April is Animal Cruelty Awareness Month

In this unprecedented time of social distancing we find ourselves under a lot of stress and uncertainty about how this pandemic is affecting our mental, financial, and physical selves. It has also affected our furry friends but they may see it as a positive. Maybe we need to look at it from their perspective. They are thrilled to have more opportunity to spend time with those they love. They get more cuddles and walks then in months past. They are not left to wander aimlessly around the house and instead get to be involved in daily activities of fun and fellowship with family. Our pets can be a source of calm and distraction at the same time. It is amazing to me the number of new pets being bought during this time of social distancing. People are realizing they now have the time to invest in a furry new friend and are taking that step as a pet owner.

Those that handle abuse situations indicate these trying times can bring about more cases of abuse due to the uncertainty of our daily lives as well. Statistics indicate that homes suspected of child abuse had an 88% history of animal abuse also. We know that abuse happens more often in relationship to mental and financial stress. Our nation is truly in a state of mental and financial distress. If you or someone you love appears to be struggling with the current situation, please reach out to someone for help before any abuse whether animal or human can occur. There are professionals waiting to help during these difficult times. Many have programs to help with the financial barriers encountered when seeking out professional help.

Animal cruelty and abuse can come in many forms. A large percentage of the animal abuse cases involve dogs. Animal hoarding is the #1 animal cruelty crisis. Often a person does not start out hoarding animals but instead has a deep compassion for their struggles. As they take on more mouths to feed, they are no longer able to do basic care such as spay and neutering. The population explodes within their environment as new puppies and kittens arrive. Before they realize it, they are behind in basic health and nutritional needs. They have more waste then they ever thought possible. The almighty dollar does not stretch far enough so buying food for the masses becomes the priority and everything else is left behind. Disease and behavioral issues develop and the hoarding is in full swing.

Other forms of animal cruelty are dog and bull fighting, neglect, puppy mills, animals used in the entertainment industry for financial gain. Some would classify big game hunting or agricultural practices within the realm of animal cruelty also. It is easy for us to point fingers at some group or organization that does not hold the same convictions as ourselves when evaluating animal cruelty. In the last few years, my husband and I attended classes relating to foster and adoptive children. In those classes we were made aware that the standards around raising children can be acceptable at many levels. Just because we may not consider it normal does not make it abuse. I think this needs to be considered in relationship to animals as well. When clients visit Winterset Veterinary Center, it is our job to treat these patients and provide the best standard of care. Now whether that person chooses to agree to that standard is their decision. We do not judge them for their decision. We accept what they are willing and able to do. They may have a different normal in their minds.  We will discuss the different options available at each level of care. Always keeping in mind that this patient shall be comfortable and not suffering. People appreciate our approach to care and our nonjudgemental platform. There is no way we can know what each family is going through as they present this patient. These decisions can be agonizing for the owners and we do not want to add any additional burdens to their situation. Our standard may be different but that does not make it the norm.

As we continue during our time of social distancing please remember to stay safe and look out for one another. Whether that is your neighbor or your furry friend. Keep a close watch on the needs of others. We can get through this. Hopefully, we can be a much kinder and gentler nation of the other side of Covid-19!