Monday, August 31, 2009

Ottawa Humane Society sees rise in ongoing neglect issues with owned animals

OTTAWA, Ont. (31 August, 2009) — The Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) is dealing with a rise in neglect cases, following the investigation of several pet owners who recently failed to seek veterinary care for sick, or injured pets, leaving them to suffer.

Since March, when new provincial animal cruelty legislation came into effect, OHS agents have been busy investigating complaint calls about animals with serious medical issues resulting from lack of veterinary care. In all cases, the animals' suffering has been so severe that euthanasia has been the only humane option.

Four charges have been laid against five individuals in the past four months under the OSPCA Act, all for permitting an animal to be in distress and failing to provide adequate standards of care to an animal. One of the cases involved a cat that had a bleeding eye for a period of three to four months, and the owner had not sought veterinary care. Another case involved a cat with an eye infection, wounds on its neck and severe matting.

Two of the cases were dog-related: one a 14-year-old Chihuahua-type dog that was emaciated and had uncontrollable bleeding for over a week, and a second, senior German shepherd found unable to walk or move, due to tumours on its shoulders and atrophied leg muscles. The dog's owner admitted to never taking the animal to a veterinarian in its life.

"The cases we've seen over the past few months have been disturbing to say the least," said OHS Inspector, Miriam Smith. "The levels of animal suffering have been severe, and the basic lack of care withheld has been shocking."

The OHS has opted to publicize the cases in an effort to educate the community about the importance of ensuring pets have ongoing, and lifelong, medical care. It’s an owner's responsibility to recognize signs of suffering and to provide care and relief to a pet. Failing to do so could result in charges for animal cruelty and neglect.

"Regular and ongoing veterinary care is absolutely necessary if you own an animal," said Smith. "If you notice something is wrong with your pet, take it to a vet sooner, rather than later. Doing nothing is not an option."

Especially as pets age, they need regular check-ups, as veterinarians may be able to recognize a health problem before it develops and becomes evident to the caregiver.

If veterinary care isn’t financially possible, or if an owner is simply unable to care for an ailing pet, the OHS urges owners to contact them to discuss surrendering their pet instead of allowing it to suffer without care.

Although legally mandated to enforce the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada and the Ontario SPCA Act, the OHS does not receive any government funding or funding from any animal welfare group to perform this essential work.

For media enquiries, contact:
Tara Jackson, Communications Manager
613-725-3166 ext. 261

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