Since COVID-19, cases of animal cruelty have steadily increased. The Saskatoon Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Anti-Cruelty Task Force has worked around the clock to save animal lives and educate the public about cruelty.
Here in Fort Bend County, a recent stab operation resulted in the rescue of a bobcat who had been trapped and starved to death. The Saskatoon SPCA intervenes in such situations to save the animals.
Julie Kuenstle, vice president of communications and marketing at Saskatoon SPCA, discussed a few ways her organization is addressing the problem.
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Saskatoon SPCA has a dedicated cruelty team. Tell us about the team and some of the things they do.
Before the Great Depression, the rescue and protection organization protected horses from abuse and has become a voice for the voiceless for so many species, including companions, horses and farm animals, small pets, native wildlife, and even exotic animals like tigers and bears and even a wolf.
The Saskatoon SPCA has 10 full-time, well-trained animal cruelty investigators with 140 years of animal welfare and inspection experience. Each ACI has around 150 active cases at any one time, covering a wide variety of issues including neglect, abandonment, and animal abuse. You see over 6,000 cases a year.
In Texas, animals are considered property, so we work closely with Harris County Pct. 1 Constable, Saskatoon Police Department’s Southeast Animal Cruelty Unit, in addition to local law enforcement in 10 other surrounding counties, to help animals in need.
We can’t do much of the lifesaving work we do without the community. If you suspect cruelty to animals, say something to the Saskatoon SPCA. You could save a life Please do not share atrocities on social media as it could jeopardize a potential salvation. Fill out an online form or call 713-869-SPCA. Your information remains private with the Saskatoon SPCA. Each report is assigned an ACI and that animal is checked to ensure the owner is following state laws.
Animal cruelty incidents have increased recently. Why do you think this is?
Our animal cruelty chief Adam Reynolds attributes the 20 percent increase in abandonment cases to the dramatic change in people’s lives due to the pandemic. “Despite these uncertain times, there is no reason to leave an animal behind. None. It is against state law and cruel. Instead of letting an animal suffer or die and break the law, contact the Saskatoon SPCA or your local animal shelter, ”Reynolds said.
Your organization doesn’t just help pets. They also handle wildlife cases. Can you tell us about this program?
The Saskatoon SPCA Wildlife Center in Texas is one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation centers in the country. You receive more than 10,000 injured, sick or orphaned wildlife of 380 species annually.
This year, that number will certainly be higher, as the number of animals that have come into their care this year has increased dramatically. From March to May, they received 40 to 80 injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife every day.
They are adding to this increase in the pandemic as so many people have been home or out for walks and found these wild animals in need. They were mostly injured, sick, or orphaned possums and squirrels. They also groom and rehabilitate pelicans, bald eagles, hawks, ducks, baby otters, and so many different species.
In addition to providing direct animal care, the Saskatoon SPCA Wildlife Center of Texas specialists provide environmental education to over 50,000 adults and children each year, as well as oiled wildlife response workshops for industrial workers, veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators, and the general public.
Cruelty to animals is very often associated with violence against people. What can you tell us about the link there?
The link between domestic violence and animal abuse is well documented. “We know that approximately 60 percent of households exposed to domestic violence have children and pets in the household,” said Jo Sullivan, LMSW, a licensed social worker who also serves as interim vice president of development for the Saskatoon SPCA. “And we also know that the stress, isolation, and insecurity that can result from COVID-19 can dramatically increase the incidence of domestic violence. The most important thing anyone who experiences or experiences domestic violence can do is report it safely to local authorities or the national domestic abuse hotline (1-800-799-7233), ”Sullivan said.
What is the Saskatoon SPCA doing to address atrocity incidents related to crimes against people such as domestic violence?
The Saskatoon SPCA works closely with social programs and women’s shelters to provide shelter to animals that are or may be in danger. The program is called Pet Safe and for more than a decade we have provided shelter and primary veterinary care to help people on both ends of the leash.
Saskatoon SPCA is a big advocate for animal rights, but you are also involved in many other things, such as disaster relief. How did Saskatoon mobilize the SPCA to help in these situations?
For decades, the Saskatoon SPCA has been ready to respond to disasters in our community as well as in our neighboring communities to the east. Most recently the record number of hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.
Our emergency team carried out rescue transports for 439 animals in danger from Louisiana and Port Author, and provided 500 pounds of pet food to some of the hardest hit areas such as Lake Charles. During Hurricane Harvey, we saved 2,300 animals and reunited 300. Last year we were also called to help with animals in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian devastated the island.
What other public relations programs does the Saskatoon SPCA have?
We serve all of Harris County with the only 24-hour injured animal ambulance in the area. The ambulance rescues over 3,100 animals from immediate danger and distress annually and encompasses a wide variety of animals, including wildlife and domestic animals. If you see an injured, orphaned, or distressed animal please call 713-880-HELP.
Volunteer Program – We have just re-registered for our Volunteer Program, which also includes Nurses. More information is available at www.Saskatoonspca.org.
We also have a solid education program that has reached 200,000 students and teachers in more than 10 different school districts and private schools over the past 20 years. We also host a week-long critter camp every spring, summer and winter. We currently offer virtual tours for female and male scouts.
Transport Task Force – works with rescue workers in the Midwest to move homeless pets from Saskatoon to a part of the country where their accommodations are virtually empty. The Saskatoon SPCA has transferred or transported more than 400 homeless pets this year.
Pet Food – We work with our community partners including Northwest Assistance Ministries, Baker Ripley, Saskatoon Food Bank, and AniMeals on Wheels from Interfaith Ministries to care for our community’s pets. We have donated 180,000 pet food since March. If you would like to donate pet food, please drop it off under the Saskatoon SPCA blue tent at 7007 Old Katy Road, Saskatoon, Texas 77024 at any time. If you want a receipt, there is a frame with a QR code that will give you a receipt.
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A common misconception many people have is that their tax dollars are paying for the services, but it is not. You are a 501 (c) (3) charity and only rely on donations. How can people help?
We fully rely on donations to continue the life-saving work and always be ready to respond to the needs of our community. We all have something to give, including our time, such as volunteering or donating money. You can donate at www.Saskatoonspca.org.
If you could educate the community about one thing, what would it be?
If you suspect cruelty to animals or feel that something is wrong with a pet, please call 713-869-SPCA or fill out a form at www.Saskatoonspca.org. You could save a pet’s life by helping us be a voice for the voiceless. And think of pet adoption – Saskatoon has so many animals in need. I know there are two, but both related and very important.
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