A Terrible Toll of Cruelty; the Rspca Is Witnessing a "Depressing Rise" in Victims of People's Throwaway Attitude to Animals

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), June 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

A Terrible Toll of Cruelty; the Rspca Is Witnessing a "Depressing Rise" in Victims of People's Throwaway Attitude to Animals


Byline: Paula Hall

A REPORT published by the RSPCA yesterday highlighted how cruelty to animals was deep-rooted in a throwaway society, in which inspectors say too many people have a callous disregard for their welfare. PAULA HALL reports

LEA the yellow Labrador loves a cuddle - yet the affection she shows for people was not returned the night she was abandoned in torrential rain.

She was found shivering and distressed in the grounds of the National Canine Defence League centre at Honiley just before midnight on Saturday.

Her plight is just one of hundreds reported by animal welfare charities in the region each year - she is a victim of what the RSPCA calls a throwaway attitude to animals, where people take on pets but don't then accept the responsibility for looking after them.

At Honiley, a number of pets have simply been left at the gates in the last year.

Canine carer Denise Hyde takes some comfort from the fact that they are at least left at the centre rather than wandering the streets, but is concerned at the number abandoned.

"I can understand that sometimes people are desperate to get their dogs in here but it's the worst thing anyone can do," she said. "You never really know why it happens - it could be personal reasons or just that they've become a bit of handful.

The charity is conducting its own survey into why people abandon animals.

Reasons include changes in family circumstances such as a divorce or new baby, buying a dog which people then realise doesn't fit into their lifestyle, or simply not realising the commitment and costs involved.

RSPCA Inspector Richard Seddon said over the years he had witnessed a depressing rise in blatant cruelty which people just walk away from, and in the number of cases involving exotic pets and other animals which owners acquire and then discard.

He said: "People are in a position where they have more money and can buy a pedigree dog and get bored and can dispose of it in whatever way they see fit, and that is an increasing trend.

"You're in a society where people have more possessions - but if you have an animal you can't just walk away from it because you have a responsibility to it."

While Lea was at least abandoned at a rehoming centre, other animals are not so lucky. Two kittens were almost crushed to death in Stratford in October after being dumped like rubbish at a waste disposal site.

RSPCA prosecutions act as a deterrent against such cruelty.

There is also now a growing emphasis on education.

Research by Manchester Metropolitan University for the RSPCA has revealed the reasons why people directly harm animals are varied, and suggests educating young people could hold the key to preventing cruelty.

The report recommends helping children to understand animals' needs and explore contradictions in what constitutes cruelty in society, such as through debates about fox hunting and factory farming.

The RSPCA is now launching a new educational resource, which can be incorporated into the national curriculum, to back up work already being undertaken in schools by the society's 60 education officers.

The study among 1,000 children and 100 adults focused mainly on young people since research indicates that attitudes to animals are formed in youth.

It found cruelty in all sectors of society and that more than half of the young people surveyed had either harmed animals themselves or knew either an adult or child who had - with incidents including shooting cats, dropping a concrete slab on a cat's head, juggling mice, kicking animals, and blowing up frogs with straws. …

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