Thousands of instances of animal neglect and abuse are reported across New Zealand every single year. Sad but true. Want to do your bit to help out? First, read this to discover how you identify animal abuse.
It can be difficult for us pet lovers to understand, but sadly many people abuse or neglect their animals. The New Zealand SPCA alone responds to more than 15,000 reports of animal abuse, neglect and abandonment each year.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll find that number sickening. Animals have the right to a peaceful existence with access to food, water, shelter and proper care. Those rights are written into NZ Law.
At PD Insurance, we think being a fantastic pet owner is a joy, not a chore. Check out our guide to loving-up your pets here.
Another way you can love animals is the educate yourself on the signs of animal abuse. Because the reality is, most neglected or abused animals rely on the eyes and ears of the public for their protection.
It could be said that anyone who witnesses the mistreatment of an animal has a moral obligation to intervene.
But it can be hard to know for sure if an animal is being abused. It can be even harder still to know how to help without risking your own safety. This article will help you identify animal abuse and tell you what to do to help.
Signs of Animal Abuse
Did you know that any person found impeding upon the basic rights of animals in NZ can face up to five years imprisonment and $100,000 in fines? The consequences are serious, and rightly so.
Animal abuse comes in many forms, from neglectful living conditions to deliberate physical harm and abandonment.
This article covers the top signs than an animal is being abused. If you observe any of these signs individually or in combination, you should report the case to the SPCA.
Lack of food or water
Pets should have 24/7 access to clean water and be fed nutritious food daily. If you have observed an animal is not having these needs met, they’re likely being neglected.
Poor skin and coat condition
The physical condition of a dog or cat can give the best clue as to whether they’re being mistreated or neglected. Animals with excessive fleas, open wounds or mange – with patches of fur missing – require medical attention. If their owner isn’t getting them that care then they’re abusing their pet.
Evidence of bodily trauma
Animals that have missing or damaged body parts that remain untreated are suffering neglect or abuse. Limping could also be a sign that something untoward is happening.
They could even be the victim of illegal dog fighting, particularly in breeds like staffies, pit bulls and other ‘pig dog’ type breeds. Read more about illegal dog fighting in NZ here.
Lack of shelter
Animals that are subjected to the elements without relief are neglected animals. Pets should have somewhere to retreat from sun, rain and wind. If not an undercover area, then at least a kennel or lean-to type shelter.
Tethered or caged
If the animal is tied up all the time or caged regularly in cramped conditions, this is a sign of abuse. Animals should be able to move freely; if not in a backyard then in a good-sized area that provides shelter and enrichment.
Why is play so important for dogs and cats? Find out here.
Chain around neck
If a dog has a chain around its neck 24/7, it’s possible this is digging into the dog’s flesh. The same can be true of collars or ropes that are too tight or are not adjusted properly as the animal grows.
Lack of sanitisation
If the animal is living atop its own urine and faeces and this isn’t cleaned away regularly, that’s a sign of neglect.
Animals who appear to be left in homes, yards, bushland or public areas without people to take care of them are classified as abandoned. Abandonment is illegal and is a form of animal abuse.
Too many animals in one place
Animal hoarding is a thing, and it can be a major cause of neglect. People with too many animals are usually unable to provide adequate food, water, shelter and care for all of them.
Sadly, animal hoarders are often severely misguided animal lovers. But all the same, these cases must be reported.
Fear or aggression in the animal
Animals who are abused learn to be fearful of people – especially of their owner/abuser. Fear usually leads to aggression. A dog that is clearly fearful of or aggressive towards its owner is cause for alarm.
Overly submissive animals
If a dog appears overly submissive to its owner, that can also be a sign something isn’t right. Submissive behaviour in a dog includes cowering on the ground, rolling over onto its back and out of control urination.
Acts of physical violence
If you witness someone hitting, kicking, squeezing, throwing or otherwise harming their pet, that’s a great reason to report them for animal abuse. This behaviour is never justified – it’s not a legitimate ‘training’ technique.
Want to know how to train your dog in a positive way? Check out our top tips here.
How can you help an abused animal?
So now you know how to identify animal abuse, the question is: what can you do to help? Contact the Ministry for Primary Industries – it leads and facilitates the management of animal welfare policy and practice in New Zealand. It requests that Kiwis report cases of animal ill-treatment or cruelty by calling 0800 00 83 33. They will take it from there.
Another way you can help is to volunteer with, or donate to, animal shelters such as those run by Helping You Help Animals (HUHA). Every bit of assistance helps!
Caring for your own fur babies
We’re assuming that, because you’re here reading our blog, you’re already a wonderful pet parent. But accidents and illness can happen, and when it does, it’s good to know your fur baby is covered for prompt medical treatment.
To find an affordable pet cover plan to safeguard your four-legged mate, click here.