There was a time not too long ago that dog abuse and neglect came very close to us. As close as our neighbors backyard. And this neglect happened in one of the wealthiest communities in Indiana - it can happen anywhere, anytime.
We watched as our neighbor dog was tied up in his backyard all day long, in the blistering 90 degree heat and the icy cold of winter, with no water, no food, while his 'parents' were at work. It was horrifying to watch this pup waste away to nothing over the course of a year.
Without getting arrested, Mum tried defiantly to help the pup - through the humane society, animal control, the local animal welfare organizations and advocacy groups, the police department, the sheriff, all to no avail. She knew she couldn't be arrested, because then there would be no one to take care of us!
Then one day, they left the pup untied, roaming the neighborhood. That's when Mum was able to take action - and that's when we saw just how bad of health the dog really was. His nails had not been trimmed in well over a year and he could not walk properly. His teeth were bleeding and his rotting gums were visible. His coat was shedding so badly, Mum got a fist full of fur every time she calmed the pup. He had to water the lawn nearly every five minutes - and his ribs were so visible that it made Mum's heart break. The poor pup was clearly in pain.
That's the day she called the police and begged them to do something. Since the pup was in our yard and being fed and watered, this time the police had to come to our house, and they had to do something. And they did, however not exactly what Mum wanted. They ended up calling the owner at his place of work to come and get the dog - told him he had to have a vet look at the pup and report back to them. It was the next day that Mum saw a full bag of dog food put out with their trash on trash day. The pup was gone.
We are sure the pup is in a much better place. We are sure he is no longer in pain. But the whole entire year of watching this unfold and unable to get anyone to do anything was heartbreaking to Mum and left an indelible impression. And the fact that when someone in authority finally did something, it was too late.
As Mum worked through the processes of each of the organizations she contacted, she began to learn a lot about the law and how it pertains to animals. She visited animal abuse sites, Googled animal law, read many sites about criminal law and property law (because in Indiana that's what pups are consider, property) - all in an effort to gain knowledge of how she could help the pup.
Here are just a few of the useful sites she frequented:
- Animal Legal Defense Fund
- ASPCA - Reporting animal abuse
- American Humane - Understanding The Link Between Animal Abuse and Family Violence
- City of Carmel website - to gain knowledge of the local laws affecting animals
There are hundreds of thousands of cases just like this that happen all of the US, and the world. Many, many cases that are even more horrific. Abusers come in all shapes and sizes, all status of wealth or poverty, male and female, young and old, they could be living across town, or right next to you, you may even know them.
We hope that someday, someway, there will be a time when authorities, like the police department and sheriff, will recognize that they need to enforce the local laws, even in one of the wealthiest counties in Indiana. That the animal welfare organizations in our area won't feel compelled to follow 'procedures' that go no where to help a pup in need. We hope that the laws that affect the pups will be enforced, updated and enacted to keep up with the growing and growing state of abuse and neglect in this country. And we hope that the through some of these actions, the sheer volume will decrease so that these organizations will be able to keep up with demand to help those in need. We hope that people all across this nation and the World will recognize that pups and other animals are sentient beings; and treat them with the respect, love and care that they deserve.
It's a lot to hope for. But we believe there is always hope.