For every heartwarming story you hear about people rescuing animals from terrible situations and nursing them back to health, it sometimes seems like there are dozens more about people taking advantage of vulnerable animals and mistreating them. The latest sad story is one of a beaten seal on the shores of the Caspian Sea, who was left unconscious and thrown back into the ocean.
A Beaten Seal for a Photo Op
Images have circulated online of a group of men attacking a seal with sticks and boulders as it swam close to shore at a beach in the village of Kuryk, on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea.
The brutal attack continued for several minutes until the animal was unconscious, and was supposedly done so that it would cooperate with some children who wanted photos with it.
The witness said that once they were finished with the animal, they threw its motionless body back into the sea. No one knows if the animal survived.
This incident happened just days after another baby seal was pelted with stones and rocks by tourists in the city of Aktau, just 43 miles from Kuryk.
Both attacks have been shared through various news outlets, inciting rage from the public and disapproval from authorities in Kazakhstan.
Saken Dildakhmet, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources described the way the people in the video acted as “outrageous and wild”, and is asking the public to respect nature.
“Such an attitude can cause a great damage to the fauna of the Caspian Sea and adversely affect the behaviour of these animals who may become aggressive and attack people” .
According to local environment authorities, seals are naturally curious animals that will often approach humans, and they should be admired not harmed. Unfortunately, there have been some reports of seals biting swimmers in the area who have had to go to the hospital to receive a rabies shot, which may be the impetus behind the recent seal attacks .
What You can do to Help Stop Animal Abuse
Preventing animal cruelty is not just the job of lawmakers and activist groups- it takes all of us to stand up and speak out when we see it happening. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to discern if what you are seeing is animal cruelty. The following are types of abuse to look out for:
Neglect. This is the failure to provide basic needs for an animal, and is the most common form of abuse. Neglect could include hoarding, lack of shelter or veterinary care, or tethering and abandonment, among others.
Direct abuse. This is much more obvious, and much more traumatizing to witness. Direct abuse is beating or physically attacking an animal, and should be reported right away, since violence toward animals often signifies a larger pattern of violence that can include people as well .
If you witness animal abuse, the best thing you can do is contact your local animal control agency right away. If you are unfamiliar with the organizations in your area, you can simply dial 9-1-1. If there are no proper animal welfare agencies in your area and the local law enforcement is not equipped to handle animal abuse cases, you can also contact the Humane Society of the United States for help.
When you call, it is important to give them as much detail as possible, and include dates, times, specific details, footage and photographs if you have them. As mentioned, neglect can often be difficult to spot. Here are some warning signs that something might be wrong:
Hoarding animals, is when someone is housing far more animals than they can properly care for. If you think this may be happening, you should contact your local animal welfare authorities right away.
Untreated wounds are an important warning sign that an animal is being neglected, and not receiving proper veterinary care. Emaciation, scabs, and hair loss can also be signs of untreated illness or disease. If you see this, you should let the owner know of the condition if possible, and as always alert authorities as quickly as possible.
Inadequate shelter, particularly during times of extreme hot or cold weather, can be deadly for an animal. If you see an animal in these conditions, be sure to document it right away by taking photos or video, and alert authorities as quickly as possible, since conditions can worsen quickly.
The same goes for animals left in cars in the heat. In this case, time is crucial because animals can overheat in a matter of minutes depending on the conditions.
Chained animals can experience significant suffering, especially if they are left like that continuously. Again, if you see this happening, try to get some footage and alert the authorities.
If you witness physical abuse, such as someone beating an animal, the best thing you can do is report it immediately to the authorities. If you choose to get involved, it is important that you do so very carefully and avoid involving yourself physically, since not only could this compromise your own safety, but it could compromise the investigation into an animal abuse case.
Finally, if you are witness to or become aware of organized cruelty, such as dog fighting, you should report it to the local authorities as well as the Humane Society of the United States right away. This activity is illegal across the entire country and is often linked to other criminal activity .
Together Against Animal Abuse
Animal cruelty is shocking, senseless, and, for most of us, impossible to understand. The sad truth is that this kind of behaviour happens every day around the world. It is up to all of us to be vigilant and look out for animals who are more vulnerable to abuse, and to report instances of cruelty as soon as we see them.