Jan 12, 2015 - Animal Welfare    6 Comments

Getting Help for Pet Owners Can Be the Most Humane Place to Start

Some unusual language and questions popped up in a recent article regarding the seizure of 71 dogs:

  • “Often when people get into trouble, animals get into trouble”
  • According to an obituary, Shirley Aguiar’s mother died in 2013, and, according to a customer of the couple, Ed Aguiar lost his job not long before that. But without hearing from the Aguiars directly, it’s impossible to say whether either of these events might have led to mistreatment of their dogs.
  • “I walked in and I said, ‘Shirley?'” Diane said. “It was so dirty, I didn’t even recognize her. It was like something happened and I don’t know if it was just a lack of money, but it was just unkempt.”
  • She said the puppy for the other customer was “covered in poo” and had to be washed. The difference between her two experiences with Aguiar, Diane said, was “so shocking.”


Oftentimes in animal seizures, the tone is sensationalist, focusing almost entirely on the treatment and conditions of the animals, painting the animal owner as some kind of heartless monster. Given the kind of clicks you can generate through heartbreak and outrage, it is easy to understand why so many news sources rely on that angle.

But the truth is often a lot more complicated. While there are people in the world who are simply cruel or careless toward animals, so often when you dig deeper into a case of animal abuse you find human beings who are in way over their heads: economic disaster, forced loss of or change in property, the onset of physical or mental illness, becoming caretakers to other family members, etc., etc.

When somebody who has always taken good care of their animals starts to slip up, it is easy to point fingers, to call them evil or greedy or incompetent. Taking the time to find out what has gone wrong, offering help and realistic solutions, and holding an intervention if necessary is more difficult, but can be the key to keeping animals happy, healthy, and in homes with the people they have bonded with.

It is so true that “when people get into trouble, animals get into trouble.” If somebody with a history of being a great caretaker for their animals is in trouble and you are concerned for their pets, seeing if you can get them help (as counter-intuitive as this may seem) should be the first step.

In some cases, getting help for the owners can be the most humane place to start.


  • fearnot

    so true “sheltering in place” should be the very first thing that happens instead of taking the pets ( hard on the owners) and selling them ( hard on the pets)

  • DC

    So timely. A post today about a horse in NY stated that the owner died a month ago. The photos show a stallion with a tangled mane . The posts confirm he has shelter but doesn’t go inside. The rescuer even states that she is not trained in horse care. And yet the The comments recommend going after the 4 licensed veterinarians the owners’ wife uses to care for him.

  • Linda Hart

    This article is so very true. We talk about ‘humane’ societies, but are they really humane anymore? The first thing most humane societies do is seize the animals from the home (after they call the media of course to get press i.e. donations!) and sell them at their shelters. Why can’t they be HUMANE to all involved, and try to provide the owner with help to resolve issues that may have caused a good home to go bad. Why can’t they truly care for the PEOPLE involved, as well as the terrified animals being taken away from their home by strangers. I bet you if they actually TRIED being humane in a truly humane way for ALL involved it would be much more effective. Find out why a good home went bad or help educate if just ignorance of care/needs, find help to clean, feed or house the animals, or help to contact friends of the owner willing to help out. Do it without the media, or beating of chests while shouting “WE SAVED, NOW WE SELL!”. They should try it. It would go a lot further to truly helping animals, and the owners. Such a concept.

  • Susan Dodge

    I’ve been following this particular case and am happy to see it caught the attention of NAIA. The newspaper article quoted here was the first piece I saw on the case that showed any concern or compassion for the humans involved.

  • Overleas

    Least us not forget the Troyer fight in Colorado elizabeth@custercountygov.com Please send a supporting letter to the zoning commission for the Troyers approval for his planned kennel. Being Amish they do not have the resources to generate public support. Let us join and send in letters and emails by the thousands in support of this family to have and own property of their choosing… Gee It think that is in the Constitution somewhere… Your support is appreciated.. Send at least one email a week and ask your fiends and neighbors to do the same. Thank you for your support, We must stand together..

  • It’s true that it’s important to be knowledgeable about every situation and always and get the perspective from both sides.