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Helping Animals

What is animal abuse?

Animal abuse involves a range of behaviors harmful to animals, from neglect to killing. Most cruelty investigated by humane officers is accidental neglect that can be resolved through education. Cruelty on purpose can be knowingly not giving an animal food, water, shelter, socialization, or veterinary care to hurting or killing an animal. Animal neglect is a common type of animal cruelty where people do not provide care or basic needs for animals in their charge. 

Why do people abuse animals?

Animal cruelty is often done by people who feel powerless, unnoticed, or under the control of others. Some who are cruel to animals copy acts they have seen or that have been done to them. Others see harming an animal as a safe way to get revenge against or threaten someone who cares about that animal. Animal abuse is a concern because it is wrong to cause pain and suffering to any living creature. Cruelty on purpose is especially a concern because this can be a sign of distress and can indicate that the person has experienced their own type of violence in their lives or is at risk for committing acts of violence themselves.

Why do animals need to be rescued?  

Animals are often abandoned or given up to shelters by their owners for reasons such as allergies, moving, or the cost of keeping the pet. According to Animal League, more than 70,000 puppies and kittens are born daily in the United States. Most of these animals are either lost or set free due to different reasons and situations that then cause them to be without healthy homes. Because of pet overpopulation, more than 3.7 million animals are being euthanized annually in shelters across the country. Also, some animals are raised in mills that are unsafe and cause permanent damage to the animals. Farm animals are sometimes kept in unhealthy conditions or are given up due to the cost of expensive medical treatment or food.

What types of animals need to be rescued? 

Common pets, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and reptiles are found on the streets and in shelters in huge numbers.  Also, there are many farm animals such as horses, pigs, goats, and chickens that are not living in safe or protected conditions. (If you are interested in learning about rescuing wildlife animals, you’ll find more about those animals in that section!)

What is an animal shelter or sanctuary? 

An animal shelter or sanctuary is a place where an animal can stay when they don’t have anywhere else to live. Animals may end up in a shelter or sanctuary if they have been turned in by owners, found on the streets, or have been rescued from a situation involving abuse or neglect.  Animal shelters or sanctuaries provide animals with food, water, shelter, medical care, and social interaction. A big problem that shelters and sanctuaries have to deal with is that there is never enough room to take in all of the animals that are found or rescued.

Learn More

Video: What is an Animal Shelter?Video: The “End Animal Homelessness” Project(PDF) Books on this topic(PDF) Books on this topic part 2(PDF) Service Project Ideas

Animals Helping People

Endangered Species

Helping Animals


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