Animal abuse is a social ill that is seen too often in the world today. We learned of a case where authorities were called to investigate a suspected accident involving a dog that onlookers believed was hit by a car. When officer Andrew Price of a Delaware Animal Services agency responded to the call, it became obvious that there was a more insidious reason for the dog’s injuries. The officer was amazed how the injured dog named Bill welcomed and trusted Price’s offer of help. The two formed an instant bond. He picked up the horribly injured dog who had obviously been abused by a human. Bill collapsed in on the officer in a way that suggested he knew his rescuer had arrived. It was a touching moment for Price. The story shared on 6ABC gives us a sobering look at the suffering some animals endure at the hands of cruel owners.
The New Castle, Delaware first responder had compassion for the dog. Animals have a special ability to sense danger, or when the intentions of a person are good. Although many abused animals develop a mistrust of people, this wasn’t the case for Bill. The sweet pup was just looking for relief from his suffering. Price knew instantly that if the dog survived his injuries he would take him into his home as a new member of the family. He took the dog to the VCA Newark Animal Hospital for care. They were able to treat his injuries and stabilize him. No details about the nature of the injuries have been disclosed, other than the fact that they were severe and inflicted by a human. Bill responded well to treatment and is in the process of recovering from the February 5, 2021 incident. He is doing well and has found a new home with officer Price. The case is still under investigation and police have asked the community to help identify the perpetrators behind the abuse inflicted on this helpless pet.
The duty to serve and protect
The state of Delaware has laws in place to protect the rights of animals. Brandywine Valley SPCA advertises the mission of the agency on its official website along with education for the public about how to identify animal cruelty and to report it to the appropriate authorities. The mission of the Brandywine Valley SPCA is to prevent abuse and protect companion animals because no animal deserves to suffer from the cruelty of humans. They encourage members of the community to get involved and support the mission to stop animal cruelty and to hold those accountable who cruelly treat their animals.
According to Animal Law DE, Delaware law protects the right of animals to live without cruel treatment. The state has sanctioned anti-cruelty and fighting provisions in its declaration of state law. Intentional cruelty to animals or reckless behaviors leading to cruel mistreatment, neglect, killing, or injuring an animal you own, or who belongs to another person is illegal. Engaging in animal fighting is categorized as a Class F felony. Even being a spectator at an animal fight is a class A misdemeanor. Anyone who engages in a practice that is considered to be cruel to animals is subject to prosecution under the law, along with fines for these violations.
Anyone who sees an animal being mistreated can access help to launch an investigation into the situation. Contacting authorities is the best way to help. If you know of animals being subjected to cruel treatment, it’s a responsibility that we all share to report. If you’re not sure what the law defines as cruelty, here are a few tips that help legally define animal cruelty that makes an incident actionable by animal protection agencies.
- Shelter – All animals must be given shelter from the elements. The structure must not be made of metal as these can become deadly in the heat of summer. The structure must allow the animal to stay warm and dry if it is an outside pet.
- Medical care – All animals must be given appropriate veterinary care. Animals that are sick or injured must be taken to a qualified veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment of their health conditions.
- Clean and sanitary living conditions – All animals must be provided with clean and sanitary living conditions. The living space must be free from clutter and debris. All waste must routinely be removed to maintain a healthy living environment.
- Food and water – All animals in care must have access to clean and safe food and water. They must be provided with enough water and food to maintain healthy hydration and body weight.
- Care and maintenance – Animals that are not cared for are considered to be abandoned. It is not legal to abandon an animal under your care.
- Abuse and neglect – No animal my be beaten or neglected. If physical abuse occurs or if the reasonable needs of the animal are not attended to, the owner is considered to be neglectful. These are grounds for reporting, investigation, and action by animal control authorities.
Officer Price and Bill both have a happy ending to a story that is otherwise heart-wrenching. Someone in Delaware caused harm to an innocent and vulnerable animal and animal protection authorities are taking it seriously. Law enforcement is hoping that someone will step forward to identify the person(s) involved in the case. People who can not or will not treat their animals humanely should not have ownership. The laws against animal cruelty are strict and they are enforceable, at least in the state of Delaware. If more people would get involved and report any suspicions of animal cruelty, we would see the number of incidences drop dramatically. Times are changing and tolerance for animal cruelty is hitting an all-time low, but there’s more work to be done. We must all become involved to help protect the rights of animals and ensure their safety within our own communities. Start holding the abusers accountable for their actions to discourage animal cruelty.