Editorial: Cowichan Valley needs education on animal abuse

Did nobody from the public, no friends, family or aquaintances, see the dog?

Bring on the public service announcements.

There are many wonderful pet owners in Cowichan. But over the last several months, and even years, we’ve had a disturbing number of animal cruelty incidents in the Cowichan Valley. And while it’s great to see the courts involved in some of these egregious cases, by then, in too many instances, it’s too late.

In the latest such case to hit the news Anderson Joe and Melissa Tooshley of Duncan are facing charges and, if convicted, possible jail time for the horrific state their dog was found in.

The treatment of this poor animal, who died as a result of its injuries, was deplorable. But, as has been pointed out by some folks who have commented on the article, it’s also disturbing that this dog was seized only after it was too late — where, some question, was the outcry from those who must have seen the animal as its condition deteriorated?

It’s a legitimate question. Did nobody from the public, no friends, family or acquaintances, see the dog? And if they did, why didn’t they report it? Confront the owners? Do something, in other words, besides turning a blind eye?

We do not know, of course, if someone tried and was unsuccessful, but the point is that too often people don’t want to get involved. This happens in cases where humans are being abused and neglected, so one can only imagine how much more prevalent it is in the case of pets.

But we can’t keep turning away. When we do, there will only be another Robert Carolan, also from Duncan, who is headed to four months in jail for beating his 16-week-old puppy to death.

Pets are incredibly vulnerable. They depend on their owners for everything from food and water to love. Those who are unable, or unwilling to provide those things should not take on the responsibility of a pet. And if friends, neighbours and relatives see that someone is failing to live up to their pet owner responsibilities, it then becomes their moral obligation to intervene. Standing by and doing nothing may seem like the easier choice, but will not be worth the guilt down the line when there are potentially serious consequences for both the animal and the owner.

We need to educate this Valley on what animal abuse looks like and what we need to do when we see it happening.

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