December 17, 2004, ANDERSON, INDIANA--One of the questions that comes up
frequently for groups that do animal rescue and deal with the issues of animal
cruelty is that of the forgotten animal. You?ve all seen them ? the ones chained
or in tiny kennels in the back yard 24/7. It seems the only time they get any
interaction with another living being is when they?re fed and if they?re lucky
when their area is cleaned of feces. This isolation is particularly sad for dogs
since they are social (pack) animals. Having very little interaction with either
their human family or other animals can cause a number of behavioral problems.
* They lose what social skills they may have had.
* They become depressed and withdrawn.
* May be more prone to bite or behave aggressively.
* Unprovoked barking or whining.
* Health problems.
* Hyper behavior.
In Indiana and most other states animals are considered property. It is also
a law in this state that if an animal has food, water and shelter the owner
generally cannot be cited for abuse. Well, unless of course they are seen
actually beating the animal, or the animals are in horrific physical condition.
There are no definitions for abuse. Shelter can be a lean-to up against a
building. There are certainly no laws concerning emotional abuse. We have a hard
enough time dealing with this concept when it pertains to humans.
The idea of animals as property isn?t necessarily a bad thing unless the
owner abuses the animal and that particular abuse does not fall under the
guidelines of state abuse laws. The other problem is that people who have
animals or work with animals all have a hundred different opinions on what abuse
actually is. What?s abuse to one person is not necessarily abuse to someone
The phrase ?it?s my dog, I?ll do what I want with it? is used often. And if
that means attaching it to a 3-foot chain with food, water and some sort of
shelter then they can and do.
For many people the idea of giving animals ?rights? is a red alert that their
own rights are going to be violated. I was told once emphatically by a trainer,
?Animals don?t have rights ? they have what I give them. It?s my responsibility
to take care of them. And I do.? And maybe she does, but judging from all the
blatant animal abuse that goes on all over the world many others do not.
Perhaps I?m being dense, but I?ve never really understood how treating an
animal morally or ethically is taking away anyone?s rights. Why have a dog if
you?re going to chain it in the far corner of the yard and never pay any
attention to it? What?s the point? To say you have a dog? Treating a pet in this
manner not only denies the dog a good life but the owner misses out on the truly
special bond animals and people can enjoy.
This isn?t about animal rights, this is about compassion and perhaps putting
yourself in an animal?s position. I don?t think there are many of us who would
want to live our lives almost completely isolated from human or animal
interaction, staked to the ground with nothing to do. Never able to run or just
act like a dog. Think about what that kind of existence would do to you. This is
similar to the life we give to people who?ve committed crimes and are in prison.
Wonder what these dogs do to receive the same fate?
Note: If you?d like to support the Madison County Humane Society you can
donate the following: dry Purina Kitten Chow, liquid laundry soap, sponge or rag
It?s About Treating Animals With Compassion, Not ?Rights?
by Maleah Stringer