As dedicated animal lovers, it's up to us to act as their voice when we witness cruelty or suspect something isn't right. Read on to find out the types of animal cruelty and how to report it.

What To Do If You Witness or Suspect Animal Cruelty

As a former television news reporter who covered serious crimes and high-profile court cases, there isn’t much that phases me. But let me tell you—just the thought of someone abusing or neglecting a defenseless animal makes my stomach turn. And get this—the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports an animal is abused nationwide every 60 seconds. Sick. As dedicated animal lovers, it’s up to us to act as their voice when we witness cruelty or suspect something isn’t right. Read on to find out the types of animal cruelty and how to report it.

Types Of Animal Cruelty

According to The Humane Society of The United States, “Most reported animal cruelty comes in the form of neglect, with direct violence occurring less.”

Neglect occurs when an animal’s caretaker fails to provide the basic necessities. This includes food, water, shelter, and medical care. Neglect—whether intentional or unintentional— can become life-threatening. This type of cruelty is often the result of someone not realizing how much work goes into caring for an animal.

Abuse occurs when someone physically harms an animal. Sometimes an abuser will harm an animal because they somehow think it’s “funny.” Other times animal cruelty is coupled with domestic violence.

Some Warning Signs Of Animal Cruelty

  • Witness a person beating, kicking, burning, stabbing, strangling, or shooting an animal
  • Witness a person abandoning an animal
  • Open wounds or sores 
  • Limping/showing a hard time moving around
  • Hair loss, lesions, scabs, or other skin conditions that aren’t treated
  • Collar so tight its become embedded into the skin
  • Infested with fleas, ticks, or parasites 
  • Extremely thin and visible signs of malnutrition 
  • No access to food or water
  • Lack of shelter 
  • Confined inside of a car or another enclosed area during extreme weather
  • Confined to cages or kennels that are too small – animal is rarely let out
  • Poor sanitary conditions 
  • Reaks of urine or feces 
  • Too many animals living on the property 
  • Kept in overcrowded conditions

Who To Contact If You Witness or Suspect Cruelty

Every U.S. state has animal cruelty laws and, when it comes to reporting cruelty, the first step is finding the right contact. Here are some places you can start. 

Police/Local Law Enforcement Agency 

If you witness someone physically harming an animal then grab your phone and immediately call 911. If you can get officers to the scene of the crime as it’s happening, that is the best. Along with an address, make sure to describe the type of abuse and the abuser’s physical description to dispatch personnel. 

If you suspect cruelty, reach out to your area law enforcement agency. Click here to search for your local authorities. Some local police departments even have their own animal cruelty unit. Again, you will want to provide them with as much information as possible. A written statement detailing what you saw and dates, photographs, videos, names, etc. 

According to the ASPCA:

“It is possible to file an anonymous report, but please consider providing your information. The case is more likely to be pursued when there are credible witnesses willing to stand behind the report and, if necessary, testify in court.”

Local Shelter or Animal Control Agency 

A quick Google search will help you find your local contact. But if you can’t figure out your local taxpayer-operated shelter or animal control agency then you can always give your veterinarian’s office a call. They should have those contacts! 

Just like if you were to report your suspicions to police, provide shelter or animal control agency officials with as much information as possible. Document dates, times, and specific details of the incident. If you have any photos or video of the action, dog, or location then turn those over too (make copies first).

Be a voice.