The likelihood of being prosecuted for disciplining your animal in a humane and sensible fashion is low. Spanking dogs, however, is wrong.
You could have knocked me over with a feather after I read that on the FindLaw.com website this evening. I changed the entire plan of what I intended to write tonight in favor of this very hot and very near and dear to my heart topic.
I was exposed to an animal abuser when I was a child. Without going into explicit detail, it was horrific to watch, I can only imagine what the dog experienced, and looking back I know I was helpless. It doesn’t squash the occasional nightmare or “I wish I only had…” thoughts that creep into my mind when I’m thinking about everything and nothing.
This blog is called Fidose of Reality and that means keeping things real and first and foremost, for today’s modern dog parent. This article addresses what I feel about dog abuse, what the law states, and what you can do about it. There will be no horrific images in this post and it will contain facts and experiences.
Putting your hand(s) on a dog as a form of punishment is not only wrong but as harmful to the relationship you want with your dog. Counterproductive in fact.
In her book, It’s Me or the Dog famed positive reinforcement trainer and star of her own dog behavior show on Animal Planet, Victoria Stilwell, writes, “When you hit a dog, you teach him to fear you, break his trust, and you weaken his confidence. Insecure dogs are the ones who are more likely to lash out in an aggressive display.”
I wrote an entire blog post about why it is wrong to spank a dog (or any pet), which you should read for further insights on the topic.
Day after day I see the images of dog abuse filling my Facebook feed. I read the commentary of a fellow pet blogger today who shared her sentiments that abusive images need to stop.
Dogs (pets in general) are silent victims. They cannot tell anyone, they are someone’s punching bag, and millions of dogs will continue to live day in-day out, not knowing whether or not if the hand that feeds them will soon beat them.
Is a slap considered abuse? Is a tight neck jerk to inflict pain considered torture?
In the eyes of the law, you’d be hard pressed to get a conviction. FindLaw.com recently posted an article on the topic of what is or isn’t legal as it pertains to hitting your pets. What a lovely world in which we live wherein this is now up for debate.
The bottom line is pets are property in this country. You can be charged with animal cruelty, but that’s generally reserved for the more hard core cases and not the asshat who pretends to love a dog but slaps him when no one is looking.
If you know someone is causing psychological and/or physical abuse to a dog, what can you do?
This is a sticky one, and my answer might not be your answer but this is my reality and my truth: Act. Do something because if you don’t, remember that every other person in that pet’s life is doing nothing, too.
Since this post is all about coming clean, I had the occasion to cut someone loose from my life when I saw first hand, many times, how she treated her dogs. I am not a person who believes in, advocates for, agrees with, nor condones spanking or laying your hands on a dog for any reason other than healthcare, grooming, or love. After telling her repeatedly not to lay her hands on the dogs, she became very loud and in denial. I know what my eyes saw. Dogs should never be exposed to harm. Despite my attempts to teach her otherwise, I am certain the cycle continues. Yet my hands are tied. If dogs are fed, a roof is over their heads, and their basic needs are met, the law is on the side of the perpetrator.
That won’t stop me nor should it stop you.
A few years ago, I was out walking my dog. I witnessed a man chasing his dog down the street. Ever the “I’ll help, be right there” person that I am, my random act of kindness was quickly thwarted by a slap.
The dog apparently got loose while on a walk and his owner was chasing after him. As he scooped the little guy up (a shih tzu mix perhaps), he smacked the dog on the butt and repeatedly yelled over and over “No! No! No!” and jerked the dog close to him.
I yelled over “hey” and before a second word could float his way, he picked his dog up and quickly walked off, perhaps caught in the act or just not wanting to deal with an obviously stunned me.
Some people don’t want to hear it. My friends tell me someone is going to turn on me someday, with my crusading to educate and help save a dog. I wonder if my words help or hurt that dog when the owner gets behind closed doors.
I can’t do nothing. That means I don’t care. I care so much that a life with, for, and by dogs is my career choice. I never do anything with half measures. And I won’t start now.
Here are three things you can do if you suspect a dog is being harmed. If you think it is true abuse, never take matters into your own hands. Report the suspected abuse to the authorities. If you can keep a log of dates, times, and any pictures, do that as well.
1 If you are the one doing the spanking, please stop. Dogs are not trying to get back at you for peeing or pooping on a floor. Dogs bark. Spanking a dog will stop the moment, but you instill fear and pain into a dog. This is not what humans are meant to do, and especially not to a loving family member. And if you do this and can sleep at night, eyes closed, resting peacefully, wake up. This is messed up and you need to knock it off.
2 If you have a friend or family member who spanks their dog – for any behavior – please encourage them to work with a behaviorist and explain why spanking is wrong. A dog, like a baby, should never be spanked for simply being who they are.
3 If a stranger is spanking or harming a dog, you need to intervene at a level that you feel comfortable. If you fear for your life, by all means do not step in but call the authorities. Cell phones are a great device for capturing a video of something that is plain wrong.
Part of the Fidose of Reality mission is to educate people why spanking is wrong and why harming a dog, no matter the capacity, is not in the dog’s best interest.
I am as disgusted with these people as you are in reading about them. I couldn’t help that dog I watched suffer abuse when I was a child. I can, however, use my knowledge and voice to make a difference to dogs who otherwise suffer in silence.
Join me, won’t you? Act and stop it the next time it happens.