore, there is an established link between animal abuse and domestic violence.
Research shows that 89% of women seeking refuge from an abusive relationship report violence towards their pets. In many households, abusive partners harm pets to demonstrate their power as well as to control the behavior of their partners.
Furthermore, data shows that approximately 1 in 2 domestic abuse victims say they stayed in the relationship for fear of their pets’ safety. Ultimately, reporting incidents of animal abuse may save more than just one life.
Spark Paws teams up with animal shelters against animal cruelty
Spark Paws is committed to fighting animal cruelty and misinformation on the pit bull breed so that no dog will have to face the injustices.
We've teamed up with a few excellent animal shelters to provide support and drive awareness:
|Fresno Bully Rescue Fresno Bully Rescue (FBR) is located in Central Valley, California where the high number of foreclosures has forced many to give up their dogs. The rescue focuses on pit bulls and other bully breeds because these are often the first to be euthanized at shelters. FBR dogs for adoption are typically rescued from abusive homes, the streets, or kill shelters.|
|Angel City Pit Bulls Angel City Pit Bulls is a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles, California. It was founded specifically to address the large number of pit bulls in kill shelters and the rate at which they are euthanized. Rather than maintaining a shelter, this foundation runs entirely on foster programs and the support of its volunteers and donors.|
|Plenty of Pit Bulls Plenty of Pit Bulls is based in Gainesville, Florida where they advocate for the plight of pit bulls through outreach and educational programs. Their primary pursuit is to divert pit bulls and other bully breeds from overpopulated shelters, rescue those from abusive homes, and rehabilitate dogs to help them find a permanent, loving home.|
|Alamo City Pit Bull Alamo City Pit Bull is a foster-based rescue based in San Antonio, Texas. The main focus is to rescue, rehabilitate, and find suitable homes for previously unloved pit bulls. The organization is also committed to eradicating the stigma surrounding bully breeds. All their dogs are medically cleared, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and microchipped before adoption.|
How You Can Help
No matter what your current circumstances are or where you’re located, there’s always something you can do to help. If you’re keen on supporting these causes, here are a few things for you to consider:
Of the 3.3 million dogs that enter American shelters each year, many are pit bulls and other big dog breeds like German Shepherds and Boxers. Previous owners were often those unable to provide for their physical and intellectual needs. Sometimes, owners give them up because of prejudice against these breeds.
If there’s space in your heart and home for a new pup, consider adopting from reputable shelters. You’ll get the privilege of giving a dog a new lease on life. Plus, you’ll help free up space and resources so shelters can continue saving more animals.
If adopting a dog is too much of a commitment, consider opening up your home to fosters. Foster dogs are typically rescues that need help getting ready for adoption.
Sometimes, they need some medical attention like dressing wounds or some physical rehabilitation. But most often, all they need is a place where they can learn to open up to people and even other animals.
Fostering a shelter dog is a great way to play a part in rescuing a life. It is an excellent way to socialize the foster as well as your own pup. In some cases, these programs might even lead to more permanent arrangements.
A shelter operation involves many costs. There are expenses for rescuing animals as well as providing for their medical care, food, and training requirements.
They also have overhead costs involving the lease of space, staffing, and supplies. To cover all these, they typically rely on donations.
Any amount you can spare for a shelter will go a long way in helping animals in need. Nevertheless, helpful donations aren’t necessarily in monetary form.
Often, shelters might need something you already have to spare, like towels, blankets, and toys that animals might need to get settled. They might also find cleaning products or even office supplies useful. Make sure you check your local shelter for things you might be able to donate in kind.
Many shelters rely on volunteers for the day-to-day essentials of caring for rescued animals. You’ll get to work directly with cats and dogs, and help keep their spaces clean and comfortable.
Among the most important contributions you can make as a volunteer is to help walk, play, and socialize animals so they have better chances of getting adopted.
Additionally, volunteering your time to support a shelter doesn’t necessarily involve working with the animals. You can help with administrative work or even volunteer any other skills you might have to raise funds or promote adoptions.
You don’t need to work with shelters directly to help improve the plight of animals across the country. It already helps to keep yourself informed and take every opportunity to educate others in your network.
Most importantly, spread awareness about signs of animal abuse and encourage people to seek help on behalf of the helpless animals.
By taking a stand and speaking out against animal abuse, you give others the confidence to do the same. We all stand a better chance of saving lives from abuse and cruelty if more people are aware of and support the cause.
So many selfless people and generous organizations are working to rescue and rehabilitate victims of animal abuse. However, they can’t do it alone and every ounce of help we can offer will make all the difference to these innocent and precious beings.
Let’s face the harsh reality that these animal abuse incidents do exist—sometimes even in our own neighborhoods—so that we may be better able to advocate for the animals that bring so much joy and meaning to our own lives.