A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series -- which focuses on the efforts of animal welfare units to investigate and rescue neglected, abused, and/or abandoned animals -- includes graphic images of animal cruelty (including some dead animals). The opening credits feature a "parental discretion" advisory. Some animals have to be euthanized, though the procedure itself isn't shown. Episodes always include positive examples of abused animals being cared for by agents, veterinarians, and compassionate citizens. Sensitive kids and adults may find some images disturbing.
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What's the story?
ANIMAL COPS works to raise awareness about the mistreatment of animals by profiling the people and agencies that are committed to saving them. Past seasons have followed the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) in Detroit, the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (HSPCA), and San Francisco's Animal Care and Control unit (ACC), with each episode (which typically includes several different cases) following investigators and rescue teams as they set out to find and save animals. Some of the animals have accidentally wandered into precarious situations; others have been neglected, abandoned, and/or physically abused. While some cases are heartwarming efforts to reunite lost pets with their owners, most of them, sadly, center on animals rescued from people and organizations that have failed to care for them -- or, worse, that have subjected them to vicious cruelty; for this reason the show includes many graphic incidents of abuse and neglect (up to and including images of dead animals). Episodes jump back and forth between the different cases to add suspense, but by the end of the hour, each is solved.
Is it any good?
Viewers who stick with the program are rewarded by seeing many of the animals on the road to recovery (many are even placed in happier homes) and justice served to their abusers. Plus, viewers learn about the rescued animals' medical conditions and possible treatments -- which will fascinate critter-minded kids (and adults!). Of course, viewers are also reminded that owning any animal is an immense responsibility -- pets and service animals need to be well cared for and shown a lot of compassion -- and that failing to meet that responsibility can lead to hefty fines and even jail time. Despite mostly positive outcomes, parents should watch the show with their kids, as children who are especially sensitive toward animals might find the series disturbing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the responsibilities of caring for animals and the consequences of neglecting them. Why would people let their animals suffer? What does it mean to put an animal "to sleep"? Have you ever witnessed a case of animal abuse? Who would you call in your community to report it? Who looks out for the animals in your area? Is there a shelter nearby where you might be able to volunteer? What kind of education does it take to become a veterinarian? In your house, is your pet considered a member of the family? How much responsibility is it to keep your pet healthy and happy?