Last week Shelby County Commission members cast preliminary votes on an ordinance to establish minimum standards of care for pets. The ordinance would provide regulations for adequate food, shelter, and health-related treatment of domestic animals.

Regardless of your view on the law itself, one thing is certain: happier pets mean safer people.

When pet owners refuse to take proper care of their dog or cat, they break a trust with the animal. As a result, any breed can become defensive or frightened – wondering if and when it will get attention or have its needs addressed.

A neglected animal does not always behave violently, and violent animals have not always been neglected. But in general, dogs that face hunger, loneliness, uncomfortable detention or physical abuse tend to lash out on other people much more than dogs that receive compassion and attention from their owners.

In our office, we help clients who have been attacked by dogs or other animals. This problem happens all the time in Memphis, as you probably know. While it’s not unheard of for the violent dog to be trained as an attack dog, the attack often stems from inadequate care.

What can you do? If you have a pet or friends with pets, make sure to socialize them and give them good care. (Check out our article on how to socialize your dog if you want some pointers.) If you can’t do that because of time or other issues, you may want to consider giving them up to a pet adoption center so that they can find a good home (locate a nearby no-kill shelter).

You can also be vigilant in reporting dangerous situations. Animal abuse is horrible no matter what, and the longer it goes on the more dangerous the situation for both the pet and the people who interact with the pet. You can report cruelty cases to the Memphis Humane Society by calling 901-937-3910.

Remember, hurt animals can hurt people. Happy animals mean happier people and safer neighborhoods for everyone.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an animal attack, contact our personal injury attorneys to discuss your case at no charge.