Good Research Paper About Human Responsibility And The Plight Of Homeless Animals
Volunteering at Animal Shelters
Millions of animals each year become candidates for animal shelter in British Columbia. Although not every unwanted pet becomes a ward of a shelter, many of them do. Once in the shelter, every attempt is made to find a loving home for the animal. Whether the animal is a dog, cat, rabbit, bird, horse, or other creature eligible for adoption, standards and practices are mandatory for their effective care. Unfortunately, due to massive overpopulation it sometimes becomes necessary to euthanize unwanted animals after a period of time. In order to address the plight of these animals, research was done into the various types of shelters, the people who work in them, and the steps they take to promote the health and well-being of their charges.
According to the Humane Society, only 2.2 to 15 percent of the dogs and .2 to 3% of the cats surrendered to or rescued by shelter find new homes (Humanesocietynational.org). The rest are sold to laboratories or dealers or are killed. On the average, 25 percent of the animals killed are purebred. In some areas, the percentage of purebred animals is 50 percent. Surprisingly, the most popular breeds are among the highest numbers found in shelters due to overbreeding.
This type of behavior is against the moral purpose of civilized societies. Most humans seek to prevent the suffering of animals. Statistics are not available for the numbers of animals euthanized in Canada annually, but in the United States the total runs around 3.5 million unwanted pets (Statisticbrain.com). However, the number of dogs going to new homes after coming into an animal shelter are around 20 percent, and the number of cats are 25%.
Morality beyond volunteering
Many shelters run strictly on volunteer staffs and all of them accept the assistance of qualified volunteers for responsibilities such as cleaning cages, exercising and socializing the animals, and working in events for donation solicitation. But morality concerning pets runs far deeper than giving time to a local animal shelter. It lies in the attitude toward pet ownership.
A person or family takes in a pet for a number of reasons, but the main one is companionship. But if the animal causes problems due to unrealistic expectations or inadequate training, an immoral pet owner may simply drop the animal at a shelter, give it away to a home without screening the new owners or, even worse, dump it on the side of a road or highway and drive away.
Sometimes an elderly person dies and leaves behind a beloved companion. Particularly when the animal is aged, it is very difficult for it to adjust to a new environment and few potential owners are interested in a pet that will be requiring expensive medical care. The family members may see surrendering the animal to a shelter as the only option when simply working with the pet could offer solutions. A dog adopted as a “watch dog” is not a pet and is not treated like one. Although a dog does not come into the house, such as a working dog on a ranch, many times they are still treated with the respect and love a house dog receives.
Frequently, the excuse of “moving” is given for surrendering a pet. They may state the new landlord does not allow pets or there is no room for it at the new location. But if a responsible owner already has the animal, why do they opt to move into a home that does not allow their pet or where there is no room for it? The immorality lies in the lack of consideration for the future of the animal who has placed his life in the hands of his owner. A study shows that more than half the time, moving causes behavioral or transportation problems with the pet the owner does not want to contend with in the hassle of relocating (Towell).
When new parents have a child who misbehaves, there are steps they take to train them. They rarely just abandon them somewhere. It the child has health problems, they spend the time and money to cure it. And adopting a pet carries with it the same responsibilities and moral obligations. The pet was selected by the new owner and brought into the environment. If he doesn’t understand what is expected of him, it is the responsibility of the owner to take the steps to teach him how to behave.
An email interview was conducted with Natalie, the secretary for Angel’s Animal Rescue Society. Natalie stated they do not euthanize their rescue animals and rarely have returns of adoptees. She stated this is primarily due to the extensive screening they conduct prior to releasing an animal to a new home. The organization is run by a Board of Directors, and all of the staff are volunteers.
Aside from the inhumanity of the destruction of unwanted pets, the activities of animal shelters are a drain on public funds and the limited philanthropy of individuals. It is for this reason that local governments are paying attention to actions to decrease the unwanted animal population and punish irresponsible pet owners.
Families think that buying a dog from a breeder providing papers for purebreeding quarantees a healthy animal. Predigree papers only allow tracing a bloodline back to a specific animal and make no promises concerning health. In fact, in an effort to make as much money as possible, many purebred dogs come from “puppy mills” where the females are bred as often as possible. This promotes life-threatening and painful condition. Inbreeding results in hip dysplasia in larger breed, respiratory problems with breeds having short noses, and spinal disc ailments in breeds such as dachshunds. Spaying also decreases the chances of ovarian or uterine cancer, uterine infection, and eliminates false pregnancies. The risk of cancer and other diseases is also lessened. Overall, neutered and spayed animals live almost twice as long as those not surgically sterilized due to physical and behavioral benefits.
There are many benefits to spaying a pet. It prevents reproductive cycling so packs of male animals are not attractive to a female for breeding. This decreases the urge of pets of both genders to roam away from home. Neighbors and the police don’t complain about animal running loose that may be dangerous, destructive, or noisy.
Many shelters offer printed information and classes on dealing with the most common behavioral problems. Some organizations even have telephone hotlines for education dispersal. Visitors to animal shelters are screened for possible educational needs and after adoption new owners are encouraged to contact the shelter for assistance with any problems that may arise.
Animal shelters would like to see all adoption come through a regulation organization. When prospective pet owners respond to advertisements for free animals, buy from a breeder or a pet store, or get an animal from a friend or neighbor, there are no consequences for mistreating the animal later. By acquiring their pet from a government regulated animal shelter, a family can be assured about the health and behavior of the animal and an assurance they can bring the pet back if the situation does not work out. Shelters also evaluate the animals for temperament and never allow the adoption of a potentially dangerous animal. Also, shelters insist on the new owners spaying or neutering an animal being adopted if it has not already been done. This decreases the number of unwanted pets from accidental or irresponsible breeding. To promote sterilization of pets, most shelters offer discounts on the cost of the surgeries. Finally, shelters are reliable about evaluating the animal for health problems. Each pet has been vaccinated and dewormed. And all for a price probably lower than a pet store or breeder.
Animal shelters also run a constant media campaign informing the public of the consequences of irresponsible pet ownership. Television shows similar to “Animal Cops” and public service announcements let people know the atrocities that are committed on unwanted animals, how to report abuse, and how easy it is to insure good homes for pets.
Training of Animals
Statistics are not available for the numbers of animals returned to a shelter after adoption. However, there are a number of reasons why this occurs. Sometimes a pet allergy is discovered that was no known before the adoption. Sometimes, a pet already present in the home does not socialize with the new family member even after a significant period of time. There may be personality clashes with family members and the new pet that were unforeseeable. However, many times the animal is returned for one of two reasons: the family was not educated on what to expect from the new pet and how to work with it, or the animal was not adequately trained for assimilation into the new home.
Few families want their new pet to soil the furniture and floors, chew, bark, not walk well on a leash, jump on people, and other irritating and potentially dangerous behaviors. By having realistic expectations of potential problems and arming themselves with the tools to handle unwanted behaviors, new families can address the issues with the animal rather than turning it away.
Investigation into allegations of animal abuse resulted in the production of the film “W5”, a documentary based on the transportation of livestock in Canada (MercyForAnimals.org). It went on to become one of the longest-running and most watched documentaries of all time. It also resulted in public outrage and 80,000 signatures to the Minister of Agriculture.
Some investigations are conducted by animal rights activists, but most are performed by members of organizations such as the SCPA when citizens or the police contact them with suspicions of abuse. There are restrictions on the immediate actions the officers can take, but they try to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Some animals are fed while notices are given to owners and some animals are seized. Owners may or may not have their pets returned to them, and in some cases charges are pressed by the organization and judges hand down fines and other punishment for inappropriate care.
People believe there are not consequences for animal abuse and neglect and this prompts them to believe they can treat animals in whatever way they wish. However, animal control officers and the court systems have a history of passing down punishments on criminals convicted of these violations. For instance, on February 5, 2015, a guilty verdict against Alan and Sheree Napier of Brandenton, Florida, USA for eight counts of aggravated animal abuse, one count of unlawful solicitation, and one count of scheming to defraud following the rescue of over 300 abused and neglected animals. Sentencing is pending and Mr. Napier is being held without bail. The state will seek prison sentences for both criminals.
On February 3, 2015, the Food Standards Agency in Bowood, England pressed charges against a slaughterhouse in violation of standards for treatment of animals (BBC News). Four licenses for operation have been revoked following release of a video by Animal Aid in the United Kingdom. The laws require the animals to have no warning of their impending deaths and the slaughter is to be conducted in a humane manner. As a result, Animal Aid is called for surveillance cameras to be placed in all slaughterhouses to monitor compliance.
These are only two of the many cases pending and completed regarding animal abuse. The general public is horrified at information they never suspected existed. As public opinion becomes more outraged, court systems and politicians will respond to demands for justice.
Domesticated animals fill an important role in the lives of human beings. Their care is placed into the hands of those accepting responsibility for their well-being. When owners fall short of those responsibilities, either willfully or unintentionally, organizations and the public at large should take steps to remedy the situation. With mass communication for education and social networking for person-to-person relaying of information, the people who feel they have a right to abuse or neglect the animals entrusted to their care can be brought to justice.
BBC News. 'Slaughterhouse Animal 'Abuse' Probed'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
Humanesocietynational.org. 'Dog And Cat Overpopulation'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
MercyForAnimals.org. 'Undercover Investigations Of Factory Farms And Slaughterhouses'.
N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
Statisticbrain.com. 'Animal Shelter Statistics | Statistic Brain'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
Towell, Lisa. Prime.peta.org. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
Angel Animal Rescue Society, 1621 Reservoir Rd., Armstrong, BC V0E 1B8, (250) 315-5276.
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