The Mission of the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse is to strengthen the safety net for animals in CNY, reducing euthanasia and abuse, with the ultimate goal of creating a community with no more homeless animals. We applaud local programs such as Syracuse Truce which is aimed at reducing the violence on our streets but, while addressing the serious problem of human violence, we also need to recognize the well-documented link between human violence and animal cruelty (National Link Coalition). We also realize that, often, there is financial inability to care for one’s animals, to obtain medical care (including spay/neuter), a lack of knowledge about animal care, and inhumane attitudes. These too are part of this problem. The Animal Alliance is working to address these issues locally.
Growing up with indifference toward animal suffering instills insensitivity toward the suffering of all creatures, including one’s fellow human beings. Many murderers began by torturing animals. Among other initiatives, the Animal Alliance and Cuse Pit Crew are conducting humane education classes with local children and providing training for neighborhood dogs, but this is not enough. Our community must work together to do more.
Dog fighting and backyard breeding, both of which are “cottage industries” in our city, are inextricably woven into the fabric of euthanasia, abuse, gangs, and the everyday violence in our neighborhoods. Backyard breeders have established a network throughout the area, indiscriminately breeding and selling pups as young as two weeks old to anybody with the money to buy. Many of these pups, if they survive puppyhood, are ultimately used in dog fighting, if not as fighters, then as bait to give fighting dogs a “taste” for blood.
Some of the pups, sold to people who lack the resources or knowledge to care for them, are lost or turned out into the streets at some point in their lives, and our City is euthanizing them. We want to stop this senseless killing of our community’s animals, whether that killing is by way of backyard breeding, dog fighting, or at the hands of our own community’s pound and “shelters” which are unable to handle the overwhelming influx of unwanted dogs streaming into their facilities.
Few people in this City, except those who have seen the shredded bait dogs and scarred survivors of dog fighting or have been out at midnight trapping and neutering our community’s abandoned cats, understand the depth of the cruelty and violence toward both dogs and cats in this city–rampant abuse, neglect, abandonment, and all the suffering that overpopulation brings these animals.
Our animal welfare system is “broken” and completely dysfunctional. Certain of those who receive taxpayer funding to help the animals are unresponsive and ineffectual. One example, which occurred last year prior to the creation of Officer Thompson’s position of SPD Animal Cruelty Investigator, is the pit bull dragged down Route 81. Although the dog suffered beyond imagining, this atrocity went entirely unpunished. Allegedly known to SPCA investigators, no charges were ever brought against the perpetrator, who got away scot free. The dog, on the other hand, paid with her life.
In addition, our pound and shelters are overwhelmed, and, while we applaud Syracuse Police Chief Fowler for the recent creation of an Animal Cruelty Investigator position on his team, budgetary constraints restricting the position to merely part-time mean Officer Thompson can’t possibly handle all the cases boiling over in this City. We’ve learned that, in just one day this week, she found three starving pit bulls, all in different areas of the City, and has made at least two arrests as of this point. We strongly recommend that Officer Becky Thompson’s position as SPD Animal Cruelty Investigator become full time with rigorous laws to assist in putting a stop to the rampant violence against animals. The monies need to be found to bring her to full-time capacity, and AAGS would like to bring ideas to the table to assist with that.
We believe those breeding animals in the City should be licensed, and that all animals should be spayed or neutered prior to leaving a shelter, pound, or other facility. Dog licensing, if more strenuously enforced, could bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into City coffers, making additional funds available, perhaps to spay and neuter more animals at affordable prices. An optimum law would allow only licensed and certified breeders to breed animals within the City, and would strongly encourage–perhaps through highly differentiated licensing fees–the spaying and neutering of all other dogs.
The proliferation of backyard breeders, dog fighting, abuse, and violence toward our animals is a “red flag” for the associated gangs, drugs, gambling, stabbings and shootings, and an attitude of cold disregard for human life. As long as back yard breeders continue to grow their “easy money businesses” by dealing in animals’ lives–and unthinking, unaware, or criminally-intentioned people continue to buy–the violence against our City’s animals will continue to grow, and alongside it, the cheapening of life, and violence against people within our community will only escalate.
In summary, a number of people, churches, and agencies within our community have formed a Task Force to reach out to those who choose violence as a way of life. We contend that, without also addressing the ways in which cruelty to animals plays into the human violence issue, we will never fully solve this problem. Along with our animal rescue, animal welfare partners, and so many people from the general public who have reached out to us, AAGS is asking for stronger laws with rigorous penalties for backyard breeders, dog fighters, and those who would treat local animals cruelly.
In addition to stronger legislation, we request that the Common Council immediately issue a proclamation denoting the City of Syracuse as a community with “zero tolerance” for dog fighting or other animal cruelty or neglect, along with the City’s strong support for spay-neuter.
Please join us in creating, from this meeting, an Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force such as that which was formed in Baltimore after a young pit bull was doused with gasoline and set on fire. This atrocity transformed that city into a model for the entire nation, and can do so for Syracuse as well.
Thank you to the Common Council members for your concern – and for having the courage to lance this festering wound for the sake of our animals and our community. Together we will make a difference! We can tell you with great confidence that the majority of the good people of the City of Syracuse care about animals and will support finding ways to successfully address this extremely important issue of animal cruelty. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”