Picture it … there’s a knock on your door. When you answer, you are met by a child protective services official announcing they are here to inspect your home. You ask why, they won’t tell you. When asked for a warrant, you are told they don’t need one since you have 3 children. They stroll through your house, tsking over the dishes in the sink to examine your child’s hands and ears. With a declaration of “Just what we thought” all your children are gathered up and seized. Why? “Neglect, nails are too long and uncleaned ears”
It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Yet pet owners & breeders are being subjected to this treatment in increasing numbers as a direct consequence of two factors: ambiguous legislation, often touted as “Puppy Mill legislation” and the purposeful mis-use of powerful words such as ‘abuse’ & ‘neglect’. The combination of these factors can be devastating.
The previous and commonly accepted minimum standard of care for animals consisted of 3 things: food, water, shelter. Not providing one of those items could result in charges of neglect or abuse. Yet this is a standard we don’t necessarily apply to humans. People go hungry every day, people go without shelter everyday.
Now it is common to hear other items tossed into the definition of ‘neglect’ and ‘abuse’, as in recent well orchestrated Animal Control animal seizures.
- “Insufficient veterinary care” is neglect but people and children go without medical care everyday without us blinking
- ‘Bad teeth” is neglect, but people go without dental care everyday without our being bothered
- Long toenails, being ungroomed, dirty ears are neglect but people and children go unkempt all the time without us being disturbed except that it is not our choice
- Not being up-t0-date on every vaccine is neglect, yet for the most part vaccination is a personal choice for adults or parents beyond vaccines required for public health reasons
- Being confined is neglect, yet we restrict the freedom of adults and children all the time for their safety or our own
- And since “responsible pet owners S/N their pets”, owning an intact animal is a sure sign of neglect, yet we would be in an uproar of if surgery were mandated on ourselves or our children for social convenience
This is not a call to treat pets and other animals as children or people, rather to illustrate that many recent laws and many laws currently proposed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) hold animal owners and breeders to higher standards than we hold the standards for humans. Standards that we would be outraged by, if they were applied to humans. I believe that is something that should give us pause.
Copyright 2009 by Erica Saunders
All rights reserved