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Animal Lovers – A Special Breed

by Barry KuKes

I often see or hear stories about people who noticed a bag on the side of the interstate, pulled over, and uncovered that the bag contained four kittens or three puppies. They rush the abandoned animals to a local animal shelter or veterinary office, and in most cases, the animals survive. Just recently, there was a news story about a bag of kittens that was thrown from a moving vehicle. The driver sped off. An animal lover stopped to retrieve the bag, but their efforts were in vain, and unfortunately, the kittens did not survive.

According to 66 percent of U.S. households (86.9 million homes) own a pet. Dogs are the most popular pet in the U.S. (65.1 million U.S. households own a dog), followed by cats (46.5 million households) and freshwater fish (11.1 million households). Let’s look at this statement in reverse. If 66 percent of homes have a pet, then 34 percent of households do not have a pet. I’m not saying that 34 percent of the US population does not like animals. I am sure many pet-less families love animals but, for one reason or another, cannot own a pet or have one in their home. Maybe someone in the home has animal allergies, or the dwelling where they habitat, does not allow pets.

However, I am also sure that there is a certain percentage of people who do not like animals. It’s difficult for me even to im-agine that there are people living among us that will intentionally hurt an animal.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, cruelty and neglect cross all social and economic boundaries, and media reports suggest that animal abuse is common in both rural and urban areas.

Intentional cruelty to animals is strongly correlated with other crimes, including violence against people.

Hoarding behavior often victimizes animals. Sufferers of a hoarding disorder may impose severe neglect on animals by housing far more than they are able to take care of adequately. Serious animal neglect (such as hoarding) is often an indicator of people in need of social or mental health services.

Surveys suggest that those who intentionally abuse animals are predominantly men under 30, while those involved in animal hoarding are more likely to be women over 60. It is estimated that approximately 10 million animals are intentionally ab-used annually.

The easiest and most effective method for greatly reducing the amount of abuse is to reduce the number of available animals to abuse. Spay/ neuter procedures help control the population of unwanted dogs and cats. If animals are so abundant, the numbers alone will result in a certain percentage of abused animals.

Another method to reduce animal abuse is to adopt a pet today. If pet lovers unite, we can remove an animal from a shelter or from wandering the streets of our neighborhoods and give them a safe and loving home. Once the animal is in a safe environment, their risk of abuse is greatly diminished, if not eradicated. Many animal lovers (myself included) have more than one pet. If all pet owners limited their households to just one pet, the percentage of abused and abandoned animals would skyrocket. As well, if households with just one pet added another pet or two, the abuse percentage would be greatly reduced due to a lack of animals available for mistreatment.

If you can make room in your home for just one more homeless animal, you will be saving a life. If every pet household with just one pet adopted another animal in need, the number of animals abused each year would be substantially reduced.

Every week, I end this column with the plea, Adopt, Don’t Shop. This week, I would like to change that up a bit to Prevent animal abuse and adopt today.

Barry KuKes is the former community outreach director at Halifax Humane Society. E-mail him at bkukes@gmail. com View more of his work at minicoop