I am inspired by many humans on a regular basis; being a member of so many dog groups and witnessing rescue after rescue it is truly uplifting. It is a crazy world that we live in; one that needs a lot of work and much of that work is with regards to how we treat animals and the people that abuse them. I was having a conversation on the weekend about abuse and when you should step in. What exactly is abuse and where do you draw the line and say enough?
Abuse: to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way.
There are many levels to abuse; some acts are so horrific that is unfathomable that a human could perpetrate them. And then there are the ones that may leave people on the sidelines asking themselves; "should I say something?" Some people treat their dogs very harshly; it can be confusing as to when you should intervene. I believe that if you feel like a dog is being hurt; then you step in. Of course there are times when you need to simply contact the authorities as it may be too dangerous for you to personally step in alone.
I remember an incident several years ago; I was at a dog park shooting dogs having fun when I heard some sort of commotion going on near the entrance of the park. I put my camera down and watched; a man had his yellow lab flipped onto his back and was hitting him. My blood began to boil; I turned and headed right for them. Seeing how angry this man was at his dog I knew what I was in for when I confronted him; but I did it anyhow. Some things you just cannot leave unsaid. I told him to stop hitting his dog; he told me to mind my own business. He said the dog was his and said I should go back to what I was doing before something happened to me. Oh yes; he threatened me loud and clear. My adrenaline was rushing and I stood my ground. He told me the dog was running too much; he had just had surgery not long ago. ?????????? So he brought his dog to the park; to not run around????????????? We had some heated words; feeling like I'd made my point and the fact that the dog was now up and on his feet I went to the other side of the park.
The others who were in the park had been sideline spectators; they knew this guy and obviously did not want to get involved. Now the guy knew that everyone was watching him and the tension in the park was thick. About 20 min. after the incident the man came over and apologized; I was floored. In the heat of it all he was not backing down; throwing stupid facts around to support his behavior. Things were different now; had I got through his thick head, even just a tiny bit? Perhaps; and this is why you should say something. Sometimes all it takes is a few words to make people see the err in their ways. Of course sometimes what you say will have no effect but you will not have stood by and not said or done anything.
Abuse can take many forms; from direct hitting, yanking around on a collar, chaining or tying in a yard, not feeding or housing a dog. Another recent incident has opened my eyes to another form of abuse, not offering medical attention. People who have dogs that are physically injured, ill or just have something not right need to take them to a veterinarian. If they choose not to repair the dog; this is abuse. There is no excuse not to take a sick or injured dog to the vet. There are so many groups out there now willing to help out; that money is simply not an excuse. And when you take a dog into your home as part of your family it is your obligation to keep that dog safe and healthy.
Tact is always the best approach when dealing with an abuser. As in my case the man was already in an angry violent state when I approached him. It can go very wrong; but if you go in for the right reasons, to help the dog you must remain level headed. Sometimes that is not easy; it took everything in me to stay level headed. But the bottom line is to help the dog. And if an ounce of what you have said sinks in even the smallest amount you may have saved a dog from further abuse. Dogs deserve this much from us.