The Face of Animal Abuse
Animal abuse has been a common practice in popular pet chains like PetSmart and Petco, where a variety of small pets such as guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, rabbits and, in some stores, baby chickens, are sold.
In a PetSmart investigation done by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), it was revealed that thousands of animals were stored in plastic bins and stacked up on shelves, rarely checked on. Many animals showed severe symptoms of illnesses, lived in their own feces and urine, and live animals were kept in the same enclosure as dead ones. Petco and a variety of other pet chains mimic the same abuse; however, it is heightened during holidays, especially Easter.
Easter is synonymous with bright colors, chicks, and bunny rabbits. Many parents, unaware of the difficulty in owning a rabbit or chick, end up purchasing these animals for their child, only for them to be neglected or become homeless.
For example, many chicks are dyed bright and vibrant colors in order to appeal to kids during Easter. The process of dying the chicks itself is controversial, as while the dye used is not harmful to the chicks, the process is stressful to them, according to the New York Times. Even though the dye itself is not going to kill the chicks, the neglect they face after they’re impulsively bought causes several issues.
Dan Anthony of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida stated, “Humane societies are overflowing with these animals after Easter every year,” when referencing chicks and rabbits. According to the American Humane, the majority of animals bought after Easter die a couple weeks later after children often break their bones and cause fatal injuries. Animals that do live long enough are quickly forgotten or dumped to animal control agencies, which often euthanize them as proper homes cannot be found for the vast influx of pets dumped.
A rescue organization in Toronto is urging families to consider the difficulty in taking care of rabbits, saying, “Usually summer is pretty bad. This is when the kids have lost interest, the baby rabbits that were bought are starting to mature… parents don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars to get them spayed and neutered, they’re ending up being stuck in a tiny cage, and that’s when they contact us.”
The situation has become infinitely worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down many shelters for months. People no longer have a place to abandon their rabbits, causing them to release the animals in frigid temperatures of Canadian winters where domestic bunnies are unable to survive.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted cats and dogs as well. According to the Washington Post, many shelters have seen the request to adopt dogs double, and the Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Arlington has found homes for 1,800 dogs more compared to the year before.
Mirah Horowitz, the executive director of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, stated, “Anyone who felt like, ‘I can’t adopt an animal because I’m at work all day’ is now finding they’re at home.”
Rescue organizations are finding it difficult to keep up with the demand; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has not been entirely good for these animals. Animal rescue operators are concerned about what would happen after the pandemic ended, when people would start going back to work and their regular routine. Since the majority of people got a dog over the pandemic due to activities being cancelled and an open schedule, a huge influx of abandoned animals might be seen once normality returns.
While animal abuse and neglect are a huge issue amplified by popular holidays, it is essential to realize how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the aftermath of impulsively buying these pets. So, what can be done to help?
Parents should never impulsively buy dyed chicks or rabbits for their kid as an Easter present, Instead, options like stuffed animals or dolls work just as well. Even though it might not have the same initial reaction of excitement, the majority of kids will forget about their pets later on, so it is the more ethical decision, as it would prevent any future animal abuse.
If you are set on adding a bunny or chick to your family, doing proper research about housing, diet, and medical needs is important. Many small animals can be expensive to care for, so if you don’t want to pay to get your rabbit spayed or neutered, it’s better to avoid getting a rabbit. Make sure to not purchase from popular pet chains either, since the animals are often sick and always inhumanely treated. Many local shelters will have small animals waiting for a new life, making it a much better option. Many shelters will also already have spayed or neutered animals up to date on shots.
Spreading awareness is just as important as not participating in animal neglect. The majority of people aren’t aware of the animal abuse behind the scenes, the issues with impulse buying during holidays, or how COVID-19 is heightening all these negative aspects. Spreading awareness could help prevent people from abandoning the pets they got over the pandemic once we start opening up, something that is just now right around the corner.