Opinions, Tan Lili

Animal Neglect: Are YOU Guilty? – Tan Lili

Irresponsible pet ownership is one of the many forms of animal abuse. Read this to find out what constitutes neglect, and why it should never be taken lightly.  


Before the sudden and much welcomed downpour last Sunday, the past couple of months of insanely hot and dry weather in Singapore had been pretty unbearable. In fact, according to NEA, February 2014 was the country’s driest month since 1869 – that’s nearly 150 years! Now, if we had found the heat insufferable, I can’t even imagine how animals felt, especially strays as they depend on easy-to-find water sources to keep themselves adequately hydrated.

But do you know what’s equally upsetting? Pets that are neglected, unwittingly or not. Just last week, as Denise and I were walking back to our office, we saw an adorable long-haired dachshund whose leash was tied to a shrub outside a 7-Eleven store. Animal-lovin’ us immediately cooed over it for a few minutes before we realised something was amiss. Where was its owner? And, if the owner was inside 7-Eleven, why was she taking so long?

It didn’t escape our notice that the dog, unsheltered from the scorching sun, was very agitated; it didn’t seem to enjoy interacting with humans, and it kept its eyes locked on 7-Eleven. Another few minutes passed with no sign of the owner. As we tried petting the dog, it started barking. Suddenly a lady popped her head out from the entrance of 7-Eleven and rudely told us to refrain from petting it, then she went back into the store without bothering to hear us out. Enraged, Denise and I stormed in. What we saw next only served to make the situation even more deplorable: the lady was leaning against the counter and laughing and chatting away with the cashier, as if she had all the time in the world and that there wasn’t a clearly distraught dog stuck in the sweltering heat outside for who-knows-how-long. Anyway, we gave her a piece of our mind and left hoping she understood the severity of her actions.

Yes, what that lady did to her dog is an act of animal abuse. Even if I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she does love the dog, it doesn’t take away the fact that she had fully neglected its wellbeing when she left it out there to fend for itself.

Most people would immediately associate animal cruelty with violence, but neglect is also a common form of abuse in which the suffering of the animal is prolonged. Here’s what animal neglect constitutes:

  • Depriving the animal of basic care, like shelter, food and water
  • Chaining the animal or confining it in small cages or poor conditions for long periods of time
  • Animal hoarding – keeping far more animals than you can properly care for
  • Failure to provide veterinary care and treatment
  • Leaving an animal unattended in the car for hours
  • Abandoning an animal for whatever reason

Different animals have different needs and behaviours. Where dogs crave human attention, cats and rabbits are more aloof and independent in nature. But regardless of the type of pet you get, you need to be 100-percent committed to and responsible for its wellbeing the minute you decide to keep one. Taking care of a pet is never as easy as it seems. If you, for even one second, doubt you would be able to handle it, do the animal a huge favour and don’t become a pet owner.

Meanwhile, if you notice any sign of animal abuse, don’t be silent about it. We are the voices for the animals, so speak up for them. At the end of the day, the emotions we feel – blinding rage, guilt, indignation, gut-wrenching despair – from encountering instances of animal abuse is nothing compared to the suffering of the abused animals.

animal quote

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets

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