The ASPCA is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case of a deceased cat discovered inside a cooler with a rope tied around its neck on September 2 in Lee County, Florida.
The female gray-and-white tabby was found by a resident on the side of the road on Elva Avenue in Lehigh Acres, according to Lee County Domestic Animal Services, which is leading the investigation. The cat appears to have been strangled.
“This is a truly sickening case of animal cruelty, and the heartlessness demonstrated by those responsible is shocking,” said Stacy Wolf, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group. “While our ultimate hope is that this type of heinous act never occurs, this is a message that cruelty to animals will not be tolerated in our society. We thank Lee County Domestic Animal Services for its commitment to finding justice for this animal.”
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Lee County Domestic Animal Services by calling 239-533-7387, ext. 2 or Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS. Lee County Domestic Animal Services accepts anonymous information.
Please be vigilant in your community and report suspected abuse. Visit our Fight Cruelty page to learn which agencies are responsible for investigating and enforcing anti-cruelty laws in your area.
As summer heats up, it’s tempting to bring your pet with you on car rides around town. Sadly, many people believe that cracking a window is enough to keep their dogs cool in the car while they make a quick pit stop—but they couldn’t be more wrong. When it’s 80 degrees outside, your car will be a staggering 114 degrees in less than 30 minutes.
Worse still, dog can’t cool themselves down as easily as people, and once they overheat, they can suffer extensive organ damage or die. That’s why leaving an animal alone in a car is more than just a bad idea, it’s a form of animal cruelty. And since the ASPCA can’t be everywhere at all times, we need YOU to be our eyes and ears on the ground.
To help save animals from dying in hot cars, take the following actions:
Immediately call animal control or 911 if you see an animal trapped in a hot car. Local law officials have the ability to enter the vehicle and rescue the pet.
Do not leave until help has arrived.
Notify the managers of nearby businesses so they can make an urgent announcement.
We are working hard to spread awareness about the dangers of hot cars, but all too often, the difference between life and death comes down to the actions of individuals like you. We hope you will join our cause by keeping an eye out for dogs in distress, and by making a donation today. Together, we can prevent more tragedies and make this summer our safest season yet.
The ASPCA and the New York City Police Department are reporting significant progress in the fight against animal cruelty since January 1, when the NYPD took the lead role in responding to all animal cruelty complaints in NYC and the ASPCA expanded its direct care support for its victims.
Through June 30, there were 70 arrests and nearly 200 animals rescued and treated by the ASPCA, an increase of nearly 160% and 180%, respectively, over the same period last year.
The record-breaking increases are a result of accelerated and widened police responses to alleged animal abuse complaints, as well as the ASPCA’s increased direct care support for animal cruelty victims, including medical treatment, behavior assessments and rehabilitation, and housing and placement.
“The clear success of this partnership underscores the incredible impact that can be achieved when law enforcement and animal welfare groups collaborate,” says Matthew Bershadker, President and Chief Executive Officer of the ASPCA.
“We are protecting some of New York City’s most vulnerable residents by enforcing laws against animal cruelty,” says Police Commissioner William J. Bratton. “The NYPD will continue this extremely worthwhile partnership with the ASCPA, and we look forward to our continued success.”
The ASPCA has increased our assistance to law enforcement officials in the form of forensics work, comprehensive legal services, field assistance, and ongoing training and educational materials for officers. All eight NYPD patrol boroughs, several detective boroughs, the Housing Bureau, the Transit Bureau, and the Legal Bureau—as well as a number of assistant district attorneys—have been trained by ASPCA staff with extensive NYPD or New York City prosecutorial experience.
Most of us find acts of animal abuse so shocking and horrific that the thought alone makes us wince. But most is not all, and judging by recent acts of deliberate, depraved cruelty in our own backyard, we’re disturbingly far from all.
In May, King, a one-year-old male cat, was lured over by a young Brooklyn man and then brutally kicked 20 feet into the air as he and his friends laughed. We know this because one of those friends recorded the moment in a video that was posted on Facebook on May 5, prompting a strong and justified public outcry. With help from the North Shore Animal League and other rescuers, King was soon located, and the New York Police Department brought him to the ASPCA Animal Hospital on May 6. He was immediately given medical and behavioral care and made a full recovery.
Another cat, Quattro, was much less fortunate. On May 7, in Paterson, N.J., Quattro was allegedly tortured by three children, all under 12. According to news reports, the kids threw bricks, stones and sticks at the cat. After older children rescued Quattro from the abuse, he was cared for at Chance at Life Cat Rescue, a local animal rescue group. Suffering from broken legs, a broken jaw, a fractured eye socket and head trauma, Quattro was euthanized on May 15 to end his suffering.
These are not isolated acts of cruelty. Just look at each of the previous three months.
In April, Roxie, a young Rottweiler, was brought to the ASPCA after being slashed, stabbed and dumped in a trash can. Roxie is receiving medical treatment at the ASPCA.
In March, Otis, a young pit bull mix, was brought to our animal hospital by the NYPD after he was abandoned in upper Manhattan. A veterinary examination determined that the dog had multiple blunt force trauma injuries and multiple fractures. Otis is continuing to undergo daily rehabilitation exercises.
And in February, a 13-week-old goldendoodle puppy named Miley was seized by the NYPD and brought to the ASPCA Animal Hospital. Although the dog’s caretaker claimed she fell down stairs, a veterinarian who examined the puppy observed a number of injuries more consistent with being kicked or thrown. Miley was fortunately able to make a full recovery in our care. She was adopted shortly thereafter.
Sometimes, acts of cruelty stir such attention and outrage that positive change results. I think of Justin, a cat who was lit on fire just over a year ago in Philadelphia. Though he lost his ears, Justin recovered and is now a symbol for the horrors of animal cruelty, but also for the perseverance of animals and humans to overcome it. Justin has over 135,000 fans on his Facebook page and frequently makes public appearances to bring attention to pet welfare issues.
I also think of Patrick, a pit bull who was found near death at the bottom of a Newark apartment building’s trash chute in 2011. Weighing less than 20 pounds when he was found, Patrick recovered and is the inspiration for New Jersey’s “Patrick’s Law,” signed last year by Gov. Chris Christie. The law increases penalties for animal cruelty offenses in the state.
Both Patrick and Justin were inducted into the 2014 New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association’s “Animal Hall of Fame,” and I was honored to meet them and their caretakers at the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey’s annual conference back in March.
But to truly end animal cruelty, we need to look beyond institutional remedies in our government and courts. The truth is, longer prison terms and stiffer penalties – while absolutely necessary as law enforcement tools – are less effective when it comes to stopping suffering as it happens or even earlier.
To make necessary and meaningful change, we can look to the histories of other social causes.
Drunk driving laws have been on the books since the early 1900s, but without a reliable way to measure sobriety and – more importantly – a public outcry for such laws to be strongly enforced, there was no momentum to abide by or to enforce them. Just consider the phrase “one for the road.” But in the early 1980s, Candy Lightner and her organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, put intense public pressure on state and local governments to effect change, which shifted attitudes. As a result, arrests went up more than 220% from 1970-1986, and the number of drunk driving deaths in America has been cut in half since Mothers Against Drunk Driving was founded in 1980.
Now consider domestic violence, which, for decades, was seen as a family matter, and at worst, a man’s prerogative. Things only started changing toward the end of the 20th century, when the women’s movement and domestic violence victim advocates exposed the pressing need for life-saving laws and dedicated law enforcement. By 2005 non-fatal domestic violence incidents were reduced by nearly 50%. There was also a 51% increase in the reporting of domestic violence. It all started with people – regular people, like me and you – putting these issues on the forefront of our national consciousness.
I believe these two examples and others illustrate a roadmap for those of us who care about animal welfare. At the end of that road, animal cruelty will not be the problem just for people who care about animals, but a problem for everyone who believes a civilized society has inherent and necessary standards of humanity. Basically, if we can evolve societal attitudes about drunk driving and domestic violence, why can’t we spark a continual evolution of thoughts and values on animal cruelty?
So how do we get there?
One step we must take is to strongly encourage the public to report animal cruelty, just like we encourage them to report suspicious packages or people. Having accessible, visible avenues to report animal abuse – strongly supported and promoted by the media, community, law enforcement, and within the family – not only saves lives but reinforces the message that animals deserve our concern and protection.
If the older neighborhood kids who intervened in the torture of Quattro knew enough to step in, then anyone can do the same, regardless of age or background. You don’t need a degree in veterinary science or animal welfare experience to spot and stop animal cruelty – for most of us, that sensitivity is built into our internal values.
Here in New York City, thanks to our in-depth partnership with the NYPD, anyone can dial 311 to report suspected animal abuse (or 911 to report crimes in progress). The NYPD is trained to respond and investigate. Here are more ways to report animal abuse where you live.
The next step is to share these stories. We know pets have a unique ability to move all kinds of people. I believe King, Quattro, Roxie, Otis, Miley, Patrick, Justin, and the thousands of other victimized animals they represent across the country can still make a deep impact on a closed mind or a callous attitude. And one open mind leads to another, and another.
We may never live in a world where every animal is treated humanely, compassionately and respectfully, but that doesn’t mean we should ease up on our vigilance. If anything, we need to double down on our efforts – in legislation, in our courts, and in law enforcement– but even more so in our social circles, which are becoming wider and wider by the minute.
Our animals deserve it, and our humanity demands it.
Earlier this week, legislators in Suffolk County, New York—which occupies the eastern half of Long Island—passed a local ordinance regulating the sale of puppies in pet stores, becoming the first locality in the state to take advantage of a recent change to state law that allows municipalities to regulate pet dealers. While New York State finally allows local governments to enact and enforce tougher laws on pet stores, they cannot enact outright bans on the sale of puppies. Despite this, there are still some very effective alternatives to keep puppy mill puppies out New York’s pet shops.
We commend the county for its desire to do what our state’s government is not doing—it is the right instinct, and we hope this well-intentioned legislation will have some positive results for dogs and consumers.
However, we urge other communities interested in fighting puppy mill cruelty to pursue more targeted and effective models for such legislation. The Suffolk County approach prohibits pet stores from selling puppies who come from breeders with certain violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), relying on these standards as indicators of humane care. The problem with this approach is that federal standards are too minimal to screen out many significant, well-established welfare problems. For Suffolk County, this means that puppy mill puppies will still likely be sold in pet stores. Given what we’ve learned from years of helping law enforcement handle puppy mill raids, we believe that basing regulation of pet store sales on the inadequate and poorly enforced USDA standards is a limited approach, especially given the shortcomings of current federal law.
Under USDA standards, dogs in commercial breeding facilities can legally be kept in tiny wire-floored cages, stacked on top of one another, for their entire lives. We have witnessed and treated the sores and painful injuries dogs endure when they live 24/7—with no relief—on these wire floors. We have walked into puppy mills that were considered compliant with USDA standards and found female dogs whose bodies are broken down from continuous, unrelieved breeding—breeders do not, legally, ever have to skip a cycle and give a mother dog’s body a chance for recovery. These dogs stare back at us through lackluster eyes reflecting their broken spirits and worn out bodies, legs bowed from depleted bones and coats dull from the endless nursing and exhaustion.
Take a look at our gallery of breeder photos taken by federal inspectors during routine inspections of licensed facilities and see for yourself where most pet store puppies really come from and what it means for a breeder to be USDA-licensed and compliant with the regulations this new ordinance deems acceptable. To illustrate what’s legal, the photo below depicts housing conditions that are totally legal under federal law. The dogs in the picture can be kept in the cages shown for their entire lives, churning out litter after litter of puppies.
Sutmiller, Dorothy & Johnny & Shawn, USDA License #73A2583. Inspection on June 12, 2013.
Even if the standards were adequate, they're poorly enforced. Take a look at a scathing report from the Inspector General on the USDA's lax enforcement of the law regulating breeders (heads up, it's a little graphic!) and judge for yourself whether basing pet store regulation on the USDA system is enough to keep all puppies from puppy mills out of pet stores. We don't think it is. Violations like the ones in the pictures below demonstrate just how systemic the problems are and how both enforcement and the standards themselves are lacking.
Puppies’ feet falling through wire flooring. Miller, Eli, USDA License #43A5541. Inspection on August 18, 2011.
Sores between a dog’s toes from living on wire flooring. Lapp, Elmer, USDA License #32A0363. Inspection on December 14, 2011.
An over-bred female Beagle. Miller, Roy, USDA License #31A0276. Inspection on September 26, 2012.
We realize that a small step forward could be worth taking in some situations, but we believe local governments in the Empire State can do better. New York State’s recent move to allow local governments to enact these ordinances demonstrates an appetite to reduce the cruelty of the pet trade. There’s a better way to achieve this goal than the Suffolk County approach. We know that there are many towns, cities, villages and counties in New York that are considering regulating pet store sales, and we stand at the ready to help them do it in the most effective way possible.
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