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Neighborhood Watch for Pet Safety

One smart way to help prevent and stop animal cruelty, start a Neighborhood Watch for Pets. "Public involvement is a key to stopping animal cruelty," notes Virginia Prevas, First Strike campaign manager for the Humane Society of the United States. "We are aware of cruelty cases in which animals could have been rescued or saved had neighbors, family members, friends, or concerned citizens paid attention to warning signs."

An example: two dogs might have been saved had neighbors realized that the canines' constant barking and scratching at an interior apartment door meant that they were abandoned and hungry. One neighbor testified that he thought the scratching was coming from squirrels. The dogs, Chloe and Tuck, were eventually found in a decomposed state in the abandoned apartment. The dog's owner was convicted of two counts of animal abandonment, and sentenced to pay $2,124 in fines and spend 60 days in jail.

But there are also cases in which citizens took action to save animals who were victims of cruelty. In June 2002, Pamela Winchell of Stockton, California noticed smoke coming from an abandoned septic tank. She went to investigate and found a female shepherd-mix puppy hanging from a hose in the tank, which was filled with burning debris. She rescued the dog just in time. A 12-year-old boy was later charged with arson and animal cruelty.

To help protect animals in your community, follow these suggestions from www.hsus.org:

* Know Your Neighborhood's Pets. That way, when you see an animal out alone, you'll be more likely to know how to contact his or her owner or how to get the animal home. Create a neighborhood list of pets and pet owners to use in emergencies. Include pets' names, basic descriptions or photographs, and contact information. Encourage all pet owners to keep collars and identification tags on their pets. Keep the phone number for your local animal shelter or animal control agency handy in case you see a pet you don't know or an animal who needs assistance.

* Pay Attention to Abuse, Neglect, and Abandonment. A dog left chained or tethered outside without food, water or shelter. A sick or injured animal whose condition goes untreated. A house teeming with cats. An animal showing obvious signs of abuse. A neighborhood child who throws rocks at squirrels. Pets left behind in homes or apartments, or on the street, when their owners move. All are cases of neglect and abuse that put animals in danger. They may also violate the law. You can help by being observant.

* Help Stop Abuse: Is a situation getting worse? Do you hear barking, whimpering, meowing or scratching from inside a home after the resident has moved? Do you see an act of overt cruelty? Don't turn your back. But don't put yourself at risk. To avoid direct confrontation, call the police or your local animal shelter immediately. And if you hear of increasing cases of animal abuse, there could be a serial abuser in your area.

Statistics from the Humane Society of the United States First Strike Campaign's 2002 report of animal cruelty cases:

The report gathered information from 1,400 animal cruelty cases involving approximately 1,674 perpetrators. Details are at www.hsus.org/ace/18739

* There were 830 casesb or 59 percentb involved intentional cruelty and 570b or 41 percentb involved extreme animal neglect.

* 76 percent of cruelty cases involved companion animalsb 15 percent farm animalsb 5 percent wildlifeb 2 percent exotic animals and 2 percent multiple types.

Resources:

Humane Society of the United States First Strike and other anti-cruelty programs
www.hsus.org

American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
www.aspca.org

Animal Legal Defense Fund Zero Tolerance for Cruelty Program
www.aldf.org/action.asp?sect=action

Laws, Legislation, Model Legislation, Guidance, Working with Legislators
www.aldf.org/content.asp?sect=action$ionid=3

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For more Dog Tips about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at:
www.paw-rescue.org

Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc.
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768


Last Updated: July 02, 2013 (LET) PawSupport