By Emily Gantt
Published: 07/26/2021, edited: 03/28/2022
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As doting pet parents, it's hard to fathom how someone could harm a defenseless animal — but it happens a lot. An estimated 10 million pets pass away from animal abuse annually in the US, but millions more fall victim to unreported abuse.
Animals can't speak for themselves, so we, as animal lovers, have to be their voice and protect them. In this article, we'll explain how you can help prevent the mistreatment of animals and provide ways to advocate for animals, both locally and on a larger scale.
What can I do to help stop animal cruelty?
Most animal lovers want to do their part in stopping violence against animals but are unsure where to start. Here are some things you can do.
Change your lifestyle
A simple way to take a stand against animal cruelty is to stop supporting companies that practice it. Make the effort to do business with vegan brands that don't test on animals, and look for the Leaping Bunny cruelty-free logo when in stores.
However, "vegan" doesn't always mean cruelty-free since these products may still be tested on animals — keep this in mind, especially when browsing cosmetics, body care, and household cleaning products.
You might also want to try adopting a vegan lifestyle. Going plant-based is often the most challenging lifestyle change for people since animal products are so ingrained in our food culture. If you're unable or unwilling to go 100% vegan, try taking small steps to reduce your consumption of animal products, like cooking one vegetarian meal per week.
Another option is to shop organic and ethical. Several popular healthy grocery chains, like Whole Foods, have strict ethical guidelines for sourcing animal products.
Support animal rescue groups and charities
A great way to help stop animal cruelty is to show support for your local animal rescues and charities. Donate if you can, or if you don't have extra funds to spare, consider volunteering.
Donations don't have to be monetary, either — animal rescue groups will equally appreciate old blankets, dog food, and toys. Volunteering at animal shelters and rescue groups is a free way you can contribute and give rescue animals the love they deserve. Even just promoting these organizations on social media can help spread awareness for the cause.
Report animal cruelty when you see it
If you happen to witness animal cruelty, make sure you report it to the appropriate authorities ASAP. In cases of extreme abuse, time is of the essence, so the sooner you call, the better odds the animal has.
You may want to consider reporting the incident to both law enforcement and your local humane society. Take pictures or videos of the abuse if you can. Video and photographic evidence will strengthen the case and help police prosecute the offender to the fullest extent.
Set a good example
Lead by example when it comes to the treatment of animals. Teach your kids to respect animals and demonstrate the proper way to handle and care for them. Encourage your children to advocate for helpless animals and step in when they see animal abuse.
Other steps you can take to stop animal cruelty
Here are some other steps to take to stop animal cruelty on a local level.
Fostering rescues is a free and rewarding step you can take to help stop animal cruelty. Most animal rescues will provide foster parents with all the food and supplies the animal needs while they search for their forever families.
Spay or neuter your pets
Spaying or neutering your pets is crucial for preventing unwanted animals that often end up in shelters or fall victim to animal abusers. Most cities offer low-cost spay and neuter programs to help low-income families afford these procedures.
Many cities also have free trap-neuter-release programs to reduce stray populations in areas with feral cat colonies. If you live in an area with a large number of stray cats, contact your local animal control or humane society to see what options are available to you.
Send letters to your state representatives encouraging them to push for harsher punishments for animal abusers. Signing petitions is another great way to bring animal rights issues to the attention of local lawmakers. If you're unsure where to start, check out Change.org, which has tons of petitions against animal cruelty that you can sign right from your phone — it's a free way to advocate without even leaving home.
We hope this article gives you the courage to take legal and moral steps to help stop animal cruelty and become an animal activist. Report animal abuse if you see it, set a good example for others, and raise your children to advocate for voiceless animals. These small steps can make a huge impact for animals in need.
For information on how to donate to homeless pets, organize a trap-and-neuter program in your area, help stop poaching, and end animal testing, check out the resources below.
- The Humane Society of the United States
- Alley Cat Allies
- International Fund for Animal Welfare
- Animal Welfare Institute