Other Voices: Coalition’s goal is to make life better for animals | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Coalition’s goal is to make life better for animals

Local animal welfare organizations have recently joined forces, creating the Coalition for Animal Welfare and Support. This group is dedicated to promoting a safe environment and humane standard of living for animals in Nevada County.

Recently, animal cruelty concerns have emerged within the county, and our organization is moving to increase awareness of these issues with the public. Animal cruelty, defined as “the act of causing unjustifiable pain, suffering, torture, injury or death to an animal,” includes failure to provide necessary food, water, care, veterinary treatment and shelter. State laws prohibit many acts of cruelty, such as beating animals, leaving animals in enclosed vehicles in extreme weather, restraining animals in the back of pick-ups and chaining dogs for periods exceeding three hours.

CAWS is also concerned about other aspects of animal welfare not covered by laws but necessary for reasonable animal treatment. Lack of socialization, animal neglect and apathy are considered cruelty; failure to spay and neuter may also be considered cruelty when offspring are not provided for and/or adopted. Unaltered animals are susceptible to certain reproductive diseases, including some types of cancer. Our organization wants to see all animals treated humanely, which includes providing love, attention, exercise and being treated well.

Why should you care? You should care because there are times when animals cannot defend or care for themselves, and they are dependent upon people to be their guardians and caregivers. You should care because cruelty to animals is a common denominator in children and adolescents who become serial killers and violent criminals. You should care because children who abuse animals are twice as likely to get in trouble for other forms of violence. Substantial numbers of violent offenders have early records of animal cruelty. Reporting such acts (animal abuse) may get the child help, which could prevent further escalation. Why should we care? We should care because, quite simply, it’s the right thing to do.

The coalition believes that if more people become aware of cruelty issues, animal welfare in the county can be improved by a number of means. A “first-line” defense of animal abuse would be addressing abuse issues one-on-one between friends, neighbors and acquaintances in a friendly, nonthreatening way. Another would be to report violations of law to authorities (the sheriff’s office and local police departments). CAWS stresses, however, that our intention is not to be animal cops. We just want you to know that when you see something that makes you uncomfortable, you can do something about it.

Members of CAWS are encouraging open discussions with city and county officials – including county supervisors, city councils and law enforcement – to gain support for humane treatment. They are also encouraging full enforcement of the laws with associated penalties for violations.

You can help by getting involved with the different activities and efforts of CAWS and by joining organizations that work hard for the safe and humane treatment of animals. CAWS is comprised of many caring people and organizations that have joined together for the welfare and support of animals (See the box with this column)1.

Set a good example for others by being a responsible pet owner. Speak up for animals and encourage others to do the same. Let’s teach our children to respect animals so that they may reap the rewards of a more humane society in their future.

CAWS meetings are held the first Monday of every month, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Superintendent of Schools Office, Houser Room, 112 Nevada City Highway in Nevada City.

Animal welfare groups

To learn more about the prevention of animal cruelty, go to the following Web sites: http://www.aspca.org (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals); http://www.hsus.org (Human Society of the United States); http://www.pet-

abuse.com (Pet-Abuse.com).

For more information and to report incidents of suspected abuse locally, contact the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office (265-7880), the Nevada City Police Department (265-2626), the Grass Valley Police Department (477-4600) or Nevada County Animal Control (273-2179).

For information regarding CAWS, contact Pamela Gorman at forpetsake@sbcglobal.net or 272-8323.

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