The bond between a dog and his owner is a strong one, built over many years. It is an attachment that might only be understood by those that have experienced the unconditional love and support that dogs provide. Most of us cannot imagine treating our dogs with anything but caring and love, but sadly, that is not always the case, and many dogs silently suffer at the hands of their owners. Yet we can all work to help abused and abandoned dogs right in our own neighborhood. Here are six ways to start!
1. Look around. The first step in helping stop abuse is in noticing that it is taking place. Take notice of the sometimes subtle signs of animal abuse and cruelty. Do you see a dog that is out all the time, even during scorching hot temperatures or incredibly freezing temps? Do you notice there is a dog that looks extremely skinny and never has water available? Do you have a neighbor that always seems to be screaming at his dog? If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts.
2. Tell someone. When you see abuse, report it to the proper authorities in your area. In many cases, that will be the police. In certain areas, there are special organizations, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which will investigate your report. Write down every occurrence in detail. Note the date, time, and weather conditions. The more detailed and accurate you can report your claim, the better chances of immediate help and possible conviction. Remember that the use of social media often helps, too. So if you are reporting a company that is harming their animals in some way, you will most likely get immediate attention through the use of social media. Even private cases have been recognized and helped in this way.
3. Get vocal. Join animal organizations to help pass humane laws to help improve the lives of animals. Get vocal on Twitter and Facebook, join online groups, and attend meetings in your area. When speaking with family and friends, let them know about ways they can help animals — or at the very least, not hurt them.
4. Support rescue-dog organizations. There are so many agencies that do outstanding work to help animals, and they all need our support. There are also many organizations dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitation, and re-homing abused dogs. By patronizing or donating just the cost of a few cups of coffee per month, you can help fund food, medical care, and basic necessities for many dogs. Monetary donations are always welcomed, but often, these organizations are in dire need of practical items, such as disinfectants, blankets, paper towels, tissues, dog food, etc.
5. Teach a child to love animals. Most dog owners fondly remember growing up knowing the love of their dogs. Children learn so much from having pets. They also learn how to treat those animals from watching their parents and family. When you teach a child that animals are beautiful beings that need our protection, you not only change the life of a child, but also the life of every animal that child encounters over a lifetime.
6. Volunteer. Dog rescues need people to help, plain and simple. Most are publicly funded and just do not have the manpower needed to handle the large volume of animals they take in. You can walk dogs, clean cages, and speak with potential adopters. Every little bit helps when it comes to helping get homeless dogs into permanent homes.
Dogs do so much for us; it’s only right that we do all we can for them!
Danielle Sullivan is a writer living in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @Deewrite.