Friday, May 1, 2009

What is Humane?

Along the path that I take to the Express Bus in the mornings is a tire repair shop. Right next to it is a gated section with a dirt floor that has an old truck, old tires and car parts and basically a lot of junk. Whenever I passed by I will see two dogs. Whether it was cold, warm, sunny or raining, they were there. Immediately I decided that I should contact the ASPCA. It wasn’t that they looked skinny or physically abused in any way, it just seemed inappropriate for them to be living in such unsanitary conditions. I asked someone what they thoughts were about this and was simply told that these are junk yard dogs and that is how they lived. Their job was to guard the junk. I tried to accept that fact until one dreadfully rainy evening I was walking home and passed them sitting by the gate in the rain. They looked miserable and appeared too unhappy to bark or even to try and guard the vicinity. At that point I decided that I should do something.

Taking note of the name of the establishment and its exact location, the next day I contacted the ASPCA. The woman on the line told me that they will investigate it. For a few days I didn’t see the dogs and thought to myself that the ASPCA probably removed them. Then one morning as I headed to work, I saw one of them with several puppies around her.

As soon as I got on the bus I contacted the ASPCA and followed up on my complaint. I was surprised that the person remembered that I had called before. She told me that they closed the case on that complaint. She said even though the area is unsanitary, when the worker went there, the area was swept. Also, there is a shelter invisible from the street, way in the back behind the truck. There are many dogs there she said, but they were a healthy weight, had water and sufficient shelter and so therefore their living condition were deemed adequate. I thought well maybe I misjudged the situation. After all, if the ASPCA say their living environment is fine, then maybe it is. However, days later I passed by again and saw them sitting on a muddy wet ground, staring mournfully at me behind the locked gate.

I started to think what is considered a humane living condition for a dog? According to the ASPCA’s website in New York State, “a dog is considered adequately cared for when it has water, food, minimal shelter such as a basic dog house and a chain that is at least five feet (1.5m) in length. The law allows the dog to be left outdoors all the time even in freezing or soaring temperatures with minimal human contact.” I was horrified. At least now I realize that my interpretation was correct but the ASPCA can only act within the confines of the law.

Now my goal is to find out what can be done about such a law. I’m sure there are many who see nothing wrong with this. After all why would a dog need a neat comfortable place to live and human contact? Perhaps they themselves at one time had gotten a cute little puppy. They played with it everyday and showed it lots of attention. Then eventually, they got bored with it, chained it outside and forgot about it. Who cares? It is just a dog.

I know there are many others who feel the exact opposite. Perhaps you know what steps individuals can take to make the dog law in New York State stricter. My other question is what are the animal organizations doing about this? Stay tuned.

In the meantime to learn how to spot animal cruelty go to

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