Pet Abandonment


Pet abandonment is a huge problem world wide. There are countless millions of loving, friendly, adoptable pets put to death every year, including dogs, cats, and small animals.

Countless pets are abandoned and put to death in every country, but some have a much larger problem than others.

It happens because people keep breeding more pets for profit, and other people reward them for this by paying them for these pets (instead of saving an innocent pet from death by adopting), and too many people abandon pets when they become an inconvenience.

People also often do not plan for how they would continue to look after the pet in the future if certain events happened in their lives, such as relationships breaking down.

People who buy kittens or puppies from pet shops, newspaper ads, or off the internet are often funding the cruelty of kitten and Puppy Farms. Here, the  cats and dogs used for breeding are cruelly abused their whole lives.

Some breeders who cannot sell their puppies are known to inhumanely kill unsold or imperfect puppies using methods such as drowning and even burying them alive!

In pet shops, what happens to animals behind the scenes, and to the animals that are not sold while they are still young enough to appeal to buyers? Find out on this page.

Image: Buying puppies from pet shops, the internet, newspaper ads or back yard breeders is often funding terrible cruelty to both breeding mothers and imperfect puppies. Puppies are also bred with terrible genetic medical conditions which cause them to suffer terribly. Source

People who unexpectedly end up with kittens or puppies because they do not spay / neuter their cat or dog also add to the death toll at shelters and pounds, as do breeders who abandon unsold / imperfect puppies.

Many people who buy kittens or puppies later decide the cat or dog is an inconvenience and get rid of it. This adds yet more innocent cats and dogs to the huge numbers already put to death in pounds and shelters every year.

Even if people take their pets to a rescue with a non-destruction/no kill policy, that means they are taking life saving rescue spaces away from pets on death row at pounds or shelters who could have had their lives saved by them.

Of course there are always cases of genuine need, for example, somebody fleeing from a domestic violence situation with their pet, that cannot find accommodation that allows pets, or a pet owner with no family who dies. Those are the kind of emergency situations rescues were created for.

If most people adopted dogs instead of buying them, hardly anyone would breed dogs because the demand wouldn’t be there. Eventually, no innocent, adoptable dogs would die.

Nobody wants to admit responsibility and wants to pass the blame. The reality is that everyone who buys, breeds or abandons dogs while there are so many being put to death, has to take responsibility.

Image: Every country has a pet abandonment problem, with some worse than others. Image shows statistics for pet abandonment in Singapore and a few main reasons why owners choose to abandon their pets. Source

Pet Abandonment

From Visually.


"Pets are family. Family who depend on you and suffer if you abandon them. If you wouldn’t abandon a child, you shouldn’t abandon a pet."

Pet Abandonment: Everything Is Against Them

From the moment animals are abandoned and end up at the pound, the odds of getting out alive are stacked against them. The majority will have their lives forcefully ended feeling terrified, alone and unloved.

From arrival, the clock starts ticking, as dogs and cats only have a limited amount of time for people to either claim them, or for them to be found a rescue space. This can be with an animal rescue organisation, or sometimes they will be allowed to be placed with a fosterer who can prove they have “rescue back up” (RBU). This means a rescue organisation will take responsibility for the dog, and that the fosterer is considered to be providing a rescue space on behalf of that rescue organisation. Animals that the pounds deem unsuitable to re-home, because of reasons such as illness, injury or aggression, are normally not even given a chance of rescue.

Image: Scared and depressed dog Perriwinkle at a rescue shelter. Because she is black and of bull terrier type, her chances of rescue were already extremely low. Being withdrawn and defeated made her chances even left, but thanks to a volunteer, she was miraculously found a life saving rescue space. Source

The law states that in the UK, dogs and cats should not be put to death until they have been at the pound for seven days. In the US it can be just 48 hours. The animals are seldom claimed by their owners, so their only chance of getting out alive are for volunteers to find rescue spaces for them in time, and for enough volunteers to be found to transport them to the rescue space in time, which could be hundreds of miles away.

Volunteers work tirelessly appealing for rescue spaces for these dogs and cats before they are put to death when their time runs out at the pound. The volunteers make appeals for rescue spaces on social media website pages such Facebook.

Animals are very lucky if a rescue space is found for them, as most rescues are full to bursting point most of the time. Even if an animal is lucky enough to find a rescue space, it is normally hundreds of miles away from the pound the animal is in.

Volunteers then have to put out appeals to find people to voluntarily transport the animals. A lot of people can be needed to transport just one dog to their life saving rescue place, each doing part of the long journey each. It can be very hard to find volunteers to do this. If it cannot be done, the dog will die at the pound.

Appeals for people to transport animals are made on the pages of social media websites, such as these on Facebook:

The Animal Team – Transport Volunteer Network

Transport Volunteer Network For Animals In Need

Dog & Cat Transport Volunteers UK

UK Foster & Transport Volunteers Directory

As a final kick in the teeth for the animals that miraculously do make it safely to rescues, not all rescues have a “no kill” or non-destruction policy, meaning their lives are still in danger if they do not get re-homed quickly or are deemed unsuitable for re-homing by the rescue.

Image Source

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Pet Abandonment: Statistics

Pet abandonment statistics world wide are thought to be around six hundred million every year and many countries have extremely cruel animal overpopulation controls.

Around 3.5 million dogs and 3.4 million cats are abandoned every year in the USA alone. Of these animals, 1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats are put to death. The majority of these animals are suitable for adoption.

In the UK the number of dogs abandoned is estimated to be as high as 130,000 a year, which has hit an eleven year high. Approximately one adoptable, healthy dog or puppy every hour, (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) is put to death in the UK due to not finding a home.

Despite these shocking statistics, people continue to encourage breeding by buying puppies from breeders and pet shops instead of adopting. The number of dogs abandoned over Christmas was the highest ever.

There is also a huge problem with cat abandonment and abandonment of rabbits and ferrets. Other small animals are also victims but the abandonment of these pets is more easily hidden.

Every country puts thousands of abandoned animals to death every year, but some put millions to death.

Image: Shelter statistics from the ASPCA and other on pet abandonment. Source

Pet Abandonment: Breeds Worse Affected

A large portion of the dogs abandoned in the UK are Staffordshire Bull Terrier types, which are the most over-bred breed in the country. Staffies are very loving, affectionate, loyal and tolerant pets who are particularly good with children.

Because of so many irresponsible people breeding them in an attempt to make money, six out of a litter of 10 Staffie puppies won’t live to their fourth birthday. This is because some of the puppies do not get sold, so are killed by the breeder or are taken to the pound. It is also  because the kind of people who buy the remaining puppies so often give them up instead of making the life time commitment required, no matter what life throws at them.

This results in around two out of three dogs in UK killing pounds and shelters (council, municipal pounds / shelters) being Staffordshire Bull Terriers. High numbers of these innocent dogs – which are perfectly adoptable – are then put to death every single day solely because there are not enough responsible, compassionate people adopting dogs. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are also the most abused breed in the UK.

In the US, the numbers are even worse with Pit Bull Terrier types, millions of which are put to death every year despite making loving, affectionate, loyal and tolerant pets. For further information about such breeds, please see the So Called Dangerous Dogs & Other Overlooked Shelter Pets page.

Image: Just a tiny portion of the huge number of dogs due to be put to death every single day just in the US. People appeal on the web for rescues and foresters to save them from the pounds and shelters, but sadly the majority of dogs that need saved every day are put to death due to there being far too many dogs for the number of rescue spaces available. These means the that most of these dogs will now have been put to death.


Pit Bull Terrier types are banned in the UK and put to death because of breed specific legislation. This happens even when they are innocent, loving, non-aggressive pets, which the majority of them are.

BSL was brought in to reduce the number of dog attacks in the UK, but since it was introduced, the number of dog attacks have tripled.

Image: Pitbulls, the most killed breed and the most bred in USA. Source

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Pet Abandonment: Why Does This Situation Exist?

Why does the situation exist that so many innocent, healthy, adoptable pets are put to death?

It is because:

  • There is an extremely high rate of pet abandonment.
  • Before getting a pet, people do not make plans for how they will continue to care for the pet in events such as relationship break ups, loss of employment, etc. This results in pet abandonment.
  • There are nowhere near enough places at shelters that do not kill the animals to make much needed room (‘No Kill’ shelters).

Yet people continue to buy newly bred pets, which encourages breeding, instead of saving innocent rehomable shelter pets from being put to death.

These animals are desperate for someone to love, but sadly, too many of them face horrifically cruel deaths, or at least dying alone, unloved and unwanted. You can find out more about the inhumane deaths many face on the cruel animal overpopulation controls page.

Image: Healthy, friendly, adoptable pets are put to death because too many animals are being bred and bought, instead of pets being adopted. Source

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Pet Abandonment: The Lure Of Pet Shop, Online, And Back Yard Breeder Puppies

Unfortunately, many people do not realise that by buying newly born puppies from pet-shops (who are nearly always supplied by incredibly cruel puppy farms, where the breeding dogs are abused terribly until they die or are killed), and internet sellers/back yard breeders, etc, they are funding the cruelty of puppy farms. They are also encouraging irresponsible breeding and adding to the problem of over-population and innocent dogs being put to death in pounds,  instead of saving their lives by choosing them.

Image: Breeding dogs are prisoners for profit. Puppy farms and back yard breeders often neglect the breeding dogs, using them up for what they can get out of them and not spending any money on veterinary treatment for them, then killing them or letting them die in agony. Source

People often feel sorry for pet shop puppies and feel as if they are rescuing them by buying them. What they are actually doing is funding the cruel puppy mill industry so it can continue to abuse and kill animals while making huge amounts of money.

Image: These breeders do not care about the welfare of the animals, only about profit.  Source

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The Cruelty Pet Shops Cause

Apart from selling puppies and kittens supplied by cruel kitten and puppy farms, there are other ways pet shops cause cruelty and suffering to animals.

In pet shops, what happens to the animals that are not sold while they are still young enough to appeal to buyers? In many pet shops they are sadly killed and disposed of, or abandoned. Pet shops have been known to cause enormous amounts of animal suffering to the pets they sell, all unseen by the public. For more information, see here.

There is also cruelty involved in the breeders and suppliers who supply the pet shops. If the animals they breed do not turn out perfect enough for the pet shops, they are often abandoned, or killed by drowning, asphyxiation, beating, being frozen alive, or other methods. Sometimes injured, deformed and sick animals are just left to languish and die. The full horror can be found here.

If you want to stop this cruelty, only shop at pet stores who do not stock or sell any live animals.

Image: Contrary to their image, pet stores and their supply chains cause an immense amount of cruelty and suffering to animals.

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How Does Abandonment Affect Pets?

Pets who are abandoned are confused and frightened. All they want is their guardian to return to them and make them feel safe, and for a long time, they keep hoping that will happen. Like a child, a pet depends on its guardian to make it feel safe and secure.

Many dogs are terrified at the pound, shelter, or rescue. They can become withdrawn or aggressive because of fear. Some cry all the time. Those who don’t cope very well are at much higher risk of being put to death.

Image: Sighthound Cara is so frightened in Irish shelter than she is too scared to look anywhere except the wall. Image

If abandoned and end up at a local authority dog or cat pound, the pet has a very short amount of time to find a very rare and much sought after rescue space. For this to happen, there needs to be a pound puller volunteer going into the pound or shelter, getting the pets picture and details, and searching frantically for a rescue space at a no kill rescue for them, before their time is up and they are put to death.

Most pounds and shelters do not have volunteer pound pullers going to them, so never have a chance. For those lucky enough to find a life saving rescue space, pets such as dogs and cats may be so traumatised by being abandoned that they find it extremely hard to trust again. They can often suffer from separation anxiety and depression type symptoms. Many dogs find the kennel environment of rescues and shelters very frightening and stressful. This affects their chances of finding a home.

Pets who are abandoned can often be very traumatised by the experience and most certainly suffer. Thankfully, loving homes – for the ones lucky enough to get them – often eventually restore their faith and trust in humans. Foster homes are also hugely valuable to help such pets. Find out how you can be a fosterer, here.

Sadly though, many are put to death in pounds and shelters feeling frightened, alone, unloved and unwanted.

Image: Frightened shelter dog, Roxy, who was so frightened she constantly cowered and trembled and was too scared to go for walks. Because she is black and a pit bull, her chances of being rescued and adopted were already extremely low. Over 200 pit bulls are put to death every single day in Roxy’s county, Los Angeles. Roxy was lucky and was adopted. Source

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Is It Euthanisia, Or Is It Killing?

Shelters and pounds that put millions of healthy, adoptable animals to death every year across the world often use the word “euthanisation” for what they do.

noun [mass noun]
the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.

The majority of animals pounds KILL are healthy, non-aggressive, re-homable, adoptable animals every day because there are not enough people adopting, sponsoring or fostering them, and too many abandoning dogs and buying and breeding new puppies. This is extremely painful for the brave pound puller volunteers who try to help the dogs by trying to find rescue spaces to save their lives, and all the volunteers involved in animal rescue. Rescue spaces are rare and are only made available if people adopt pets or foster them instead of buying puppies.

Image: Life saving rescue spaces are only made available by people adopting and fostering pets. Source


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Pet Abandonment: What Is The Answer?

To bring pet abandonment under control, every animal there is an overpopulation problem with should, by law, be neutered, micro-chipped and legally registered to an owner.

Any exceptions, such as breeders wishing to keep certain breeds alive, should be closely monitored so
that any breeding done is done correctly and only when it will not be to the detriment of adoptable dogs. The law should be carefully policed, and there should be severe consequences of failing to adhere to it. Black market breeding should be especially severely punished.

A system similar to car ownership is an example. Surely dogs, cats and other pets there is a problem with pet abandonment with are more important than cars, yet car ownership is much more tightly policed.

However, animals are so far down the list of political priorities that such a solution is unlikely. Having said that, big changes have been made just by the public using letter and email campaigns and petitions.

People who care about animals and want to prevent pet abandonment and innocent animals being put to death would gladly do all this without a law forcing them. However, getting the message through to everybody, and getting them to understand and care about the importance of it is very difficult.

It is left to people who really care about animals to raise awareness and get the message through to people that if they always neutered their animals, stopped buying puppies and kittens from pet shops and irresponsible ‘back yard’ breeders, and adopted animals instead, then people would stop breeding them as they could not sell them.

So much needless animal suffering and death would then stop and so many abandoned animals would have their lives saved.

Image: Pet abandonment can often be because of pets breeding and producing unwanted litters as a result of their owners not doing the responsible thing and getting them spayed or neutered. Abandoned pets that are not spayed or neutered re-produce at an alarming rate.


How Do I Know Who Is A Responsible Breeder?

A responsible breeder will only ever breed AFTER they have secured definite homes for the babies. The babies will not be conceived before this.

They will breed not for profit, but for the betterment of the breed, checking that genetic defects will not be passed down, as such defects can cause owners much expense and heartbreak as they watch their pets go through pain and suffering.

To ensure this, they will have had the breeding parents health checked thoroughly and investigated their family histories, which they should be pleased to show proof of.

They will not part the babies from the mother too early and they will get the babies vaccinated. These reputable breeders never have to advertise puppies or kittens in newspapers, magazines, on pet shop noticeboards, or anywhere else.

For a full list of things to look out for, see the Bad Breeders page.

Buying from a reputable breeder is better than buying from a bad breeder or pet shop, but sadly it is still denying an innocent shelter dog or cat the chance of being loved and saved from death.

The only thing you can do to stop innocent victims of pet abandonment being put to death in their millions is adopt a shelter pet and not support breeding.

Every puppy and kitten bred and bought condemns innocent shelter animals to death. Please do not be responsible for issuing any death warrants.

Image: Such a typical story of the novelty wearing off and the dog becoming an inconvenience. Source

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An Animal Pound Manager’s Point Of View On Pet Abandonment

Below are the words of a pound manager about pet abandonment:

“As a pound manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all…a view from the inside.

First off, all of you breeders/sellers should work in the back of an animal centre for just one day. maybe if you saw the life drain from sad, lost, confused, frightened eyes, you wouldn’t breed and sell to people you don’t even know.

That puppy you just sold will most likely end up in a pound when it’s not a cute little puppy anymore. There is about a 90% chance that a dog will never walk out of the pound it will be dumped at, purebred or not. About 50% of the dogs that come into my pound are purebred.

They always tell me “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her – we know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good dog”. The odds are, your pet won’t get adopted, and how stressful do you think being abandoned by your family in a pound is?

Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the pound isn’t full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies.

Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking and crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. Your dog will be depressed and will constantly cry for the family that abandoned it.

If your pet is very lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don’t, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose.

If your dog is big, black, or any of the ‘bully’ breeds (Pit Bull, Staffie, Rottie, Mastiff, etc), it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the door of the pound. Those dogs just don’t get adopted, no matter how sweet or well behaved they are.

If the shelter isn’t full, your dog is desirable enough, and isn’t killed for getting sniffles, it may be kept a little longer than 72 hours. Even the sweetest dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression.

If your pet miraculously makes it over all those hurdles, the chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters don’t have the funds to pay for treatment.

For those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, good natured, scared animal being “put-down”: First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash.

They always think they are going for a walk, happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room”, Every one of them freaks and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death, or they can feel the sad and frightened souls that are left in there. It’s strange, but it happens with every single one of them.

Your frightened pet will be restrained – held down. A vein in the front leg will be found and a lethal dose of the “pink stuff” injected. Hopefully your pet doesn’t panic and jerk.

Image: Pets are terrified when the time comes to be killed to make room in the shelter. Source 

I’ve seen needles tear out of legs and been covered with the resulting blood, and deafened by the yelps and screams of the animal. Instead of ‘going to sleep’, sometimes they spasm, gasp for air and defecate on themselves as they die.

When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed, waiting to be picked up like garbage.

Between around 100 thousand and 200 thousand animals die every year in UK pounds (between 4 & 5 million every year in the US). Most of them are good natured, loving animals. Only you can stop it happening.Rescues are always full, and there are far more animals coming in everyday than there are homes on offer.


I just hope I changed one persons mind about breeding their dog,  taking their loving pet to a pound, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my pound and say “I saw this and it made me want to adopt”. That would make it worth it.”

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Pet Abandonment Associated With Dog Fighting

Dogs want to please their owners, so dogs that bad, abusive owners train for the extremely cruel activity of dog fighting think they are behaving in the correct way, because it pleases their owners.

Their owners are not so loyal. If their dog is not good at fighting, it is either punished in horrific ways, tortured to death, or discarded when heavily injured, to die.

Some of these dogs are found before they die and rescues help rehabilitate them.

This is not the only pet abandonment associated with dog fighting: Bait animals which survive are discarded when considered no longer of use. Bait animals are dogs, or other animals, thrown in with fighting dogs for them to practice ripping apart to please their owners. If they survive for a rescue to find and help them, they are traumatised and terrified due to their treatment.

Bait animals are are obtained from free to good home adverts, adverts of animals being sold cheaply, pounds and rescues, they are peoples stolen pets, and strays off the street.

Please see the Dog Fighting page for more information on dog fighting.

Image: Rescued bait dogs suffering with horrific injuries. Source


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Pet Abandonment Associated With Greyhound Racing

A huge amount of pet abandonment comes from the Greyhound racing industry. Every year, around 10,000 greyhounds are retired from greyhound racing due to them no longer earning money or not making the grade in the first place. Only around 2000 of those are adopted. To find out the fate of the other 8000, see the Abuse Of Greyhound Dogs In Greyhound Racing page.

Those Greyhounds make it in to rescue in various ways. Some are abandoned to fend for themselves and taken to the rescue or shelter by a kind member of the public.

Some have their ears completely sliced off, without any painkillers or anaesthetic, and then are abandoned, left to die slowly and painfully from the resulting infection. Some of these poor Greyhounds are found in time, taken to rescues and treated, although many are not so lucky.

A small number of greyhound trainers and owners take their dogs to the rescue to be re-homed once they are retired from racing. Sadly, the majority get rid of them in other, cruel and violent, ways.

Image: Greyhounds are killed or abandoned en mass in the greyhound industry.

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Pet Abandonment In Other Countries

Pet abandonment is a problem all over the world. Dogs abandoned on the street are rarely neutered and so multiply in to large numbers. Many countries have extremely cruel and barbaric methods of dealing with this. To learn about these methods, see the Cruel Animal Overpopulation Controls page.

Different countries prefer different ways of putting unadopted abandoned pets to death. Some of the methods used cause unimaginable pain and terror.

Practices include causing pets a prolonged and painful death by poisoning them or starving them to death (e.g. Romania, Bulgaria), burning them alive e.g. Ukraine), beating them to death (e.g. Mexico), electrocuting them (e.g. Mexico), gassing them (e.g. US), using the heart stick method (e.g. US), and giving them a lethal injection (e.g UK).

There is a notable problem with Spanish hunters abandoning their hunting dogs, Galgos, at the end of the hunting season. You can learn more about that here.

Image: Starving abandoned Spanish hunting dog at the end of the hunting season.  Source

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Common Reasons For Abandonment

People sometimes wrongly believe that pets who end up in animal shelters must have problems. This is incorrect. The vast majority of the time, pets are there because of their OWNERS problematic personal circumstances.

Common reasons for pet abandonment:

  • Owner finds dog too much hard work and cannot be bothered to train it properly;
  • Irresponsible people do not neuter pets which results in unwanted litters;
  • Owner can no longer afford pet and made no contingency plan;
  • Owners now have to be out at work all day which is unfair on the pet;
  • Owners relationship breaks up;
  • Irresponsible breeders breed, attempting to make money when it is well known that there are not enough homes for existing pets;
  • Owner has a baby so doesn’t want a dog anymore;
  • Owner moves to property that doesn’t allow pets;
  • Owner has lost interest in pet;
  • Owner becomes ill or immobile and unable to care for pet;
  • Owner passes away;
  • Owner gets evicted from home;
  • Owner does not want dog when it is old;
  • Owner does not want dog when it develops medical care requirements.

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What Can We Do To Help?

To help, we can spread awareness of the tragic pet abandonment situation and its heart breaking consequences to as many people as possible. Please share the information on this site, which will hopefully encourage people to:

Image: Everyone can do something to help animals. They need us. Source


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Other Ways You can Help Stop Animal Cruelty And Suffering

On this site there are many varied ways you can help stop animal cruelty, and there are ways  that will suit everyone, no matter what your personality. Have a look and see what ways would most suit you.

If you would like to learn more about why we so urgently need to help stop animal suffering, please have a look at the Types Of Animal Cruelty section of this site. It will allow you to broaden your knowledge of many different types of animal abuse that happens in the world.

Help animals further by sharing the ways to stop animal cruelty you learn with other people and on social media. Doing this could mean more people help stop the cruelty, and therefore you are responsible for more animals being saved from suffering.

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