Animal Cruelty; The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

by ClarissaB on Mai 5, 2016 - 12:02am

Defining Animal Cruelty

            We all know somebody who has a pet; it might be your neighbour, your friend or even yourself! Owning an animal is a big responsibility; it requires you to feed it, make sure it remains healthy and lastly, smother it with love and care. During the past few months, I have researched and analysed many news stories about animals, their owners and their various personalities. I believe that owning a pet opens up a part of your heart that can only be unlocked when you express your love towards an animal. I also place trust in the understanding that not everyone will free this part of their heart; some might not even acknowledge that they are capable to love this way. Amongst many, there are some that unfortunately do not recognize animals as worthy of affection. Instead, they use their power as humans to lash out their emotions on these creatures. This kind of behaviour is a phenomenon which has developed itself over the years; it goes by the name of Animal Cruelty.

            Animal cruelty or animal abuse stands for the intentional infliction by humans of suffering or harm upon any non-human animal, for purposes other than self-defense or survival. It can fall into two categories; neglect and infliction of pain. Neglect is when an owner chooses to not take proper care of its animal. In other words, he/she might not provide adequate food, water or shelter. Infliction of pain is defined as the decision to harm the animal in cruel ways. Did you know some animal owners hit their animal until a wound appears? It’s outrageous stuff! He/she might decide to drown the animal and many other unexplainable things. I know you might be tired of reading at this point but keep going; the most interesting stuff is coming up!

Perspective on the Issue                                                                          

            While researching this issue throughout the semester, I have learned various things about the topic. I have also developed a very strong and coherent opinion on the issue. I strongly believe that animal abuse should be recognized as a prominent social issue in our society. If it were a human that was treated this way; things would be very different. Most people will say that humans and animals differ in the way that justice is brought, which is true. However, animal cruelty happens because a human makes the decision to inflict harm on the animal. Therefore, although the animal is the one receiving pain... the human is also lacking in health whether it be emotional or psychological. I mean, if you are feeling more joyful the more you abuse then something is definitely wrong... and it’s not the animal! One of the first news articles I read and evaluated was one published on the Global News Canada website. It was posted on March 19th 2016 and written by Alexa MacLean who titled it ''Dog Found Tied up in Field and Caught up in Barbed Wire''. This article illuminated the issue of animal abuse in Nova Scotia. It told the story of a dog that was found trapped in barbed wire in an abandoned field. MacLean states that its owner intentionally placed the dog there for the reason that he/she might not have wanted to take care of it any longer. The article can be found here or by clicking the title: you might want to go check it out since they link pictures as well as links to what you can do to help.

            This news story touched my heart in a way that none other had. Be careful readers, grab a tissue for this one! It is through this that I realized how important it was for me to make a change; to create an impact. I began researching more stories.. I fell upon one that was published in the Huffington Post; ''Paddlers Find Dead Dog Tied to Shovel Stuck Underwater'' which was written by Hilary Hanson on March 19, 2016. This news article explores the location of Los Angeles where an owner tied a chain around his dog and put a shovel through it. He/she proceeded to bring the dog into the deep end of the beach where it dropped the dog and left. The article can be found by clicking here or the title: beach_us_56ed6268e4b084c6722065a8This story was useful because it made me see the issue in a different light since it was located in the United States and not Canada. Hanson stated that the Los Angeles County Officials were involved in the case whereas in Canada, it is separate organizations that deal with cases (such as the SPCA). This broadened my opinion on the issue by making me realize that I believe Departments such as the police should be involved more frequently when dealing with animal abuse.

Volunteer Experience

            After many weeks of research, I decided to pick where I was going to volunteer. The first place that came to mind was the SPCA Montreal which is an animal shelter that is government funded and provides care to animals that were previously in pain or bad health. When comparing this volunteer experience to the news I had researched I came to the realisation that this place might not be for me. The news stories I came across often spoke about non-profit organizations who worked solely on donations and the kind hearts of volunteers. I then began to think about the SPCA Monteregie which is yet another animal shelter around Montreal but has proven itself to be very different. (Check out this video ; a tour from the President of the organization herself!) To begin, the SPCA Monteregie is not government funded and does not have a kill policy. This means that no matter what none of the animals will be put down. Reading this really shocked me because I came to the conclusion that this shelter must need a lot of help; there must be a lot of animals in need! I headed over to the shelter on a Saturday afternoon and was greeted by Linda Robertson, the president of the organization. She proceeded to show me around and point out the areas that needed work. I spent a lot of time socializing with the animals; I sat down in the room designated to young cats and showed them a lot of love. I also walked many of the dogs, taught them tricks and fed them treats. From home, I brought Linda laundry detergent, animal food and cleaning supplies. Although this does not seem like a tremendous volunteering experience... it changed me as a person.



The Impact... Big or Small

            My experience at the SPCA Monteregie shelter showed me just how little effort is needed to make a change. In the time span of three hours; I saw a difference in the animals. When I entered, many of them were crouched away and seemed rather depressed. While leaving, I made sure to check on these animals again. This time, they were more awake, sociable and their happiness radiated through their fur! I began to think about what each of these might have gone through in the past; I wondered how many of them had a news story written about them? Were their owners brought to court? Was justice served? Shortly after, I concluded that none of that matter. What mattered is that they were in a safe, happy and favorable environment. The animals at the shelter are showered with love and care; so much that they might one day forget about their previous owner. (As you can see from the images posted around this article, the animals at the shelter are everything but miserable!) I realized that the goal of this project was to broaden my perspective on an issue as well as try as hard as I could to make an impact. This past Saturday, I accomplished both of these things with ease... so much ease that I strongly encourage everyone to do the same.

There is a poem by Maryls on the Starlite Cafe that reads:

‘’ You've heard it said 'Pay it forward', a good thing for all to do

Treat others as you'd have them treat, yourself as well it's true

So many times I've heard it said, 'Why should I do for them'

'They've never done for me so far, I'm happy as I am'

The one thing they're forgetting, I'm here to say it's so

Is that the one who helps us, you may not ever know

When you reach out to others, they in turn reach out again

Giving of themselves sometimes, to any fellow man

What goes around, will come around, the nature of God's plan

Whether good or evil, all will come to you again

It might not be tomorrow or next week or even year

But all will come back to you, this is very clear

The gift of self costs nothing, except of thought and time

Don't think of just receiving, think of giving too in kind

There is another saying, you've heard it too I'm sure

'It's better to give than to receive' a gift that will endure

You see that all will ever last, is kindness of the heart

It grows and never perishes, it lives to then impart

Remember as you go along, living as you do

Take the time to lend a hand, it will come back to you’’   

This explores the small impact that paying it forward makes as well as the simplicity that it takes! It teaches us that it is extremely important to give to others as you would give to yourself. It taught me that while animals give love, attention and care... we must do the same.

How Can You Help?

            Three months of research, three months of analysis and a well-rounded volunteer experience has shaped my perspective on animal cruelty into one that I would have never imagined. I believe that, after all of this, the next step is to raise awareness. To make everyone realise that change is possible, that every impact whether big or small, matters. I encourage you to visit the SPCA website (, to tell your close friends or anyone that you know about the significance of lending a hand even if it is just once. It is crucial to remember that for every individual who volunteers it is a step farther in the process of making a change. I hope to have inspired you (the reader) to give back by paying it forward. Lastly, as Donovan Nichols states, I hope the fruit of my labor is ripe for many generations to come!