Dog Articles - I Suspect Animal Abuse. What Do I Do?

I Suspect Animal Abuse. What Do I Do?

It is extremely difficult for animal lovers to understand why some people don’t have compassion regarding the wellbeing of animals, but nonetheless, animal abuse is an all-too common occurrence. So, what does one do when one witnesses or suspects animal abuse? The short answer is, REPORT IT!

According to the American Humane Association “A survey of pet-owning families with substantiated child abuse and neglect found that animals were abused in 88 percent of homes where child physical abuse was present.  A study of women seeking shelter at a safe house showed that 71 percent of those having pets affirmed that their partner had threatened, hurt or killed their companion animals.” Many feel that a neighbor abusing an animal is none of their business. The bottom line is, where there is animal abuse, there are often other forms of abuse too. Reporting instances of animal abuse might just result in saving a human life.  

Know the Laws
Being aware of local laws regarding animal cruelty can help you spot abusive situations. Your local animal control or humane society can provide you with literature and education regarding the law. It is not illegal to not care about one’s animals. It is, however, illegal to not care for them. Remember this when considering whether someone should intervene. A dog left out all day without food or water is being neglected. An owner who doesn’t walk his dog enough is not breaking any laws. A horse left in a field without anything to eat but grass and no water for long periods of time is being neglected. An owner who’s horse is lonely and never ridden isn’t breaking any laws. In some areas, it isn’t even illegal to leave a dog chained outside for long periods of time. If you disagree with local laws, or feel that they do not fully account for the needs of animals, contact your local representative.

Know Who to Call
Knowing who to call is important and saves time. If there is a Humane Society in your area you can call them, and they can direct you to the right authorities. Look in the front of your yellow pages for animal control listings. Many rural areas do not have a designated agency to deal with animal cruelty. In these areas, contact your county sheriff’s office. As a last resort, if you can’t find any other number, remember that animal cruelty is a crime. You can call 911.

Document the Event
If you can do so safely, photograph or videotape the event. If you cannot, take thorough and complete notes. If it is established that a crime has taken place, you may have to explain the event again at a later date. It is important to remember as many details as possible when it comes to convicting an accused animal abuser. You’ll have all the details at your disposal if you write it all down.

Just the Facts
When you report the event, leave emotion out of it. It is much more effective to stick to the facts and let the situation speak for itself. Tell those to whom you report the abuse the date and time of the event, the type of animal, the animal’s condition, if there were other witnesses, and if so, who else saw what happened, who was involved, and where the event occurred.

If you suspect neglect, try to be sure you are not mistaken. If you see a dog without water, maybe he just drank it all and his owner will be attending to him shortly. Try to observe the animal on more than one occasion at different times of day to get a more complete picture of the situation.

No Confrontation
Do not confront the person you suspect of abusing an animal. This is for your safety, but also for the safety of the animal. There have been cases where neighbors confronted those they suspected of animal abuse and out of fear of the involvement of law enforcement, the abusing party murdered the animal to dispose of the evidence of abuse.

Past Abuse
Often, those convicted of animal abuse and those who have had their animals taken away are under legal orders to not own another animal. If you know someone has been convicted of animal abuse and see that they are in possession of another animal, contact the authorities.

You’re Not the Bad Guy
Sometimes, people are afraid to report neglect (which is a form of abuse) because they feel that the owner of the animal does dearly care for the animal, despite the neglect, and they would hate to see the animal taken away. Animal control officers and humane society officials understand that neglect as a result of ignorance is different from purposeful neglect. Sometimes people just don’t understand the needs of their pet. In these cases, authorities will usually go to the residence, explain the needs of the animal, and ascertain whether the owner is capable of catering to these needs. The owner is usually allowed to keep the animal and the authorities will check back to make sure the necessary changes are made. The bottom line though, is that no matter what happens, you are not the bad guy. You are not abusing an animal, you are making sure that animal is cared-for and safe, and that is commendable.

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