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April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month


April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.  As pet parents and members of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) are aware, some animals are not given the chance to know love and companionship. Some of the pets we love and take into our homes may themselves have been victims of cruelty.  April is chosen to educate pet parents and the general public that cruelty to animals is still a major problem in the U.S.  As of October 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tracks offenders of animal abuse like they would for any other federal crime, following these abusers throughout their life to make sure they get deserving sentences and do not become repeat offenders.

Animal cruelty is defined as intentional injury or harm to an animal, or neglect by depriving an animal of food, water or necessary medical care. Signs of animal cruelty may include wounds on the animal’s body, limping, missing patches of hair, an extremely thin animal, or pets that are left outside in extreme weather conditions.  Children who are cruel to animals may grow up to abuse people. Unfortunately, Puppy Mills continue to be an issue. 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.

It is important to speak out about preventing cruelty to innocent animals.  Volunteering at a local animal shelter or humane society provides support for homeless animals.  Essentials such as cat litter or dog food may be donated to help needy animals.  Adoption may be a rewarding experience for both pets and pet parents, giving the pet a second chance to experience the love of a family or become the beloved companion of a single person.  Puppies should be adopted from a shelter, not bought in pet stores because they may have been raised in puppy mills.  Often, such places are not inspected and the animals are forced to live in terrible conditions.  Many charities accept donations to help animals, for example, the ASPCA.

The first step in reporting animal cruelty is to identify the local agency responsible for investigating cruelty and enforcing anti-cruelty codes.  Such agencies may include the humane society, animal control department of a city, a shelter, or a police station. When reporting animal cruelty, is it crucial to provide as much information as possible to the authorities, so that the perpetrators can be prosecuted and the animal can be removed/saved from their abuser. By being aware of and reporting cruelty, concerned citizens build communities that promote respect and have compassion for animals, and each animal has a permanent and loving home.