Animals are abandoned at any time of year, but winter can be a particularly hard time for them. In summer they can find shade and hopefully a water source. When temperature plummet in winter, it’s sometimes impossible for them to find shelter. Left to fend for themselves, many animals die. We, along with the ASPCA, consider animal abandonment a form of animal cruelty for which the perpetrators should be punished.
The ASPCA’s definition of animal abandonment is “when an owner or temporary caretaker leaves an animal in a public or private place, inside or outside, without intending to return for it and without making provisions for its continued care.”
Since reporting abandonment is not required, it’s not possible to determine the number of animals left on their own. What is known is the number of companion animals that enter U.S. shelters each year – between 6 and 8 million. The number includes animals found in the streets and those left in homes and apartments.
Many U.S. States have abandonment laws either as part of anti-cruelty laws or as a separate offense. Consequences vary from State to State and also depend on the condition of the animal, whether it is sick, injured or dead, in which case forensic veterinary work proves helpful.
Enforcement of abandonment laws is difficult as the animal usually has no ID tags or microchips that would identify the person(s) responsible.
If you are aware of a case of animal abandonment, you can help. Contact the police, animal control or any appropriate agency and give them any details you are aware of. Your identity will not be revealed.
Check the ASPCA’s Fight Cruelty Page for a list of contacts in each State. If you live outside the U.S., check for animal abandonment/cruelty laws and contact the appropriate agencies where you are located.