The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette is
published by
Pet Media, Inc.
11 Market Street, #549
P.O. Box 549
Mashpee, MA 02649

Telephone: 508-419-6356
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Animal cruelty: What is it and what would you do?

Animal cruelty, animal abuse, animal mistreatment, all of these words send a shiver up and down our spines when we hear stories about what humans have done to animals.
As you may know, there is a popular TV show which revolves around scenarios and asks people the question, “What would you do?”  Let’s begin with these scenarios:

Imagine that you were walking with your dog and child and you come upon a neighbor who is visibly angry and screaming at his dog which is cowering or whimpering.  What would you do?
Imagine that you live near an elderly neighbor who seems to be reclusive and there is a proliferation of cats inside and outside their residence, and the cats look undernourished.  What would you do?
Imagine that you see a dog in a car with the windows closed on a hot summer day or outside on a cold winter day in January with no one around.  What would you do?
In Massachusetts, M.G.L. ch. 272, § 77, states in part “Whoever … tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, cruelly beats, mutilates or kills an animal, or causes or procures an animal …” (to be treated in such a way) or  “in a race, game or contest” or “as lure or bait” (except in fishing) “…or unnecessarily fails to provide it with proper food, drink, shelter, sanitary environment, or protection from the weather …” or “whoever … willfully abandons it  or carries it or causes it to be carried in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner or in a way or manner which might endanger the animal …” (shall be punished).
As of November 17, 2004, conviction of animal cruelty in Massachusetts is a felony, not a misdemeanor, and is punishable by a fine or imprisonment or both.  Additionally, upon conviction, the owner, after a hearing, may be ordered to surrender or forfeit the animal to the custody of a humane society.
However, punishment comes after the fact and injury or worse may have already occurred to the pet or animal. 
Only you can decide whether and to what extent you want to make a difference to the two and four legged and winged and other creatures which inhabit our neighborhoods.     The MSCPA Law Enforcement Department accepts anonymous calls and calls are treated confidentially.  The phone number is: 1-800-628-5808.  As you may know, the MSCPA is the second oldest humane society in the United States.  Of course, you can always call your local law enforcement or animal control officer, if your local city or town has an animal control officer, with questions.
While peace of mind and peace and tranquility in the neighborhood may be good in the short term, in the long term how are you going to feel if you have said or done nothing when you see neglect or worse as to an animal.
In my opinion, the court should award attorney’s fees and costs if you have to bring such a suit against such a person who has acted in such a heinous manner towards your pet or animal.
Again, it’s your decision as to whether you should be your neighbors’ keeper or keep away because you don’t want to get involved.  Imagine, that you never have to worry about any of the above-mentioned scenarios.  Why, because in your utopian neighborhood, animal lovers live in harmony with their pets and their neighbors. 
In my opinion, we show respect for ourselves and animals by calling attention to the MSCPA or other humane groups or law enforcement who are trained to decide what is appropriate for animals and their environment when we see apparent neglect or worse.                   
What will you do?