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I recently read a news article about a worker arriving at a local Goodwill donations location and finding a taped-up cardboard box at the donation door.  The box was labeled “stuffed animals,” and she didn’t think much of it until she saw the box moving.  When she opened the box, she found three small puppies that had been sealed inside with no food or water.  There were not even any air holes in the box.

I recall as a young boy, being fascinated with wildlife and I would often punch holes in the top of a jar or box to temporarily keep a small creature I may have found.  That would only last until my parents discovered what I had, and they always made me release it back to the wild.  But even as a young boy, I would have the awareness to put some holes in the lid!

This is the kind of cruelty that comes from a lack of regard for the value of other living creatures.  “They’re just dogs or cats” someone might say.  Yes, they are… and they are living beings with feelings and emotions much like ours.  Animals have now become part of our culture – and people, by survey, now consider their pets to be a member of their immediate family.

We see this research and then we see a news story like the one above, and we realize that there is still much to be done to address animal cruelty and neglect.  The Atlanta Humane Society has a long history of rescuing animals in bad situations.  Every day we have animals in our shelter who have been the victims of people who either don’t care or don’t realize what harm they may be doing.

I visited with a young puppy in the front of our shelter this morning that is healing from having an “embedded collar” surgically removed by our veterinary team.  This 4-month-old little guy was growing quickly and his family left his collar on and had him chained in the backyard.  As he grew, the skin grew around the collar and covered it over.  How painful this must have been for this little innocent animal.

I could make a long list of these kinds of neglect cases but I want to ask the question:  what can we all do about this?  First, I would encourage you to be the best pet parent or caretaker that you can be with your own animal.  Get them to the veterinarian regularly, interact with them and give them love, feed them well.  Be the best you can be and consider what their needs are.  Remember, they can’t tell you what they need.  It is up to us to learn how to observe them and their behaviors.

Secondly, if you see a neglected or injured animal, contact your local animal control authority in your town or community and let them know.  If you don’t know who to contact, call us at 404-875-5331 or email us at [email protected], and we will help you find out who to call.  Don’t let neglect go unreported.

Finally, you can always help us help others.  By donating to AHS, you can help us continue to provide all the needed services to help unfortunate victims of neglect and cruelty 365 days a year.  Let’s all do what we can to make this a better and safer world for the animals we care about!