April is Animal Abuse Prevention Month. Many animal abuse or cruelty cases that are reported involve animals that are suffering from starvation, physical abuse and some are left to deal with injury or illness on their own.
Whenever these un-loved animals come into the care of the Humane Society of Imperial County through animal control, the shelter then takes on the responsibility of making sure they get the medical attention they need through a few different veterinarians. After some much-needed TLC, these rehabilitated orphaned pets are made available for adoption and sometimes are sent out to our rescue groups where they are placed into loving families.
A large majority of the abandoned animals that come into our care are puppies and kittens and severely sick or injured pets. These are often found by people driving and find boxes or they see something crawling around on the ground on the roadside, and sometimes they are left in front of peoples’ homes. Most often, these animals aren’t even given a fair chance and are dumped somewhere in the desert to fend for themselves and must suffer a slow and painful death. There have been times where help came too late for these poor animals and they could not be saved due to the severe deterioration of their health.
Animal abandonment is often a last-minute attempt for pet owners to completely disregard their responsibility as a pet owner. As mentioned before in several previous columns, there is a simple way to deal with unwanted pets -- spay and neuter. Spaying and neutering pets ensures that unwanted litters are not born and that pet owners do not acquire any unwanted financial liabilities associated with having multiple pets.
There are certain diseases and abnormal health conditions that can be easily and completely avoided simply by having pets spayed and neutered. The Humane Society team and volunteers cannot stress enough the importance of having pets regularly seen by a family veterinarian. Having pets regularly seen will ensure that they remain strong and healthy, and if there are any health issues, they will be addressed sooner than later and will eliminate any needless pain and suffering.
It is inhumane to make a sick or injured pet deal with these problems all on their own without any medical care, especially if it is clear that they need to be seen by a veterinarian.
Under Penal Code 597 in the California Animal Law Handbook, it is clearly outlined that all animal abuse, negligence, abandonment and animal fighting (cock fighting and dog fighting) is illegal and is punishable by law. Depending on the severity of the crime, it may result in the perpetrator facing heavy fines and/or imprisonment.
It is horrifying to know that animal abuse, child abuse, domestic violence and other violent crimes go hand in hand. According to the National District Attorneys Association, “The link between violence to people and violence to animals is well documented by research, both nationally and internationally. In its simplest form: Violence to animals is a predictor that the abuser may become violent to people, and vice versa. Abuse is abuse no matter what the form or whom the victim.”
In homes where any form of abuse (human and animal) is occurring and left unaddressed, the home is at risk of increasing violence. Research also shows us that animal abuse/cruelty is the first sign of serious disturbances in certain individuals that can lead to serial killing and mass murders.
As a community it is our responsibility to respect and protect animals. We strongly urge all community members to please keep their ears and eyes open and remain vigilant. It is important to make sure that all illegal or suspicious activities are reported to the authorities (animal control or the police department) as soon as any knowledge is obtained. Collecting evidence via photos and videos are always very helpful when reporting any sort of abuse case.
Unfortunately the Humane Society of Imperial County does not have legal authority over these matters, but we are always happy to direct people in the right direction.
There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to intentionally harm an animal for any reason. There is a saying that goes, “You don’t have to love them, but just don’t hurt them.” Whether it be animal or human abuse/neglect, as a community it is our responsibility to respect and protect all living beings. Holding offenders accountable for their actions not only saves the lives of innocent animals and select individuals -- it ensures the safety of our community as a whole.
Local animal control agencies
Brawley (760) 344-5800, ext. 10
Calexico (760) 768-1861 or (442) 200-7366
Calipatria (760) 351-7766
El Centro (760) 352-2113, ext. 0
Holtville (760) 356-2912
Imperial (760) 355-4327 or (760) 355-1158
Westmorland (760) 344-3411
County* (442) 265-2655, ext. 0
*County services Heber, Seeley, Niland, Ocotillo, Salton City, Bombay Beach, Palo Verde, Winterhaven and all unincorporated areas of each city.
Devon Apodaca is executive director of the Humane Society of Imperial County.