April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. Over the course of the month, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and other animal rescue organizations around the country hold fundraising campaigns and sponsor events to call attention to the plight of abused and neglected animals and to encourage participation in ongoing animal welfare campaigns and advocacy programs.
But you don’t have to wait until April rolls around to get started helping abused and neglected animals, as there are tons of things you can do right now, from being good to your pets to donating to organizations that work to reduce animal neglect and cruelty. Read on to learn more about animal cruelty and neglect and how to help.
What is Animal Cruelty and Neglect?
Animal cruelty takes place both intentionally and unintentionally. It can involve physical abuse or result from neglect. Organized groups can be responsible, as can individuals. Cats, dogs, horses, and farm animals are the most commonly impacted animals. Neglect often results from hoarding behavior, which can be related to certain mental illnesses.
The exact extent of the problem is difficult to determine, partly because federal agencies and most state governments in the US don’t track animal cruelty statistics. Most incidents of cruelty and neglect don’t end up reported. Many farming practices, such as debeaking chickens and castrating animals without anesthesia, are legal but decried as cruel by organizations like the Humane League.
And there are even differences between nations regarding what constitutes cruelty. Breeds such as Corgis, Poodles, and Boxers regularly have their tails docked in the US, where the practice is largely accepted. But the UK’s Animal Welfare Act 2006 defines tail docking as cruel. However, the law does provide exceptions for certain types of working dogs if a veterinarian carries out the procedure.
What Can I Do to Help Prevent Animal Cruelty and Neglect? 5 Ideas
There are several steps you can take to help make the world a better place for animals, including donating to animal welfare organizations that do work that aligns with your values. Below you’ll find five ways to support animal welfare.
1. Make a Donation
If you don’t have much time on your hands but would like to do something to help abused and neglected animals, consider making a donation to an animal welfare organization. Many organizations are doing wonderful things in the animal welfare field, including places like Farm Sanctuary that take in animals rescued from factory farms and national organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that support legislative and on-the-ground anti-animal cruelty initiatives.
2. Become a Volunteer
Most shelters and other animal welfare organizations need volunteers, and many have several options ranging from short one-time opportunities that only require a commitment of a few hours to long-term work on policy teams. They have opportunities for those interested in interacting with animals, such as providing care and socialization for pets waiting to be adopted.
However, several organizations also welcome remote volunteers and individuals who can help out with administrative tasks like placing phone calls and updating records.
3. Consider Adoption
If you’re thinking of adding an animal companion to your household, consider adopting one from a local shelter. Rescue cats and dogs make amazing pets! It’s impossible to measure or describe the love that rescue cats and dogs bring into homes worldwide.
Most shelters give pets a medical checkup before putting them up for adoption, and some include vaccinations and spaying or neutering in the adoption fee.
4. Give Vintage a Try and Go Meat-Free One Day a Week
There are a few easy ways to show a little kindness to animals without revamping your life, including buying vintage clothes and lowering your meat consumption. When it comes to fashion, vintage is in. Consider hitting a super-chic second-hand store for leather jackets and belts instead of purchasing new products.
Going just one day a week without meat may boost your heart health and could help reduce the impact factory farming has on the earth. Over time small individual dietary changes may help reduce the number of animals slaughtered for food by increasing the overall social acceptance of reduced meat diets. Reducing your meat intake can also reduce your food bill!
5. Consider Fostering a Cat or Dog
Fostering pets is a great way to experience animal companionship without signing up for a long-term commitment. Shelters often turn to volunteers willing to take pets into their homes during busy periods when more space is needed.
These volunteers are also called on to provide homes to animals needing a bit more attention because of a medical condition. Most organizations provide training and all the basics, such as food, toys, beds, and even medical care, and they are happy to accommodate volunteer requests for short or long-term placements.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month comes around every April. The ASPCA and other animal welfare organizations organize fundraising drives and campaigns to raise public awareness about animal cruelty and neglect. Cruelty can be intentional or result from neglect, and it can be tightly organized or informal.
A simple, universal definition of animal cruelty doesn’t exist, and practices considered cruel in one place may be acceptable elsewhere. There are still things you can do to support animal welfare while respecting the remarkable diversity of our world, like fostering a pet, eating just a bit less meat, and hitting the vintage store for second-hand leather goods.
Featured Image Credit: Mimzy, Pixabay