Because of a recent incident involving a neighbor who shall not be named, I am much more aware of situations involving the SPCA and neglected animals, whether they be “pets” or “livestock.” With that in mind, I noticed an article today about the SPCA rescue of a number of abandoned and starving cattle and three horses in the San Ardo area; some of the animals did not survive.
I’ve also been thinking about how the economy and foreclosures affect treatment of animals. Browsing the web, I learned that there is a phenomenon called “foreclosure pets” — pets who are abandoned or neglected when the owners are forced out of their homes. There’s even a non-profit organization, FUPI, that is dedicated to helping pets affected by foreclosure. Sometimes foreclosed upon owners leave their homes locked up with the animals inside. I suspect that some homeowners under pressure take out their frustrations on their animals. People who lose their homes to foreclosure could also experience feelings of shame, and be reluctant to ask others to care for their pets or livestock.
The National District Attorney’s Association has a web page, Animal Cruelty and Neglect, that outlines some of the abuses, as well as the difficulties authorities encounter when attempting to prosecute. Unfortunately, helping a neglected or abused horse may not be a simple issue. The Bay Equestrian Society explains why:
Neglect resulting from financial hardship can be exceedingly difficult to deal with for a number of reasons. Neglected, starving horses are a (sometimes) highly visible symptom of an extremely sensitive, intensely private malady. Over time, pride evolves into denial, then spirals into neglect, which is generally succeeded and compounded by embarrassment, further denial, and shame. An emotionally charged environment like this can and does create unique legal barriers to providing relief for the animal, which; in the eyes of the law, is private property. Sadly, the thorny issue of private property can become an insurmountable barrier to critical rescue efforts.
Foreclosure in itself may feel like “an extremely sensitive, intensely private malady.” So it’s easy to see how that might complicate and add to issues of animal neglect. These are issues that are emotionally affecting, and it’s tempting to go up to the owner and give them what-for. But if you really think an animal is being neglected, I think it’s best to contact your local SPCA or Humane Society first, or (especially if outright cruelty is involved), your local law enforcement office.
* The Humane Society on Animal Abuse and Neglect (what you can do).
* The Bay Equestrian Society – A Practical Guide to Helping Neglected Horses.
* SPCA of Monterey County: How to Report Animal Cruelty.