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Animal Cruelty Prevention

April is National Animal Cruelty Prevention Month. No animal deserves abuse, mistreatment, or neglect. Yes, we all want pets to live the safest and happiest lives possible. But in order to create this for our community, we must become aware of animal cruelty and learn how to help. We can help prevent animal cruelty with the power of the law, organizations that fight for animal rights, and leading by example. Treating your own pet with unconditional love and compassion teaches others around you how they can process anger in healthy ways instead of lashing out at their pet. 

We recognize that the topic of animal cruelty can be uncomfortable, even frightening. No details of animal abuse will be included below, though the idea can still get overwhelming. Thinking about our pets in pain causes fear, anxiety, and sadness. Take caution when reading this article to protect your individual wellbeing. Remember that at the end of the day, love is the most important thing we can give to our pets, each other, and ourselves. 

Local Animal Cruelty Laws

The law has the power to do more for our furry friends. Colorado ranks #4 in the nation for animal protection laws! A few victories we’d like to highlight include the Traveling Exotic Animal Safety Protection Act that prohibits certain wild animals from being used in Colorado circuses. There are also bans on killing contests for coyotes, foxes, and other small mammals as of April 2020. We’re also seeing an upgrade in welfare standards for hens that are used in the egg industry: HB20-1343, which just began in January 2023. 

There are more actions that we can take to provide even better legal protection for animals. A new bill, the Pet Animal Ownership in Housing Bill (H.B. 1068) is under consideration to help protect companion animals and their humans. It will stop insurance companies from discriminating against homeowners based on dog breed, limit the separate “pet rent” that tenants may be required to pay, exclude pets from the categories of a tenant’s personal property to avoid them being taken away in the case of unpaid rent, and ensure that any animals left behind in evicted homes are cared for by a local animal shelter and the information of the animal’s location is shared with their family. This bill passed in the House, then was introduced to the Colorado Senate in March of 2023. Write to your local senator and encourage them to support this bill. To learn more about the local laws already in place for protecting animal cruelty, click here

Colorado even offers an online course for Animal Cruelty Prevention. This is a greater opportunity to learn more about treating all animals with love. It is recognized nationally to satisfy court, legal, or employment requirements. Take the course yourself for personal growth or reach out to others in your community to encourage animal wellbeing and safety. 

Support Paw-Some Organizations

This topic can feel stressful or overwhelming, so it can be hard to know how to help or make change. When we think on an individual level, tackling animal abuse seems impossible. Luckily, as a community we can work together and lean on each other to help every person — and animal — live happily. You can support organizations that fight against animal cruelty and support wagging tails. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, is a great place to start. You can make a one-time or monthly donation, set up planned monetary gifts, volunteer or foster a pet in need, even start your own fundraising campaign. ASPCA also offers information on humanely produced foods to make sure your purchases are supporting well-treated animals. 

The Humane Society also offers many resources to learn about and prevent animal mistreatment. They are currently fighting against fur farming, which exploits foxes, minks, raccoons, dogs, and chinchillas around the world, just to become a fashion statement. Fur farms are terrible for animals and have high health risks to the public. Volunteering and supporting the Boulder Humane Society can make a local impact on the lives of furry friends that deserve happy and healthy lives. You can donate to save the lives of animals in need with a one time contribution or by becoming a monthly donor. This goes toward microchipping a dog or cat, transferring animals out of shelters, saving a life, supporting medical care, and more. For more resources to support locally, click here

Lead with Love

In order to stop the patterns that allow animal abuse, we have to take the first step and show the animals in our lives unconditional love. When this becomes the norm, mistreatment will be easier to spot and stop. Part of being a responsible pet owner is learning about your pet’s needs and doing your best to meet these. This goes beyond just feeding and letting your pet outside when they need it. Take the time to figure out what kinds of affection your furry friend enjoys, how they play, and how they learn. Seek to understand why they might be doing something undesirable, like urinating outside the litter box or barking when the doorbell rings. Don’t be afraid to ask others around you for help in caring for your pet. All animals are deserving of the best quality care. 

It’s also important to avoid harsh punishment for misbehaving. This includes hitting, yanking on their collar or tail, ongoing yelling, and ignoring the animal. This does not teach cats or dogs to change their behaviors, but instead conditions them to feel guilty around undesirable behaviors or feel a general sense of fear and anxiety. Of course, punishment is not the same thing as abuse. When applied with the correct timing and in a constructive manner, some pets may benefit from positive correction. But when correction involves ongoing physical mistreatment, it does a lot more harm than good. Proper and appropriate training is designed to make an undesired behavior decrease, and if this is not working, the training is not effective and must be reassessed and changed. Instead of punishing, focus on teaching your pet the desirable behavior in various situations or redirect them to other actions. Learn more about punishment and what it means for training your pet here. 

At Harmony Veterinary Center, we encourage animal safety and promote speaking up if you see an animal in your community that is in danger. Especially while an abusive situation is going on, put your own physical and emotional safety first. Resources are available for reporting possible animal cruelty. Also, you can enlist the help of those in your community to remind others that animal mistreatment is not acceptable. If you can, offer help or support to pet owners that aren’t able to give their companions enough care. As a community, we can better the lives of pets and people.