It is disheartening to learn of acts of animal cruelty that seem to continue despite the concerted efforts of so many animal welfare agencies dedicated to the prevention of animal mistreatment. We recently learned of an incident where a young man hiking in the forest found two Chow mix puppies that had obviously been abandoned. These little guys were no more than four weeks old, and had been left alone to face whatever fate might befall them.
Fortunately, the fellow who found these pups was able to locate a rescue agency that could take them, and it appears that these two are going to be OK. However, this form of animal cruelty seems to be on the increase. While the cases that are discovered can be quantified, we can only guess at the number of unknown instances that are now occurring with regularity.
Animal cruelty as defined by various statutes is clearly against the law in most jurisdictions. However, vigorous enforcement of the laws is the key to a successful outcome. In Maricopa County, for example, the sheriff’s office has dedicated a team of investigators to check out thousands of animal abuse reports that come in annually. This team has been in place for the past seven years. Involved officials say it’s a way not only to educate the public about the proper care of animals, but also to target abusers who could be working up to violence against humans. Some experts claim animal abuse is often the starting point of an escalation to child abuse, domestic violence, or murder and serial killing.
Closer to home, the Northern Arizona Animal Cruelty Task Force (NAACTF) was formed in cooperation with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s office. The mission statement of this group includes the following: “To increase awareness of animal cruelty laws in Northern Arizona; to enhance and coordinate enforcement of animal cruelty laws; and to educate law enforcement, animal care professionals and other agencies in aspects of animal cruelty and the relationship of animal cruelty to other forms of assault related behavior.” The members of NAACTF include representatives from most of the local animal welfare agencies.
The NAACTF has established an animal cruelty hotline you can call to report instances of animal cruelty. The phone number is 771-3595. You can leave a recorded message with the option of furnishing your name, address and phone number. However, we urge you to exercise good judgment and consider the seriousness of your allegation before making a report. Frivolous reports will only burden the system and dilute its effectiveness.
We acknowledge that much progress has been made over the years through education and various programs by animal welfare groups to increase public awareness of the widespread problem of animal cruelty. Yet it persists. And at times like the present, we seem to be losing ground, especially when we encounter those who don’t realize abandonment constitutes animal cruelty.
More effort needs to be expended. In addition to reporting animal cruelty, you can help by making your feelings known to elected officials. Also, when specific cases are involved, let the presiding judge and other officials know of your concern by insisting on strict enforcement of the existing laws.