There is a shocking amount of animal cruelty cases reported in the media daily, and with recent controversy over the flamingo deaths in Hattiesburg, it is only appropriate to bring further awareness to the ongoing battle to end animal abuse.
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that nearly one million animals are abused or killed in connection with domestic violence each year. HumaneSociety.org reports the media reveals the most commonly reported victims of animal cruelty cases are dogs, particularly pitbull types. The Hub City Humane Society takes in an average of 1,800 animals per year.
Many of the animals are in poor condition.
“Perhaps 5 percent have injuries associated with being hurt by a person in some way. If the animal has been kept on a chain it is usually damaged emotionally,” said Brenda Sumrall, doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) on the board for Hub City Humane Society and owner of Advanced Pet Care.
Most animal abuse and neglect cases go unreported. “As a veterinarian, it is very disheartening to see animals abused in any way. Some of these pets are vicious but it is a very small percentage. Usually the aggressive ones are just frightened,” Sumrall said.
For a better understanding of the term neglect, the Humane Society explains it as “not giving an animal the right food, water, shelter or vet care.” Because most neglected animals are in an unhealthy state for extensive periods of time, they can suffer just as much as animals who are purposefully harmed.
“Most animals are grossly neglected, but some do show evidence of abuse. Scout, a young terrier mixed breed, was found by a young man recently in a rural area of south Mississippi. She had a telephone cord embedded in the skin around her neck and required surgical debridement by a veterinarian,” said Christine Gibson, DVM of Animal Advocate.
Shelters often euthanize severely abused and aggressive animals and even resort to euthanization for unaggressive animals as a result of a lack of space.
“Some of the animals that we have tried to rescue have been vicious,” Gibson said. “There are hundreds of animals being euthanized in shelters across the country every day that have never shown aggression nor have they bitten anybody. In some situations it takes a veterinary professional and sedatives to capture these poor creatures and to see that they receive a humane death. Isn’t it ironic that we use the word ‘humane’ in these cases?”
Raising awareness of animal cruelty issues start within your community. “Humane protection laws are one solution when common sense and decency fail,” Gibson said. “Taking responsibility for your own pets or your roommates pets seems like a no brainer, but many well-meaning people are guilty of letting unaltered pets roam free.
They are also guilty of not providing basic veterinary care for their pets.” Mississippi has strengthened its animal cruelty laws and is working toward creating safer environments for animals. “The laws in Mississippi are frustrating but are getting stronger. Now abuse can be a felony charge,” Sumrall said. “To become more involved read up on the laws and contact elected officials about areas you feel are very lax.”