Owning and caring for a dog properly signifies the bond between man and beast, loyalty and friendship, but sometimes these fragile bonds are broken due to owner neglect and abuse. Take for instance, the 2007 animal cruelty case against pro-football player Michael Vick. According to news reports Michael Vick, a former quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons held captive up to 54 pit bulls on land he owned in Virginia so that the dogs could be trained to fight in illegal dog rings. As the story unfolded dog owners everywhere learned of the atrocity the pit bulls had suffered in Vick’s care. The dogs were hung, drowned, and forced to run on treadmills for hours upon hours as part of a training regimen. Dog owners, animal activists, and supporters took to the streets, web forums, social media and other outlets to express their anger and outrage demanding Vick receive the maximum punishment for his crimes. Others argued Vick did nothing unusual, nothing new, heck he wasn’t even there. As a pet owner I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to cause harm to those helpless animals. Obtaining a dog is incredibly easy and cases of animal abuse and neglect on dogs are often harsh and unforgettable, due to this law makers should make it harder to obtain dogs by requiring intensive evaluation of potential owners and families as well as enforce tougher penalties on those in dog abuse/cruelty cases to ensure the well beings of adopted dogs.
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Every day dogs are being adopted out to complete strangers. The animal shelters and breeders adopting these dogs out know absolutely nothing about the owners or where the dogs will end up. The benefits of having an intensive evaluation on potential pet owners would eliminate another horrific event such as the Vick case. With the intensive evaluation for potential owners not only would it eliminate horrific cases it would also seek to understand potential dog owners and their motives. Of course we cannot stop all cases of abuse but this strategy can also promote healthier relationships between people and dogs by allowing the dogs to be with a more caring and responsible caregiver. The evaluation will require that potential owners spend a reasonable amount of time with the dog to ensure that the dog is comfortable around them. The evaluation would also require the potential dog owner to show adequate housing, space, and safety for the dog while in the owner’s care.
As with most arguments there are two sides, the evaluation of potential dog owners would not allow individuals who have committed dog abuse or neglect previously to get a second chance. One may argue that individuals who do commit crimes of cruelty against dogs should be given a second chance. Owning an animal is a privilege once that privilege is destroyed there should be rehabilitation, but definitely not a second chance. The evaluations may also cause individuals to take drastic measures in obtaining a dog the illegal way by falsifying documentations such as the dog’s potential living arrangements. These intensive evaluations would have to be enacted by Animal shelters and breeders before they can release any dogs to any potential owner.
Cases of animal abuse and cruelty seldom make it into the news, and often the culprits who commit these crimes get away. With tougher penalties and laws for those accused of dog abuse and cruelty, we as human beings can make sure that justice for abused dogs is served to the full extent. The laws would require longer sentencing for suspects in cases of animal abuse and cruelty. The maximum an individual could get for cruelty to dogs is between0-6 months, or 1-3 years depending on your state. The law would also require suspects to be entered into a national pet database that will go to animal shelters and breeders throughout the U.S so that these individuals are never allowed to own a dog again. Although, these laws will take some effort from dog owners, supporters of animals’ rights, and politicians in getting enacted, until they do dog abuse and cruelty will continue to take place in the privacy of homes. The laws are not seal proof but they are a start.
Dogs, affectionately nicknamed man’s best friend should be treated as such. What Michael Vick did to those pit bulls at his home in Virginia shined crude light into the dark reality of severe animal abuse, neglect and cruelty. The whole tragedy of those defenseless dogs could have been avoided had tougher requirements for owning a dog been put into place and tougher laws set forth so that other dogs could be protected.