When Shane Sullivan noticed mail piling up at the door of one of his properties in Illinois, it set off an alarm in his head. The tenants had not been paying rent, but that was most likely due to COVID-19 related struggles, and the rent moratorium gave them some much needed relief.
Since piled up mail usually means no one is home, Sullivan wanted to make sure everything was okay. He followed the correct protocol, contacting the tenants a few times and then finally posting a notice of entry before letting himself in a full 24 hours later. What he found was far worse than a bit of piled up mail.
The tenant's 4-year-old dog, a sweet red haired mutt named Sii, had been abandoned. There were signs that he had tried to survive, desperately consuming trash and anything else that would keep him alive. But Sii was dead.
Sign the petition if you want to see domestic animal relief as a part of the next U.S. COVID-19 stimulus package!
Sii's owner has been found and charged with animal cruelty. She will have to face the consequences of her actions. But that does not address the underlying cause of neglect, abandonment, and cruelty of this nature.
Sii had only been adopted back in May 2020 from a local rescue, mere months before he died. Like most shelters and rescues, this one has an extensive application process and plenty of systems in place to make sure adopters are and will continue to be suitable pet rescue parents. The likelihood that someone went through such a process with the intention of later willingly abandoning the pup is low -- unless they felt they had no other options.
There is so much shame and stigma about whether or not you are a "good" pet owner. If one doesn't feel like they are doing a perfect job, they are less likely to ask for help -- even though they are the ones that need help the most, and there's nothing wrong with that! Shame and fear of judgement leads people to accidentally neglect or purposefully abandon their pets, like in Sii's case.
That means that sweet Sii's horrific death is not an isolated incident. During times of crisis, animal abandonment and abuse numbers skyrocket. We saw this during the 2008 financial crisis, and we're seeing it now in the midst of a pandemic. And while caring for a pet is a deeply personal responsibility, some need help -- be it educational or financial.
Folks might not know that shelters have food banks where they can pick up nourishment for their animals -- in fact, the shelter that Sii was from had one. They may not be able to afford pet bills and don't know where they can turn for subsidized services. Funding and information campaigns are vital in keeping pets safely with their people in a time of crisis.
Sign the petition if you want COVID-19 relief to include a portion of funds for pet owners who need help caring for their furry family members, as well as state guidelines on how to run effective information campaigns for help with pet care during these trying times.