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Sadly, not everyone loves animals. Any animal control officer has stories about animals who are found bruised, bloodied, and emaciated; litters of puppies and kittens who are rescued from taped-up boxes along highways or from sealed plastic garbage bags that have been thrown into lakes and rivers; or animals who are abandoned because they bark too much, got too old, or because their families decided to move.

Even people who care about animals are often unable to recognize or meet their animal’s many needs. Domesticated animals can no longer survive on their own yet they retain many of their basic instincts and drives. They may yearn to roam but are confined to a house or yard and are dependent upon their guardians for water, food, and social contact.

As long as people treat animals as toys, possessions, or commodities rather than as individuals with feelings, families, and friendships, widespread neglect and abuse is inevitable.

What You Can Do

  • Spay or neuter your dogs and cats.
  • Adopt from shelters—and don’t forget adult animals, who are often overlooked by people who want a puppy or a kitten.
  • If possible, adopt two animals. Animals need both human and animal companionship. Having an animal friend can help alleviate the boredom and loneliness of long hours spent waiting for you to come home.
  • Cats and dogs are safest and happiest living inside with their human families. For safety’s sake, they should only be allowed out into securely fenced areas or under close supervision.
  • Walk and play with your companion animals every day.
  • Make preparations for the care of your animal companion during difficult times, such as divorce or death.
  • Take strays to humanely run shelters.
  • Work within your community to legislate mandatory spaying and neutering. See PETA’s “Spaying and Neutering: A Solution for Suffering” factsheet for more information.
  • Speak up if someone is planning to breed an animal. Urge people who desire the companionship of animals to adopt from animal shelters.
  • If you witness neglect, talk to the animal’s guardian, send an anonymous letter, or contact the humane society. Be persistent! (See PETA’s “Chained Dog” leaflet  for more information.)