RESEARCH AND ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY NITA RAO
There is nothing more heartbreaking than an abused animal, and there is no reason why any animal should have to suffer abuse. Animal cruelty is a felony in all 50 states, and abuse toward animals is repeatedly seen as an indicator of future violent crime. Learn how to help the animals in your community in many ways:
The Humane Society offers opportunities to help any local animal in all 50 states and is always accepting new volunteers. Volunteer duties range from working directly with animal rescue and response teams to organizing community outreach events and save animals that are abused.
Start an initiative to raise awareness about the physical and environmental signs of animal abuse. Create fliers with information about the warning signs, and include resources for how to report animal cruelty.
Many animals who suffer abuse also require costly surgery. Depending on the nature of the injury or illness, veterinary costs including surgery can exceed $8,000 for one. Surgery can be lifesaving, and starting a free fundraiser can help. Contact your local shelter of animals to find one in need, and start a fundraiser to help cover the cost of vet bills. Make sure to include a breakdown of medical expenses in your fundraiser to show donors the cost of treatment.
When pet owners can no longer take care of their pet, some may see abandoning them as the only option. Animal abandonment is a widespread issue, with only 11% of animals entering shelters as strays returned to their owners. Read below for a few ideas on how to help the abandoned.
Often, organizations will step in to help rescue animals and bring them to safety. Rescue and rehoming efforts are costly, and many organizations rely on the generosity of donors to continue their efforts. By starting an animal fundraiser, you can rally support for rescue organizations in your community and spread awareness on ways you can help.
Abandoned pets usually end up at a shelter. Most shelters are either understaffed or in need of resources, and your role as a volunteer can be a big part in filling that gap. Volunteer duties can range from feeding, walking, and playing with the shelter animals, to general duties like keeping the kennels clean or greeting visitors.
Many shelters also offer the option to sponsor an individual pet. Usually, these animals are difficult to rehome, sometimes due to either behavioral or medical issues. As long-term residents of the shelter, your donation will help cover their ongoing cost of care. You’ll also be able to visit your sponsor creature and take them on walks. Starting a fundraiser can be a great way to raise money to sponsor one, if not many, shelter animals.
Millions of stray dogs and cats live in the United States alone. These numbers increase every year, and it is estimated that only one out of every ten dogs will find a permanent home. See below for a few ideas for helping homeless animals.
Organize a fun community event as a way to raise funds to help a shelter. A couple of fundraising tips include sharing your fundraiser with family and friends and promoting your cause on social media. Some community fundraising ideas include a walk-a-thon for people and their pets, organizing a car wash, or hosting a silent auction.
The staggering number of homeless animals is due in large part to overpopulation, something which is easily preventable through proper spaying and neutering. Organize a fundraiser to support spay and neuter programs in your area.
Most cities have an animal welfare department, and volunteers are always needed. Animal control is often the first to know about homeless animals, and many of these animals end up at the city’s shelter. Volunteer duties could include socializing and walking dogs, or assisting with adoption paperwork.
While there are over 3 million animals adopted from shelters each year, this is less than half the total number of dogs and cats entering U.S. animal shelters on an annual basis. Adopting a shelter animal fills an urgent need, and often brings irreplaceable joy to the individuals and families that do adopt. Learn how to help animals get adopted in your area:
An adoption event can be an effective way for a lot of animals to quickly find their forever home. You can organize an independent event and share with your colleagues, family, and friends, or partner with an animal shelter to host a larger event. Spread the word about the event on social media, and consider including fun community activities such as a raffle or bake sale, with proceeds benefiting your local shelter.
Becoming a foster parent to a dog or cat in need of a home can be rewarding for everyone involved. Fostering an animal helps relieve crowded shelters, and gives that animal a higher chance at a quick adoption. Taking your foster dog to community events or parks is a fun activity for you both, and a great way to let others know the animal is available for adoption.
Pick a platform of your choice, and create a page dedicated to showcasing animals in need of adoption. Focus on one specific category to gain the most traction, such as location, breed, or species. Feature animals from different shelters, and follow up with a success story after each adoption.
Many people have used online fundraising to successfully raise money to help animals in need. See a few examples below of how others are using crowdfunding to make a positive impact in the lives of animals.
Brian and Carey created a fundraiser to benefit the Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, a no-kill shelter in Napa Valley. They each ran a 50-mile ultramarathon to raise money for the ranch and collected nearly $6,000 in donations.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, countless animals were left abandoned and homeless. Pamela started a fundraiser to collect donations to support the animal evacuation effort, as the lives of animals remaining in shelters near the coast were in danger. Pamela was able to raise more than her $5,000 goal, resulting in close to 200 animals transported to safety.
When a member of their community reached out in need, the team at ASH Animal Rescue knew they had to help. The organization, a non profit, no-kill shelter in Ireland, started an emergency fundraiser to help cover the cost of rescuing and rehoming 70 dogs from a private residence. Donations covered the cost of medical treatment, vaccinations, food, and transport. Thanks to generous donors, hey nearly doubled their $8,000 goal.
The bond between animals and humans is both unique and special. We can all do our part to ensure animals in need get the help they deserve. If there is a cause close to your heart, a free fundraiser can help. Sign up today to start your free fundraiser for helping animals in need, and see what kind of an impact you can make when you bring people together around a common goal.
If you are planning to visit a country that permits or encourages bullfighting, please tell your travel agent you are opposed to animal cruelty in any form. Many tourist resorts are building bullfight arenas as part of their "recreation" facilities; refuse to stay at such a resort, and write a letter to the owner explaining why you will not stay there. Instead, visit the resort town of Tossa de Mar, which was the first town in Spain to ban bullfights and related advertising. Tell others the facts about bullfighting and urge them to protest as well. When tourists stop attending bullfights, profiteers will stop the cruelty. Bloody or bloodless, bullfighting is a senseless, degrading spectacle that has no place in a civilized society.
There are three types of dog fighting operations: street fighting, hobbyist fighting, and professional fighting.
Since there are a wide variety of issues associated with dog fighting, it is best to read literature from different sources to understand its depth and breadth. To learn more about this crime, visit any of the following organizations online for additional information:
Since dog fighting is considered an “underground” activity, it can be very difficult to pinpoint when it occurs. However, there are signs which can help you tip off local authorities to potential fighting operations.
According to the HSUS, these signs may include:
Pit bulls on heavy chains
If you witness a dog fight, the first thing you should do is call 911, since dog fighting is a felony crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Provide as much information as you can to the 911 dispatcher including the date and time, a description of the activities and those involved (both people and animals), and the location of the fight. Photographic and video evidence can also play an important role in prosecuting abusers, but never put yourself in harm’s way or become a spectator.
If you have not witnessed a dog fight, but suspect this type of activity is happening in your community, you can contact your local animal control and provide a description of your concern which may include identifying the signs listed out in action step number two. You can also call a dog fighting hotline such as the HSUS tip line, which offers a reward of up to $5,000 if a tip leads to the conviction of a dogfighter. Check out One Green Plant’s Animal Rescue Hotline directory to find dog fighting hotlines in your community.
After you have contacted the proper authorities and alerted them to a dog fight in progress or suspected dog fighting activities, you can also contact your local media outlets and provide them with tips about what is happening (or has happened) in your community. Media channels are always searching for stories and investigative ones may spark great interest. What’s more, working with the media has the potential to raise awareness about dog fighting and the plight of fighting dogs. Even if you may not have details about suspected fighting activities, you can always pitch local media outlets about dog fighting rescue stories as they also have the potential to garner a large amount of attention.
Even though dog fighting is already a felony in all 50 states, loopholes can be closed and penalties can be increased through legislation and amendments. To encourage policy change in your community, be sure to contact your elected officials either at the local, state, or national level and ask them to support any pending dog fighting legislation or other bills aimed at increasing animal cruelty charges.
If you would like to take this action a step further, you can schedule a meeting with your state legislators to discuss implementing a recommended amendment drafted by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) which would “enable prosecutors to charge dogfighters under the respective state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (commonly referred to as “RICO”) statue. Applied to animal fighting, RICO … would give prosecutors increased muscle in seeking justice for animals abused … and executed by their owners,” as the ALDF reports.
Signing online petitions is an easy way to help animals without leaving your home. Petitions may require less than a minute to sign (or just a bit longer if you choose to personalize your message), but they can have far-reaching impacts as they are increasingly becoming a standard method of action against injustices. Search “dog fighting” on Change.org and Care2 to find current petitions related to ending cruel dog fights and strengthening action against them.
There are a variety of ways you can educate others about dog fighting and its victims. One of the easiest ways to get involved is by spreading the word using social media — share fact sheets, take action opportunities, rescue stories, photos, and videos. If you prefer a slightly elevated action, consider printing out posters and posting them around your local community. The HSUS has two types available – one set that details how to spot dog fighting and another sheet that provides information about a $5,000 tip reward.
To take public education one step further, consider hosting a screening of “Off the Chain,” a documentary which traces how the image of American Pit Bull Terriers has changed throughout American culture with a special focus on how these dogs are used and abused for dog fighting.
While there are a number of dog breeds used in fighting operations including Dogo Argentino, Presa Canario, Fila Brasilerio, and the Tosa Inu, American Pit Bull Terriers are considered the “dog of choice.” Yet, simply because dogfighters favor pit bulls for their blood sport does not mean pit bulls are inherently dangerous. Rather, they are forced into adopting aggressive behaviors through cruel training methods aimed at preparing them for a fight to the death.
If treated with kindness and trained properly, pits bulls are like any other dog– they just want to give love and be loved, if only we’d give them the chance.
Since pit bulls are often victims of dog fighting and negative stereotypes, you can help improve their lot by dispelling myths about them through social media, letters to the editor, and other forms of advocacy. You can also spread around positive pit bull press such as video reports about pit bulls saving people or any heartwarming rescue stories like the following:
By supporting a local shelter or rescue through volunteering, fundraising, or donations, you are helping to save the lives of abandoned and abused animals. This is an important step in stamping out any type of cruelty — dog fighting or otherwise — as it helps take care of abuse victims and increases compassion for (and awareness about) them.
Consider supporting shelters or rescues that are known to care for pit bull-type dogs and take in former fighting dogs such as Detroit Bully Corps, Villalobos Rescue Center, Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue, Ambassador Pit Bulls Rescue, Lovers Not Fighters Pit Bull Rescue, or Best Friends Animal Society.
In addition to supporting local shelters and rescues, you can become an active member of an animal rescue network and be directly involved in saving animals from fighting operations and other cruelty situations. Contact your local animal shelter or control and inquiry about animal rescue volunteer opportunities that may exist. You can also check out the HSUS’s Animal Rescue Team which helps “save animals who are victims of illegal animal cruelty and natural disasters.”
Image source: Ildar Sagdejev / Wikipedia Commons
Feeling outraged? So are we. But you can help stop this cruelty! Your support could help rescue gentle moon bears, and care for the victims of bile farming, too.
With the right technical assistance and packages of better genetics, management practice and inputs, switching crops could be an opportunity for smaller farmers struggling with current crops to leapfrog previous performance and become more productive.
Certain foods are produced from animals who have been raised or slaughtered in an especially inhumane manner. Unlike foods such as eggs, pork, and chicken—which can come from animals raised either on “factory farms” or higher-welfare farms—these foods always involve significant animal suffering, and should be avoided.
MILK-FED VEAL: Milk-fed or “white” veal comes from very young calves (often under one month of age) who have been confined to limit their exercise and muscle development. The animals are also typically fed a diet lacking in iron and fiber to produce pale, tender flesh.
FROG LEGS: Frogs are being eaten to extinction with possibly 1 billion taken from the wild each year. Frog-farming operations almost never kill the animals humanely.
FOIE GRAS: French for “fatty liver,” this dish is made from the liver of ducks or geese, which have been unnaturally enlarged by ramming a feeding pipe down the birds’ throats twice each day to force-feed them.
CRUSTACEANS: Scientific research suggests that lobsters, crabs, and crayfish are capable of feeling pain. These animals are not rendered unconscious before they are killed, but are instead almost always cooked alive.
LIVE SASHIMI: Various species of aquatic animals are dismembered while still alive and sent out squirming on a plate. Octopus, among the most intelligent of invertebrates, is sometimes served alive, and shrimp may be stunned in liquor and then served alive in a dish called drunken shrimp.
SHARK FIN SOUP: As many as 73 million sharks are killed for their fins each year. Sharks are typically caught in open water and have their fins cut off before they are tossed back into the sea to drown, bleed to death, or be eaten by other animals. Shark finning is illegal in US waters and some US states ban the sale or possession of shark fins.
The rearing of farm animals today is dominated by industrialized operations known as confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs, or “factory farms”) that maximize profits by treating animals not as sentient creatures, but as production units. Raised by the thousands at a single location, animals in factory farms are confined in such tight quarters that they can barely move, let alone behave naturally.
Factory farms not only mistreat animals, they also pollute the environment and endanger the health and well-being of their workers and residents of the surrounding community. They consume large quantities of natural resources and lower community property values.
Local opposition is among the most effective ways to fight the construction or expansion of animal factories. In fact, small groups of local activists across the country have succeeded in keeping factory farms out of many communities. If you learn about a planned development in your area, here are a few things you can do to stop it:
Other ways to help farm animals: