To The Editor:

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. It might seem that in our community, this isn’t an issue. It is.

Just last Wednesday, April 18, a city officer brought a brown tabby kitten with a seriously damaged leg to the Franklin County Humane Society (FCHS) shelter. The kitten had been shot with a pellet gun...

The day before, a terrified silky terrier was found abandoned in a carrier with no water on Highway 47 between St. Clair and Union, and an under-nourished, flea-ridden wiry-haired terrier ran in the doors of the Tractor Supply Store. Both were brought to the shelter. Also this month so far, a cairn terrier with an irreparably broken jaw shattered by a kick, a terrier thrown out of a moving vehicle and a cat with BBs embedded in her were all brought to the shelter. (Unfortunately the cairn terrier could not be saved, but the rest of these animals have been adopted or will soon be available for adoption.)

Animals have been found taped in boxes on the side of a road, in bags in the river, even tied in a bag hanging in a closet in an abandoned home and tied to a guardrail on Highway 100. Other animals come in wounded, burned, poisoned, starved, kicked, and more. Animals that have been “turned out” to fend for themselves almost always come to the shelter in sad shape — if they make it. These are but a few of the many, many animals that are harmed each year, and these are the lucky ones that a Good Samaritan brought to a shelter.

In Missouri, animal neglect and abuse are crimes. According to the Missouri attorney general, animal abuse encompasses a range of behaviors harmful to animals, from neglect to malicious killing. A person is guilty of animal abuse when a person purposely or intentionally causes injury or suffering to an animal, or purposely kills an animal in an unlawful manner. Intentional abuse is knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter or veterinary care or maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating, or killing an animal.

Animal neglect occurs when a person fails to provide adequate care or adequate control which results in substantial harm to the animal. “Adequate control” requires an owner to reasonably restrain or govern an animal so that it does not injure itself, another animal, a person or a property. If an animal is chained out and jumps a fence or falls down a hill and hangs itself, the owner may be in violation of adequate control laws. Animal abandonment is also an example of animal neglect.

Editor’s Note: Because of its length this letter will be continued in the Weekend Missourian.