Animal cruelty generally falls into one of three categories: neglect, intentional cruelty or
sexual abuse. Neglect is the failure to provide adequate water, food, shelter, or necessary
care. Examples of neglect include: starvation; dehydration; inadequate shelter; parasite
infestations; failure to seek veterinary care when an animal is in need of medical attention;
allowing a collar to grow into an animal's skin; confinement without adequate light,
ventilation, space or in unsanitary conditions; and failure to trim hoofs or nails resulting in
excessive growth (e.g. hoofs curling upwards). In some cases, neglect is a result of the
owner's ignorance, and can be rectified by law enforcement authorities, like the Ontario
SPCA, educating the owner and issuing orders to improve the animal's living conditions.
If an owner fails to make the required changes, Ontario SPCA investigators can remove the animal to ensure he or she receives the necessary care. In cases where the owner no longer wants responsibility for the animal, the owner may surrender ownership to the Ontario SPCA or an affiliated Humane Society. In more severe cases, circumstances may require the Ontario SPCA, affiliated humane societies, or other law enforcement authorities to remove the animals immediately to provide urgent medical care.
Equally disturbing as neglect is the brutality of intentional cruelty, involving deliberate physical harm or injury inflicted on an animal. Regretfully, cases of animals being beaten, burned, poisoned or stabbed to death are not uncommon. In cases where animals survive, veterinarians often recommend euthanasia due to the extent of the animal's injuries or the extreme suffering involved.
In some cases, neglect or cruelty is the result of people using animals as tools for commercial profit, such as in the cases of puppy mills, dog fighting, cock fighting and illegal slaughterhouses.
Perpetrators of animal cruelty often portray themselves as kindly animal lovers, making it
difficult for people to believe them capable of abuse. From the "friendly" neighbour who
mistreats his pets behind closed doors, to the "respected" community member who operates
a puppy mill or substandard zoo - there is no one identifying feature that marks a person as
capable of committing such unfathomable crimes. Abuse of any animal is upsetting, not only
for the pain and suffering inflicted on the animal, but for the fact that animal abuse is often a
precursor to human-directed violence and an indicator of family crisis. Untreated, any type
of abuse can escalate.
Fortunately, if people witness or hear about animal cruelty and neglect and report it to organizations with cruelty investigation authority, legal action can be taken. Federal, provincial and municipal laws cover animals and are used by Ontario SPCA investigators to protect animals in need. In fact, one of the most powerful ways the public can assist Ontario SPCA investigators with their lifesaving work is to understand how to recognize animal cruelty and to report it to authorities.
Look for these common signs of neglect or intentional cruelty witnessed by Ontario SPCA investigators:
Report suspected animal abuse by calling the Ontario SPCA at 1-888-ONT-SPCA (668-7722),
Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), your local Ontario SPCA Branch, affiliated
Humane Society or police.
Information provided by the OSPCA
© Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes