Watch Tip: Signs of Starvation

Posted on March 13th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Weekly Watch Tip for week of Mar. 14:

Watch for protruding spines, hips, and ribs as winter coats begin to shed out. Do you see any dogs eating bark, moss, sticks, or dirt, or do you see these in feces? These are signs that a dog may be very hungry. Remember, you may be the only one who notices.

Starvation is a very common form of animal neglect

Isn’t it ironic that in an obese nation, in a nation where veterinarians say a common health risk for their pet patients is obesity, in a nation where you find plentiful food supplies in every gas station, that one of the most common forms of animal neglect is starvation? Animal control officers everywhere get frequently dispatched in response to calls from Good Samaritan neighbors to rescue a starving companion or domestic animal. Doesn’t it just boggle your mind?

Some families are financially struggling. Responsible families that can’t afford to feed their pets or livestock will make every effort to re-home them. The others will make no efforts and will bleat weak excuses to anyone who questions why their animals are so thin. Those animals are in trouble.

What can you do? If you see a problem, you can help those animals survive by taking action. If the situation is not urgent, talk to the family first, or leave them a Neighbor Note (download here). If the situation is urgent, call the authorities. Don’t give up if you don’t get a satisfactory response! Call and network in your community and outside of it to request help.

What is an urgent situation? Review this reference from Tufts University.

Remember that some thin animals are aged or may be recovering from an illness. Don’t automatically assume that what you see is starvation, or that the owners are neglectful. Always inquire politely and respectfully.

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