In our minds we know what the words abuse, violence and neglect mean, don't we? Have you ever looked them up in the dictionary to see what the words exactly mean?
Of course you know how I am. I am looking the words up as I write this column today. I want to know if my thoughts on the words are correct.
The first word abuse means cruel or inhumane treatment. Neglect means the lack of attention and care. Last but not least the word violence means the act of aggression.
Being in the world of animals I have seen some horrific things so the words have much deeper meaning.
The words "abuse, violence and neglect" are everywhere. It's on the news nightly, in the newspapers and on the radio.
You can have a great day until you sit down and watch the Nightly News. That's enough to depress anyone isn't it?
Do you believe that because we don't live in a big metropolis that doesn't happen in the Verde Valley?
If so please rethink the subject. We're no different than any other town or city in the world. Crime is everywhere.
Those words don't pertain to just human beings, it applies to animals also. It's on the Phoenix news on a regular basis and on Animal Planet daily.
Do we see those same things at the Verde Valley Humane Society? Of course we do. We constantly receive animals that are a part of abuse or neglect and sometimes even violence.
Our latest example was a two-pound Chihuahua that came in with nothing more than his skin stretched over his carcass. You could count every bone in his frail little body and his body was ice cold.
His nails were so long they turned under and he could barely breathe. Picking his head up wasn't an option and neither was getting him to eat. He was absolutely heartbreaking to see.
All of the things wrong with him didn't happen overnight, they had been going on for a very long time.
Where were his humans? Why didn't they call to see if we had him? Why didn't they get him seen by a vet?
Why didn't they have the kindness in their hearts to have the poor little guy humanely euthanized?
We sent him to the vet the same morning he came in and he was given a diagnosis meaning he couldn't be saved.
Animals, just like humans don't have to be physically beaten to be abuse or neglected. It's very sad to see how deeply hurt these victims are.
You don't have to see cuts and breaks to know that an animal has been abused in some manner. What about the poor dog that cowers each time someone gets near them?
Then there are the aggressive animals that try to protect themselves by lashing out at everyone.
They are deemed "vicious" due to their behavior. It's so sad to see what has happened to them. The animals didn't get like that all by themselves.
Could this behavior be a sign of trying to survive because a human has hurt them? Of course it could be.
At times there is hope for an animal that displays aggressive behavior. Security, care, love and patience can sometimes work wonders if there is room at VVHS to work with the animal.
At other times there is no hope and an animal has to be destroyed due to a human's behavior.
Was the aggressive behavior displayed due to the fact that the animal was used for fighting?
Were the scars on the animal's body due to him being caught on a piece of wire? Did he hurt himself on some other bizarre object or was he used as bait for teaching dogs to fight?
Many times when there is just a glimpse of hope for an animal you will find it spending time in my office.
Bringing an animal up front where it feels safe is the beginning of getting that animal to trust humans again.
As you know if you frequent the shelter, my office space is very limited. Adding an animal and just one visitor can make things "more than cozy."
That's just one more of the great things about our new facility. There will be room to work with the animals that show signs of trust and hope.
My office will not only be the office and board room, it will also be a safe place to work with fearful animals.
You will also see the staff spending extra time with these animals. Often lunch hours are spent working with animals that have special needs. Not because the staff has to do this, they want to.
There is a wonderful staff at VVHS that deeply cares for the animals. Many times when it's time for an animal to leave, they don't want to go. They know that we love them and that they have been well cared for.
Do you feel that leaving an animal unclaimed at a shelter is also a form of neglect, abuse or cruelty? I have to say that we do.
It's hard to open the kennel door and know that every single one of those innocent animals had an owner that didn't come to claim them.
Would you term that type of behavior from the owner abuse or neglect? We do get people that come in to identify their animal but can't keep them any longer.
We can understand when there is a reason, but simply never trying to identify your animal or explaining isn't why you are leaving him isn't.
If your animal comes into VVHS and you come in to identify him or her we can get information from you about the animal.
Often the information you provide can help get your animal a home faster. Is your animal house trained?
Does he do well with other animals? How about children, is he a good pet for them? Does he walk well on a leash? Does your cat spray his territory?
Just those few simple questions and answers may help him get a home faster than someone that we have no history on.
On the other side of that thinking comes another thought. If the owner didn't care enough about their animal to come and get him or her, they are better off at VVHS.
We do care about the animals. They will be cared for in the correct manner, loved and everything possible will be done to find them a good home.
Did you realize that the cycle of violence is a chain of circumstances in which an adult abuses a child, another adult or an animal?
What happens is an adult passes down violent patterns and traits to innocent children. The child sees it done in their home and often continues the same behavior, as they grow older.
Children inwardly know that it's wrong, but saw it so often that they don't even realize that they are doing the same things that they were so against.
This terrible cycle of violence will continue unless someone steps in to stop it. Often the abusive person will need counseling and guidance for an extended period of time.
If you know someone, please get him or her help. It has to be stopped, not passed down to other generations.
It's sad to say, but people who batter their animals more than likely present the same behavior with their loved ones.
The SPCALA says, "Domestic violence, child abuse, and animal abuse have a high correlation to each other."
There are some very interesting statistics that I found while researching. When you see percentages that have been provided, you will understand how all of the violence links together:
68 percent of battered women also saw violence toward their animals by the batterer.
87 percent said the animal violence occurred in the presence of women.
75 percent said the violence was done while children observed.
Adolescent histories of animal abusers were also found in prisoners. Not only did
These people do bodily harm to humans; they also did it to animals.
The percentages provided by a Latham Foundation publication about humans that also abused animals are not easy to digest:
25 percent of aggressive male prisoners
30 percent of convicted child molesters
36 percent of assaulters of women
46 percent of incarcerated sexual homicide perpetrators
48 percent of convicted rapists
89 percent of serial murderers
These facts prove that most people that will harm an animal will also do the same to a human being.
Cold hard facts show exactly how the cycle of violence affects human lives and those of animals also. Unfortunately animal abuse happens every day and it needs to be prevented.