Taking care of your pet is a big responsibility. While many people are distracted by their cuteness and companionship, there’s a lot of effort (and money) that goes into taking care of your pet. After all, you need to take them to the vet, buy them the best food, and ensure their health is well cared for. If you’re not willing to put in the effort to care for your animal, you could be facing legal charges on your hands.
Animal cruelty is no laughing matter. Some studies show that an animal in the United States gets abused every 60 seconds. Whether this abuse is intentional or not doesn’t matter: a negligent owner can still have their pet taken away from them. In the worst cases, you might even get arrested. While a quality bail bonding service might get you out of the clink, you may be barred from owning a pet ever again, even if you’ve made the effort to change your ways. After all, an animal is a sentient creature. It’s capable of feeling love, but it’s also capable of feeling pain. And if you’re putting your dog in a situation that could hurt them, you’re better off not owning a pet in the first place. If you’ve never had a pet before, you should perform ample research to understand your animal’s needs in order to give them the best life possible.
Do you understand the ins and outs of animal cruelty? Here’s what you should know about taking care of your pet.
Understanding animal abuse
The vast majority of people reading an article like this could never imagine hurting their pet. But even people who supposedly love animals could be taking part in abusive behaviors.
To start, animal abuse is typically defined as the willful or intentional harming of an animal. We all know the intense versions of this, but even small acts of harm can be a form of abuse. A person “spanking” their dog for barking is not a form of training: it’s a form of abusive punishment.
Keep in mind that certain training methods like low-grade shock collars and water spray bottles are not defined as a form of abuse. The average shock collar will simply alert the pet via vibrations when a bark is too loud, causing a mild discomfort. A spray bottle to get your cat off of the kitchen counter will not injure the animal, so this is fine. But intense shock collars are definitely a form of abuse if they’re on too high of a setting or actually causes the dog injury. Throwing heavy items at your animal in lieu of a spray bottle could also harm them, so this is a bad behavior that many people need to break.
There are countless ways to inflict harm on an animal, which is why animal rights activists and animal control officers are so important. Without raising awareness regarding abusive behavior, many animals could continue to be injured, whether their owners are doing it knowingly or not.
Negligence of animals is a different ball game. These are often the types of scenarios you’ll see hashed out in animal cop shows. People love animals so much that they adopt too many and don’t have the means to take care of them all. Or they simply adopt a dog only to find that they don’t have the time or energy to ensure it’s living a healthy, happy life. In extreme cases of negligence, the animal could die. This often occurs when a person is allured by the thought of having a puppy but becomes disinterested when it grows into a dog. Even though negligence often stems from ignorance, a lack of caring for your pet is a criminal act that can result in fines, arrests, and more. Even forgetting to turn on your heating and air conditioning when you leave the house is a common act that could result in illnesses in your pets.
Here are some of the ways that negligence can manifest:
- If the owner leaves their pet outside all day with no social interaction or stimulation. Animals feel safe in their wooden kennels for dogs. After all, this is a safe space for them. But leaving them outside in their kennel all day is no way that a dog should live. Only use these kennels at night or when you leave the house. Providing a kennel outside is a good way to offer shade on hot days, too.
- Failing to notice an injury can also be a form of negligence. If you notice your dog is limping, but fail to bring it into the vet, this is a form of animal cruelty. As the owner of the animal, it’s your duty to take care of it. If you think something is wrong with your pet, bring it to the vet. You would do the same for yourself! Just like humans need regular check-ups and trips for dental services, so too does your dog. Keep your appointments to ensure your dog is healthy.
- Forgetting to feed your animal is a criminal act. Your pet relies on you for housing, food, and everything else in its life. If you’re not feeding your dog the recommended amount of food each day, you’re abusing your pet. Keep in mind that if you can see your pet’s ribs, that’s not good. Overfeeding your pet to the point of diabetes and obesity can also be looked at as a form of animal cruelty.
- Feeding your pet the wrong stuff can also put their lives in danger. Research the types of human foods that your pet can’t eat. For example, dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, grapes, garlic, and anything with xylitol. This can mess with their digestion and cause serious health issues. Even though your dog likely wants to eat everything, it’s up to you to take care of their diet.
- Providing a safe environment is key for your pet. If you’re undergoing property maintenance, but you’re not barring your dog from construction areas in your house, it will be your fault if your dog gets hurt. On the other hand, you should be maintaining your property to prevent your dog from getting injured or escaping. Fixing up your fence is key if you’re worried about your dog running away. It will be your responsibility if they get out and bite someone. In this case, calling a dog bite injury lawyer will be in your best interest.
- This one is one of the most obvious, but leaving your pet in a hot car is a serious form of negligence. On a hot day, the inside of your car can raise to obscene temperatures in a matter of minutes. If you’re thinking about taking your pet with you somewhere, be sure that your car has a working air conditioner if you need to leave for a minute or two.
The list can go on and on, but these are some of the top reasons why people stare down an animal cruelty charge. Taking care of your pet might seem like a lot, but simply establishing a safe home will prevent most of these issues from occurring.
Other instances where your animal might be put at risk
There are some other times where your pet might be put at risk that don’t fall neatly into the other categories. For example, pet abandonment falls into both categories of negligence and cruelty. Many people who are forced to leave their home might decide not to bring their pet with them. Others simply aren’t willing to put in the effort when they call international movers to help them pack up and leave. While moving to a new country can be done with help, you need to ensure that you can take your pet or leave them in a safe place when it’s time to go.
After all, part of taking care of your pet is realizing when you’re not a good fit. Some people can’t keep up with the maintenance of a hypoallergenic pet that needs regular grooming. Others might realize that they work too much to take them on regular walks. While it’s hard to part ways with a pet, you don’t want to neglect them when your lifestyle changes. In some cases, even getting fired from your job might mean that you have to move or find someone else to take care of your pet. While it’s hard to part ways with a beloved pet, it’s more important that they are well cared for by a shelter or another family that can provide for them. A part of taking care of your pet is knowing when you can’t do it.
Many people will also walk their dog without a leash. In most places across the United States, this law is in place to protect your dog and the people around you. It doesn’t matter how well-behaved your dog is: if a stranger approaches them and hurts them (like a child that doesn’t know their own strength), it’s still your responsibility since they weren’t on a leash. Other well-behaved dogs might get distracted by a sudden squirrel or want to say hi to another dog. You never know when your dog could, well, be a dog. If your dog bites someone out of fear when they’re not on a leash, you’ll have to pay the bail bonds to make it out of jail when you’re arrested for endangering others and not taking care of your pet.
Cleaning up after your pet isn’t really a form of animal cruelty, but this can also lead to fines and other issues as a pet owner. Invest in some poop bags to ensure that you’re not impacting your community in a negative way. Not only is it inconvenient for other people, but dog poop can also contaminate ground water and cause sicknesses in other animals.
If you have a cat, you should also keep them indoors. Cats are prone to hunting for sport which can decimate local wildlife populations when it comes to birds and rodents. When your cat crosses the road and interacts with other people and animals, they could also be hurt. Even if your cat wants to go outside, taking care of your pet means doing what’s best for them and those around you. If you really want to take your cat outside, think about investing in a leash. That way, you’ll be an expert at taking care of your pet without putting them at risk.
Taking care of your pet
The best ways to take care of your pet involve doing plenty of research. Crunch those numbers with a tax planning service to make sure you have enough money to support a new furry friend. You should also get your home prepared in advance and learn about the various needs of your pet’s specific breed. For example, a snake will not need a humid environment like some frogs do. Your dog might need more regular grooming than the type of dog breed you grew up with. Knowing how to take care of your pet is key.
You should also ensure your home is in working order. While you might think of cats as a form of natural pest control, those termites chewing away at your floorboards will still lead to holes and weak spots in your home. Invest in actual pest control and inspect other areas of your home that could put your pet at risk. You might find it beneficial to invest in cord organizers to keep electrical wiring out of your puppy’s reach. You might also want to install hardwood flooring instead of carpeting since puppies are prone to accidents. While the latter option isn’t typically necessary, these are just some of the things that you should be thinking about when you’re ready to bring home a new pet.
Taking care of your pet isn’t always easy but most well-intentioned people are able to lead healthy, happy lives with a pet at their side. Keep yourself — and your criminal record — safe by taking better care of your pet.