Is It Abuse?

September 13th, 2016

We are all aware of pets dying after being left in hot cars and the sight of animals being physically abused, starved or neglected.  These are obvious examples of animal abuse.  But what constitutes abuse?  How does one know when to interfere or take action?  Legally the definition of animal abuse differs by state.  But below are a five freedoms of animals based on the Farm Animal Welfare Guidelines developed for cattle in the United Kingdom in 1979 which help define whether an animal is considered to be suffering and therefore, perhaps abused.

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst.  Animals should be provided with adequate fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor.
  2. Freedom from discomfort.  Animals should be provided with shelter and a comfortable resting area in an appropriate environment.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease.  Animals should have appropriate health care including disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to express normal behavior.  Animals should be provided with sufficient space, proper facilities and company of its own kind.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress.  Conditions and treatment of animals should ensure that mental suffering is avoided.

According to experts, failure to provide any of these conditions can constitute suffering and could potentially be considered abuse.

Many of these cases may be inadvertent, pet owners not being knowledgeable about animal care or being in a situation where they are unable to care for an animal’s needs.  In those cases perhaps all the pet owners need is some guidance or help in caring for their animals.  We should all be advocates for animals and be mindful of the treatment they receive and the conditions in which they exist.  In cases of true abuse, the authorities should be contacted as soon as possible and as often as necessary to get results.

Remember, as the great Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”