GREAT FALLS — April is National Animal Cruelty Awareness Month, and several days ago at the City of Great Falls Commission Meeting, Mayor Bob Kelly signed a proclamation recognizing this awareness in the Great Falls community, serving as a reminder for all of us to speak up for those without a voice.
The proclamation was brought to the table by the Great Falls Animal Shelter.
Great Falls Animal Shelter volunteer coordinator Laramie Smovir said, "Obviously, animal abuse is a huge topic for the community, not just for the animals, but for the human aspect of it."
According to the Humane Society of the U.S., an estimated 71% of domestic violence victims reported that their abuser also targeted pets, and one study showed that child abuse is strongly connected
"What we see is that statistically, people who abuse animals don't stop with animals," Smovir noted. "They then go on to abuse people, children, and so it becomes a much larger law enforcement community wide issue."
The Great Falls Animal Shelter aims for this proclamation to not only raise awareness of animal cruelty, but to also educate community members on ways they can decrease animal cruelty.
The following are likely signs of animal abuse:
- Tucked tail, flinches at human contact.
- Unexplained fractures or limping.
- Unprovoked aggression, whining, or whimpering.
- Overly submissive (rolling onto back, tail tucked, urinating)
- Suddenly avoiding any physical contact.
- Attempts to bite or scratch when petted.
The federal Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) was signed into law in 2019. The law is targeted primarily at people involved in "animal crushing" fetish videos and multi-state criminal rings involving animals. Under the law, a person can be changed with a federal felony if they’re found torturing animals. This includes crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling.
But the federal law doesn't apply in many situations, notably in cases of neglect, which are usually prosecuted via existing state laws. A person can be charged with a state misdemeanor when they’re found neglecting an animal by failing to provide basic needs like adequate food, water, and shelter. Click here to read more.
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