The following steps are from the Humane Society. Follow closely to learn more about animal abuse.
Read also: “What to Do if You See a Dog Trapped in a Hot Car“
- REPORTING ABUSE
If you witness suspected cruelty to animals, call your local animal control agency as soon as possible or dial 911 if you’re unfamiliar with local organizations. If you make a report of alleged animal cruelty, the responding agency is required to investigate.
If your area lacks the proper animal welfare agency, and your local authorities are not equipped to deal with animal cruelty cases, you can also email or call The HSUS and ask to speak with one of our experts about the suspected abuse.
Be sure to document the case as well as you can, with dates, times, specific details and, if possible, footage and photographs from a cell phone. All of these things can help appropriate agencies during any investigation they may do of the suspected cruelty.
Hoarding behavior often victimizes animals. Sufferers of a hoarding disorder may impose severe neglect on animals by housing far more than they are able to adequately take care of. Contact your local animal control agency if you find out about animal hoarding. Some animal hoarding situations can be more difficult than others to solve.
- LACK OF VETERINARY CARE
Untreated wounds are a red flag that demand immediate attention; emaciation, scabs and hair loss can also be a sign of untreated diseases. If you can, alert the owner to the animal’s condition and alert local authorities of suspected neglect as soon as possible.
- INADEQUETE SHELTER
In extreme heat or cold temperatures can be deadly. It can seem daunting or unnecessary to report neglect for inadequate sheltering, but conditions can change quickly, causing suffering or even death of the animal. Contact a local animal control agency immediately if you see an animal in inadequate shelter and document the incident with a cell phone camera if possible.
- CHAINED DOGS
Dogs who are tethered continuously suffer tremendously, both from social isolation and exposure to predators and the elements.
A startling number of animals die every year when people move out of their residences and simply leave the animals behind. Sometimes, an abandoned dog’s barking or cat’s howling can alert the neighbors, but it’s wise to keep an eye on a recently vacated home, especially if the former residents moved suddenly. Companion animals kept in cages or tanks are often overlooked upon a residents’ sudden passing, and may suffer neglect as well. If you find or know of abandoned animals, contact your local animal control agency immediately.
- PETS LEFT IN CARS
Time is of the essence when reporting pets left in parked cars. Even if the outside temperature seems cool, these animals could be minutes away from death or irreversible organ damage. If you cannot locate the owner immediately, don’t be afraid to call local authorities, detailing your location and the make, model and license plate number of the vehicle the animal is inside.
- BEATING AND PHYSICAL ABUSE
If you witness direct physical violence to an animal, report the incident immediately to authorities. If you decide to intervene in any way, use your best judgement and do not become physically involved in the situation; remember, even well-intentioned actions could compromise the process of investigation into suspected abuse.
- ANIMAL FIGHTING AND ORGANIZED CRUELTY
Organized cruelty, such as dogfighting, cockfighting and other bloodsports, is illegal in all 50 states, and is linked to other criminal activities such as human violence, gambling and drug distribution. If you hear about or witness events like these, immediately report them to the local authorities and the HSUS.
These are just common examples of animal cruelty. Even if a case doesn’t fit neatly into these categories, take action if something feels off. In many cases, you may be the only chance an animal has at escaping cruelty or neglect.