You’re used to reading here and elsewhere about larger cruelty deployments in which The HSUS is involved, and that’s an important role we play as an organization with highly trained responders and a full-fledged animal response team. A large-scale animal cruelty case can be costly, and it is sometimes difficult for local societies and municipal animal care and service agencies to take them on without incurring serious expense and hardship. When local agencies reach out to us for assistance, we always look for a way to say yes, because we know our help can decrease the burden on smaller organizations. This work is a part of our historical legacy and it’s going to continue to be a core element of our commitment.
In addition to our Animal Rescue Team deployments, we do our best to strengthen the hand of local societies and law enforcement agencies in their response to cruelty. Our approach is multi-faceted. We push for legislation that will help crack down on cruelty, such as cost of care legislation that removes the financial burden of the care of animals rescued, and placing it on the offender. Through our Law Enforcement Training Center and our Humane State Program, we’ve trained thousands of law enforcement officials on how to detect cruelty, and enforce their local laws. Our reward program adds yet another facet. While we wish everyone would come forward if they see cruelty or have information on a case, that doesn’t always happen, and a financial incentive can make the difference.
This July brought a slew of cases to our attention. We’ve done our best to respond, offering rewards of up to $5,000 in connection with information needed to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of animal cruelty in a variety of situations around the country. I hope you’ll help in spreading the word about these cases and finding those responsible.
In the days following the 4th of July, I was horrified to read about a cat in Richland County, Ohio, in terrible condition after someone set off a firecracker in her rectum. It was unclear if she would survive the injuries, but she did, and was released from the hospital last week, into the care of the Humane Society of Richland County, and is making headlines around the world. We contributed to the reward fund—currently at $23,000, and hope that it leads to the conviction of the perpetrator.
Not two weeks later, we sponsored a reward in support of the Friends of Louisville Metro Animal Services, for information concerning a Jack Russel Terrier, shot with an arrow in Fairdale, Kentucky. Sadly, she succumbed to her injuries despite the efforts to save her, and the person has not been found.
At about the same time, we offered a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the abandonment of a puppy behind a Target store in Hagerstown, Maryland. She was emaciated and infested with parasites, but thanks to the great care of the Humane Society of Washington County, she survived and is gaining weight steadily.
We also recently added $2,500 to the reward being offered by the Office of Law Enforcement of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the case of a pregnant dolphin shot to death and found on a beach at Waveland, Mississippi.
These rewards are not the only touches we have with the plight of individual animals abandoned, mistreated, or at risk. It isn’t well known, but our own Animal Care Centers experience the same kind of challenges that local groups face when people leave companion animals—like dogs, cats, and even birds—in need at their gates. A couple of Saturdays back, in 90-degree heat, South Florida Wildlife Center staff members discovered five kittens in a closed foam cooler left outside their doors. The kittens were in critical condition and badly dehydrated. I’m glad to report that these animals are doing well at the Center, in anticipation of a transfer to Broward County Animal Care and Adoption for adoption in a few days.
Our founders saw a special role for The HSUS when they joined together in 1954 to create a new organization. They wanted to focus on the big picture, the large scale threats to animals, and the prevention of systemic cruelty that went beyond what local organizations could easily take on. But they were also involved with local animal care and service organizations, and mindful of the ever-present need for investigation, prosecution, and vigilance in the defense of individual animals at risk of terrible cruelty and neglect. And thanks to you, and your support for all of our programs, we remain involved and committed in such cases.