Good Dog Owner/Bad Dog Owner
It’s a fact that there are good dog owners and there are bad dog owners and they can live side by side right in your own neighborhood.
Neighbor G (G for Good dog owner) treats their dog as a cherished family member.
Their dog sees a veterinarian on a scheduled basis for vaccinations and a check-up. His diet is healthy and his coat glistens. He might get to go for a ride in the car, join the family on vacation, sleep inside the house (maybe even sleep on the bed like Milo) and plays often with his people. This dog just might be lucky enough to have another dog as a companion. He is rarely tethered/fenced outside alone for very long and is never let out to wander. You know this dog is loved!
Neighbor B (B for Bad dog owner) also has a dog but has forgotten they have one – or more.
This dog is penned or tied to a tree, a clothes pole, a tire or cinderblock – always on a short lead. Maybe his collar is too small and tight because no one cared to notice he’d outgrown it. The neck might be damaged from a rope burn or cheap metal choke chain.
This dog either has no shelter from weather extremes or it is stationed in a remote corner of the yard. Often he is taunted, straining at the end of his lead. He might have one all purpose bowl that sometimes has scraps of food – IF someone remembers to feed him or give him water. The bowl is always dirty and so is the dog. Luck to this pooch means escape.
I think animal lovers agree that Neighbor G’s dog has a life to envy and Neighbor B’s dog has a sorry life of neglect and abuse.
To establish an acceptable humane standard, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA) detailed the following guidelines for proper and humane care.
- Shelter – Animals that reside outdoors must be provided with proper shelter. Proper is defined as:
- Weatherproof – solid construction with no cracks or openings other than the entrance. Rainproof openings for ventilation in hot weather are acceptable. Wood construction with no metal interior surfaces is recommended.
- Elevated – the floor must be of solid construction and elevated at least 2 inches off the ground.
- Protected Entrance – the door must be covered with a flexible flap in cold, windy or rainy weather. It should also be just large enough to allow the animal to enter/exit easily.
- Bedding – straw, leaves, shredded paper and cedar chips make good bedding materials if they are dry. Rugs, cloth and blankets are not recommended because they hold wetness and will freeze.
- Size – the shelter should be large enough to allow the animal to stand, turn and lie down comfortably but small enough to allow the animal to warm the interior with it’s body heat.
- Water – animals must be provided (within their reach) fresh, clean water in a container that will not tip over easily. Free access to water in hot weather is essential. In winter the animal must be provided with access to unfrozen water.
- Food – animals must be provided daily with nutritious food in sufficient quantity but it does not have to be available at all times.
- Veterinary Care – An animal is need of veterinary care must be provided with such in order to prevent it from suffering unnecessarily. Vomiting, diarrhea, emaciation, loss of appetite or discharge from the eyes or nose are all indications as is an injury or obvious signs of pain.
What can you do if you witness abuse? Take action. You can contact your local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) or other humane society/shelter to report the situation. In Montclair call PAWS. Sometimes the city/county Health Department can help.
The SPCA is the only entity allowed to prosecute abuse cases. The local Animal Control officers can not prosecute unless the municipality gives them the authority to do so. Most Animal Control officers have limited power to enforce only leash laws, licensing and dangerous dog laws to name a few.
It’s frustrating to Neighbor G types that what might be obvious inhumane treatment or neglect might not necessarily be against the law. For an ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement agent to get a conviction there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the abuse was willful and with knowledge of the harmful impact on the animal. The agent is also limited to enforcing only laws on the books.
However, even if the violation falls short of punishment the agent is often able to remove the animal and restrain the violator from obtaining another pet.
The fight for animals is ongoing. The good news is that the people working on behalf of the animals are making some progress through education programs and affirmative action to get laws enacted at the local and state level. Bloomingdale, NJ is one of a growing number of communities so far that has passed an ordinance banning the continuous chaining of dogs.
More and more people are becoming involved in learning how to care and to then teach others the value of kindness, compassion and respect for all living beings. If you are interested in doing more, Milo and I hope you join on soon.
If you have questions you can e-mail them to:firstname.lastname@example.org. All for now. It’s time to take Milo for a walk around his town, Montclair. PS: We’ll be keeping an eye out for Neighbor B’s dog.
Copyright Mary Cody. All rights reserved.