Animal abuse is a public safety issue

Banner-newWhenever I hear that someone has brutalized an animal (not neglect, but actual harm and torture), I know that there is something in their past where either they were harmed or they grew up where violence was normalized. We are not born abusers, we are made abusers. It’s called the cycle of violence.

Children who grow up exposed to chronic violence develop beliefs that harming an animal, bullying, misbehaving and other criminal activity is the norm . It’s not the norm. When we see children behaving this way, we need to contact the proper authorities (police or child protection) so that they can intervene to rehabilitate that behavior.

Children are witnessing violence at alarming rates. That’s also not normal because it desensitizes them to harm. How many times do we need to see a child kill someone with a gun or harm an animal before we actually do something to stop future incidents?

People like to talk about the serial killers and how some of them started by torturing animals. While it’s true, it sensationalizes the documented link between harming animals and harming people. The research is solid that everyday crimes of violence towards animals has a likelihood of connecting to violence towards people.

Harm to an animal should be enough for communities and criminal justice professionals to take action, but people often don’t care until they think it will lead to crimes against people. So this is where I spend most of my time … educating human protection professionals, police and prosecutors on why animal abuse is a serious public safety issue. Here’s why:

  • Animal abuse presents a risk of child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse
  • Animal abuse may be an indicator of other violence in the home
  • Animal violence may be a predictor of future violence in the home
  • Animal abuse may be used to threaten victims in the home to remain silent and compliant
  • 62-76% of animal cruelty in the home occurs in front of children
  • Up t0 48% of domestic violence victims will delay or refusing leaving the abusive home because they do not want to leave their pets behind.
  • Animal abuse has been connected to: child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, murder, rape, arson, and more

I am often asked why animals are abused because for many of us, we cannot fathom harming an animal. Here are some of the reasons why (from a 2012 study):

  • to normalize other violence going on in the home
  • to gain perverse satisfaction and instill fear in humans in the home
  • punish the animals for a person’s misbehavior
  • jealousy of the pet
  • to demonstrate intolerance for rules being broken (if I can do this to the dog, I can do it to you)
  • threats to keep the woman from leaving as collateral violence (not the target)

Research is also verifying at alarming rates that children who witness abuse in the home, particularly animal abuse, are at increased risk of becoming a violent offender against people and animals.

  • One study found that children who witnessed animal abuse at home were more than 8 times more likely to become an offender;
  • Children who are frequently physically punished are more likely to abuse animals;
  • Frequent spanking of 3 years old led to aggression as a 5 year old, against animals;
  • Bullying by children has been connected with animal abuse;
  • Children who witness DV are 3 times more likely to abuse animals.

In simple terms, when children and youth are allowed to grow up witnessing violence (whether that is violence in the home or violence on television/movies) their brains are not developed sufficiently to process it. Therefore, they grow up de-sensitized to violence and may become violent themselves.

Jacob abuse noticeSo what can you do? Report violence when you see it (especially against animals). No longer can we say “it’s not my responsibility”, when we are all responsible for how our society evolves. Neighbors are in a fantastic position to often see abuse (because the abuse of animals often happens publicly, outdoors). If you see something, say something. If you fear retaliation, make an anonymous report.

I have dedicated the past decade to educating criminal justice professionals on the importance of taking animal abuse seriously as it is directly tied to community safety. Want to learn more about this topic? Click here then click on “please fill out this form” at the top of the page to gain free access to a one hour webinar that I conducted on this topic (I will send you the password within 72 hours). The more we all know about how animal abuse impacts community safety, the safer our communities will be!

Are you with me? :-)

About Allie:

Allie and her Scotty friend Grier

Allie Phillips is a nationally-recognized author, attorney and animal advocate. As a prosecuting attorney volunteering in her local animal control shelter, she exposed the barbaric practice of pound seizure and has gone on to eliminate the practice in numerous shelters. That started her path as a strong, effective and respected animal advocate. Allie has been a federal and state animal protection lobbyist and as the director of the National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse at the National District Attorneys Association, she teaches criminal justice professionals on animal protection and prosecution issues. She has written the award-winning and only book on pound seizure: How Shelter Pets are Brokered for Experimentation: Understanding Pound Seizure and the award-winning go-to guide on getting involved to help animals: Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets. Most recently she co-authored Investigating & Prosecuting Animal Abuse: A Guidebook on Safer Communities, Safer Families & Being an Effective Voice for Animal Victims.

Join in on the conversation!

 

 

Protecting animals from a deep freeze

Tree in my parent's yard after the Christmas ice storm

Tree in my parent’s yard after the Christmas ice storm

This has been a really tough winter and we’re only in early January! I am originally from Michigan, so freezing temperatures, snow, ice are normal for the winter months for me. But for the past two months, much of the northern part of the U.S. has experienced record-breaking cold, ice and snow.

Imagine that you are outside in this subzero weather  with no coat, gloves, scarf or ear muffs …. just the plain clothing on your back? How long would you survive? It would not be very long. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of abandoned, stray, feral, wild and farm animals living outside in this freezing weather who need our help.

I have heard many people comment recently that “stray animals know how to keep warm.” For some, they may have a pre-destined location that is covered, dry, insulated from wind and protected from subzero temperatures. But not all stray, feral or farm animals have this option; and family pets who have simply been abandoned outside often do not have the survival skills developed to find appropriate shelter. And then what about the dogs and other animals who are chained up outdoors with nothing more than a flimsy dog house? Frozen food, frozen water, and fear of knowing that death is imminent. And then what about farm animals who cannot safely get back to a covered barn?

It’s unimaginable to most people how many animals are currently in harms way because of the subzero temperatures being experienced in the north, midwest and even where I am in Virginia. For those of us who love animals, it is important that we educate others and take steps on our own to help these outdoor animals survive.

So here’s a few tips to get you started:

1. Educate others about the perils that outdoor animals experience in this weather. Doing so may make them more aware of their surroundings, their neighborhood, and their drive to work, to be on the lookout for animals outdoors who may be in trouble.

2. If you see an animal outdoors without proper shelter, food and water, the law is most likely being broken in every state. If you know the owner, please have a polite conversation with them about bringing the animal inside (if it’s a companion animal) or providing proper shelter, food and water (if it’s a farm or other animal). If that does not result in the immediate acknowledgement to correct the situation, please contact your local law enforcement (animal control or law enforcement) to report the situation. And then stay in contact with the agency to make sure that action is taken.

3. Be alert to animals in your neighborhood. If you have known stray and feral animals, ask neighbors to help you check on these animals frequently. Most animal control agencies will not pick up a stray or feral cat (due to lack of laws allowing this action), so it’s important for us to help them in this weather. If you find a stray or feral animal (that does not have an owner), locate shelters in your area that have warming centers to keep the animals warm and dry until they can be released back outdoors. Then obtain a humane trap to try to catch them and take them in to a warming center.

4. If trapping does not work or is not an option, create small animal enclosures that can be placed in your back yard or around your neighborhood. Alley Cat Allie’s has a webpage dedicated to some shelter options that are easy to make or can be purchased. Be sure to use straw (not hay) to insulate (a must) and make sure these shelters are free from accumulating snow.

5. If you have a barn, shed or other outdoor building that you would be willing to open up to stray and feral animals, all you need to do is crack the door a few inches to let them in. While this could end up being a messy endeavor, I have friends who do this with great success (all year round) and it gives a safe haven to these outdoor animals.

6. Make sure known strays, ferals or other animals that you have common legal access to have plenty of unfrozen clean water. Consider purchasing a bird fountain water heater.

7. If you feed the birds in your yard, do not stop during inclement weather. This is the time that they need bird food and fresh unfrozen water the most. Make sure bird feeders are cleaned of show, and try to position them under something that will protect the food and water from snow. My parents are avid bird feeders. When I was home during Christmas and the massive ice storm hit my hometown (with power outages for over a week), we went outside 1-2 times daily to refill the bird feeders and even leave unshelled peanuts for the squirrels.

8. Check underneath your car for stray animals before driving. They may seek shelter in your engine area or tire wells. Just bang on the hood of your car and kick your tires to let them know to leave.

9. Contact your local shelter and/or animal rescue organization and offer your assistance in providing food to feral cat colonies.

10. Take to social media and post this blog and other posts that you see on how to help outdoor animals during this weather. The more that we can educate others, the better animals will be.

And here are two additional posters that have great tips!

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Over the years, society has taken dogs in hot cars very seriously; animals in freezing environments must also be recognized as a deathly hazard. If you have other great ideas on how to help outdoor animals, please post a comment here or on my Facebook page! I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for caring and sharing!

Allie and her Scotty friend Grier

Allie and her Scotty friend Grier

About Allie:

Allie Phillips is a nationally-recognized author, attorney and animal advocate. As a prosecuting attorney volunteering in her local animal control shelter, she exposed the barbaric practice of pound seizure and has gone on to eliminate the practice in numerous shelters. That started her path as a strong, effective and respected animal advocate. Allie has been a federal and state animal protection lobbyist and as the director of the National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse at the National District Attorneys Association, she teaches criminal justice professionals on animal protection and prosecution issues. She has written the award-winning and only book on pound seizure: How Shelter Pets are Brokered for Experimentation: Understanding Pound Seizure and the award-winning go-to guide on getting involved to help animals: Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets. Most recently she co-authored Investigating & Prosecuting Animal Abuse: A Guidebook on Safer Communities, Safer Families & Being an Effective Voice for Animal Victims.

Join in on the conversation!

 

 

Happy Healthy Holiday Pets

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADid you know that the holiday season can be one of the most stressful time in your companion animal’s life? While we are busy preparing for, stressing over, and celebrating the season, our pet may take on unnecessary stress or become physically ill. But there are some simple things that you can do to have a Happy Healthy Holiday Pet!

In addition to my animal protection work, I also have an energy healing business where I offer healing to animals or train others on how to do so. As part of the trainings, I talk to people about how companion animals take on our stress (and even medical issues). They are energetically sensitive. I saw this first hand when I would come home some days, fully stressed out, and my cat Sammy would promptly vomit on the floor. He was taking in and expelling my stress. Once I realized this and shook off my stress before coming home, he stopped the welcome-home-vomitting! So be cautious to keep your stress underhand so that your pet does not take it on.

It’s important to keep a consistent schedule with your pet (playtime, cuddle time, going for a walk, etc.). Our schedules can become over burdened during the holidays and that is when our beloved pet may receive less attention from us. When we change our schedule with them, they do not understand why and may begin to have behavioral issues. So it is important to be consistent with them. Spending time with your pet will also help to reduce your stress.

Rudy's first xmas tree 120113If you have a new kitten or puppy, I would highly recommend slowly rolling out your holiday decorations. My cat Rudy (who is one year old) is celebrating his first Christmas in the Phillips home. Rudy has a kitten tendency to eat everything in site (including plastic bags, paper towels, etc.). To make sure that my artificial Christmas tree would be safe, I rolled it out in phases. First I put up the tree with nothing on it. Rudy chewed on it a few times and I stopped him. The next day I added lights and watched Rudy to make sure that he would not chew the wires. Then I added soft ornaments (lest he decide to smack one flying across the room). It can be overwhelming for our small furry friends to suddenly pull out all of our holiday decorations at once. To them, it may be like an amusement park of new play things.

Be careful about bringing in decorations that are poisonous to pets. Check this webpage from the ASPCA on plants and foods that are dangerous. The last thing that you want is for your pet to become sick and for your busy schedule to fit in an emergency room visit. Make sure that your home is holiday safe for your pets.

Happy Holiday Pets handoutI’ve created a helpful tip sheet listing 10 things that you can do to keep your pet happy and healthy this holiday season (and throughout the year). So click here to download it. When you can follow these ten tips, your pet will be healthy and happy through the holidays, and that will help you to relax.

 

 

Happy Holidays!

Me and Rudy

Allie and Rudy Allen Weasley

About Allie:

Allie Phillips is a nationally-recognized author, attorney and animal advocate. As a prosecuting attorney volunteering in her local animal control shelter, she exposed the barbaric practice of pound seizure and has gone on to eliminate the practice in numerous shelters. That started her path as a strong, effective and respected animal advocate. Allie has been a federal and state animal protection lobbyist and as the director of the National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse at the National District Attorneys Association, she teaches criminal justice professionals on animal protection and prosecution issues. She has written the award-winning and only book on pound seizure: How Shelter Pets are Brokered for Experimentation: Understanding Pound Seizure and the award-winning go-to guide on getting involved to help animals: Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets. Most recently she co-authored Investigating & Prosecuting Animal Abuse: A Guidebook on Safer Communities, Safer Families & Being an Effective Voice for Animal Victims.

Join in on the conversation!

 

 

Get busy during Adopt-A-Senior Pet Month

10-yr-old Houdini waits for a home with The Grannie Project in PA

10-yr-old Houdini waits for a home with The Grannie Project in PA

I love November because it is the month for one of my favorite pet events …. National Adopt-A-Senior-Pet Month! I love senior pets for so many reasons. My Lucy is 15-1/2 years old and Jacob is a youthful senior at 8 years old. Senior pets are fantastic to adopt because there are no personality surprises … what you see is what you get! But I am also the most sad when I see a senior pet lose a home and enter a shelter.

Having volunteered in shelters for the past 14 years, most adopters want kittens and puppies and overlook the wise and established pets. When I think about the cats that I have fostered over the years, it has usually been a senior pet that was not thriving in a shelter (or simply ran out of time). This is how my Jacob came in to my life last year when he lost his third home.

It  is always the senior pets who get sick from the stress of being in a shelter and from the trauma of losing their home and family. They can suffer unbearable grief and saddness because the life they once had is gone. I have always said that kittens and puppies are happy no matter what and can adapt to any setting, but senior pets mourn the loss of the people and homes that they loved and often don’t survive. 

10-yr-old Trudy waits for a home with Sanctuary for Senior Dogs in OH

10-yr-old Trudy waits for a home with Sanctuary for Senior Dogs in OH

But far too many people surrender their senior pet to a shelter, often because the pet is starting to have more medical expenses. When you adopt a pet, it’s for life. Period. You should understand that you will be taking on the expense of feeding, housing and providing medical care for the pet until the last day of their life. Getting rid of your senior pet is like putting an elderly family member at a nursing home and then never visiting or thinking about them again.

A senior pet will be so grateful if you adopt them. You will never be at a loss for love from that point forward. Here are 10 great reasons to adopt a senior pet (from Petfinder.com):

  • When senior pets are adopted, they seem to understand that they’ve been rescued, and are all the more thankful for it.
  • A senior pet’s personality has already developed, so you’ll know if he or she is a good fit for your family.
  • You can teach an old pet new tricks. Senior pets have the attention span and impulse control that makes them easier to train than their youthful counterparts.
  • A senior pet may very well already know basic household etiquette (like not attacking your feet at night) anyway!
  • In particular, senior cats are often already litter trained and are less likely to “forget” where the box is.
  • A senior pet won’t grow any larger, so you’ll know exactly how much pet you’re getting.
  • Senior pets are often content to just relax in your company, unlike younger pets, who may get into mischief because they’re bored.
  • Speaking of relaxing, senior pets make great napping buddies.
  • Senior cats often know that scratching posts (not furniture) are for scratching and toys (not hands or feet) are for biting.
  • Senior pets are some of the hardest to find homes for — so when you adopt a senior pet, you’re truly saving a life.

So if you are considering bringing a new pet in to your home, consider adopting a senior pet. Or get busy with one of these ideas:

  • Offer to foster a senior pet until a home is found. You will receive so much love and appreciation in return and will know that you truly saved a life.
  • Donate bedding to a shelter so that the senior pets can rest comfortably.
  • Donate money to help with veterinary expenses.
  • Volunteer to spend time with a senior pet at a shelter.
  • Share stories on social media about senior pets looking for homes in your area.
  • Write a blog or editorial for your local newspaper raising awareness about adopting senior pets.
  • Ask your local nursing or assisted living home if they would allow senior pets to live on-site to provide companionship to the residents.

All month on my Facebook page, I will feature senior pet rescue organizations who are doing amazing work, like The Grannie Project and Sanctuary for Senior Dogs. If you have adopted or fostered a senior pet, please share their story and their photo on my Facebook page. I love happy endings!

All my best,

Me and Lucy - Aug 09-cropped

Allie and my senior kitty Lucy

Join in on the conversations!

 

“This Old Cat” by KC Sievert Bingamon

I’m getting on in years, My coat is turning gray. My eyes have lost their luster, My hearing’s just okay. I spend my day dreaming Of conquests in my past, Lying near a sunny window Waiting for its warm repast.

I remember our first visit, I was coming to you free, Hoping you would take me in And keep me company. I wasn’t young or handsome, Two years I’d roamed the street. There were scars upon my face, I hobbled on my feet.

I could sense your disappointment As I left my prison cage. Oh, I hoped you would accept me And look beyond my age. You took me out of pity, I accepted without shame. Then you grew to love me, And I admit the same.

I have shared with you your laughter, You have wet my fur with tears. We’ve come to know each other Throughout these many years. Just one more hug this morning Before you drive away, And know I’ll think about you Throughout your busy day.

The time we’ve left together Is a treasured time at that. My heart is yours forever. I Promise – This old cat.

Dogs Dogs Dogs!

Meet 8-year-old Cocoa who is available for adoption at the Washington Humane Society (DC)

Meet 8-year-old Cocoa who is available for adoption at the Washington Humane Society (DC)

October is Adopt-A-Shelter Dog Month! It’s a month where we shift our focus to the millions of shelter dogs who enter American animal shelters every year, and where far too many are euthanized. It’s a month for us to do even just one thing to help out and save a life.

So whether you have a dog, are thinking about adopting a dog, or just want to help dogs, this is a great month to help! If everyone who loves dogs just does one thing this month, it will have a great impact in the wellbeing of shelter dogs.

Listed below are 31 simple things that you can do this month to help a shelter dog. My challenge to anyone willing to take it is to do something every day. Are you with me? Here we go!

1. Adopt a shelter dog!

2. Volunteer for your local animal shelter or a dog rescue organization. Dog walkers, groomers and socializers dogs (for hoarding, puppy mill or dog fighting rescues) are always needed.

3. Open your home to foster a senior shelter dog, a dog with medical issues, or a mom with her puppies.

4. If you love to write, blog on social media about Adopt-A-Shelter Dog month, or write an editorial or article for your local newspaper encouraging people to adopt this month.

5. Educate someone about proper dog care and the responsibility that lasts a lifetime.

6. Offer to drive shelter dogs to/from veterinary appointments, mobile adoption events, or to their new homes.

7. If you are in school or have children in school, get the class involved in rounding up donations, such as dog toys, dog beds (Kuranda beds are excellent), collars, leashes, or monetary donations.

8. Make a financial donation to your local animal shelter. Do not shy away from helping shelters that euthanize because every dollar they receive could save a life. Consider donating to a specific animal to help pay for their shelter care, vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, etc.

9. If your local shelter or dog rescue group has senior dogs, ask a nursing home or assisted living facility if they would welcome a senior dog to live as a “comfort dog” for the residents, or allow the residents to adopt.

10. When you are shopping for pet food, purchase an extra bag of food, dog treats, or a toy and take it to your local shelter.

11. Host a fundraiser to benefit shelter dogs. If you are a storeowner, put out a donation canister. If you have a book club, yoga group, or other social organization, host an event where members bring donations. Considering inviting the shelter to bring a few adoptable shelter dogs to be there for the event (that will really tug on some heartstrings).

12. If you are an energy healer, offer to spend a day or an afternoon offering energy healing to the shelter dogs. Energy healing can relax and calm a nervous dog and make them more adoptable.

13. Share dog adoption posts on social media (even if the dog is located in another state). This new way of advertising shelter pets is helping them find new homes.

14. Check on elderly pet owners to make sure that they have sufficient means to care for their pet. Offer to walk their dog, groom their dog or go shopping for dog food. Dogs are wonderful companions to lonely elderly people and we can help out to make sure that they stay together and that the dog does not end up in a shelter.

15. If you belong to a community group or church, ask if you can give a presentation this month on shelter dogs, proper dog care, or other dog-related services.

16. If you are creative, think up a new campaign to help shelter dogs in your area get adopted and then share that with your local shelter.

17. Purchase household and beauty products that are not tested on animals. The practice of pound seizure (where shelter dogs are used in research) is still allowed in some states. There are many options available now that we can all choose cruelty-free products. Go to Leaping Bunny for a listing.

18. Go to a training on how search and rescue for animals during disasters. Many of the national animal protection organizations offer these trainings. When search and rescue efforts happen, it results in less dogs going into shelters.

19. If you are technologically inclined, offer to build or host a website at no cost (or reduced cost) for an animal shelter or animal rescue organization.

20. If you love to photograph, offer to photograph the shelter dogs. Photographs really do help to get dogs adopted. I have been photographing shelter pets for over 14 years and it’s really a fun thing to do!

21. If you love to write, offer to write up descriptions for the shelter dogs and post them on Petfinder. I love to do this and I always write from the voice of the pet.

22. If you have a young child, take them with you when volunteering to help shelter dogs.

23. If you are a veterinarian or veterinary technician, volunteer your services for a free shelter dog spay-neuter weekend.

24. Sign online petitions that support and help rehome shelter dogs.

25. Consider obtaining a credit card or checks (yah, that’s old school, but some of us still use them) that support animal protection organizations.

26. If you are crafty, ask your local shelter or rescue group if they would be interested in handmade safe dog toys, dog blankets, or “Adopt Me” bandanas.

27. If you see a dog listed in a free-to-good-home advertisement, please contact the person and advise them to charge a minimum $50 fee for rehoming the dog, and to screen the person, otherwise the dog could end up in a dangerous situation. Be proactive and outspoken.

28. If you are involved in animal-assisted therapy and are looking for a new therapy dog to work with, go to your local shelter or rescue group and ask them what dog naturally has therapy dog traits.

29. If your state has laws that do not benefit shelter animals (such as allowing gas chambers, pound seizure, or have do not promote adoptions), contact one of these to offer your help in passing/supporting better legislation: HSUS State Director, ASPCA regional director, a large animal shelter in your state that works on legislation, or your legislator to ask him/her to support shelter animal protection legislation.

30. If a shelter worker is doing good work for shelter dogs, tell them that you appreciate their work (in person, an email, a hand written note, or have yummy snacks delivered to the staff). A little kindness towards the shelter worker will benefit the shelter dogs.

31. And for more ideas grab a copy of my book “Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets.”

There are so many ways that you can get involved to help shelter dogs. I hope you will do at least one thing to help a shelter dog this month. Please post me a comment here or on my Facebook page about what you are doing. And if you decide to do something everyday, definitely let me know because you will be an inspiration to others.

Me and Dr. Seuss dog

Allie and Dr. Seuss

About Allie:

Allie Phillips is a nationally-recognized author, attorney and animal advocate. As a prosecuting attorney volunteering in her local animal control shelter, she exposed the barbaric practice of pound seizure and has gone on to eliminate the practice in numerous shelters. That started her path as a strong, effective and respected animal advocate. Allie has been a federal and state animal protection lobbyist and nationally trains criminal justice professionals on animal protection and prosecution issues. She has written the award-winning and only book on pound seizure: How Shelter Pets are Brokered for Experimentation: Understanding Pound Seizure and the go-to guide on getting involved to help animals: Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets. 

Join in on the conversation!

 

 

Buy the Books

This guide is a must read for anyone who loves pets and wants to get involved to make their lives better.

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Pound seizure continues to be America's dirty little secret. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves animals.

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