Animal cruelty comes in a few shapes and sizes, and is considered a felony in 48 states. Sometimes it’s deliberate, while other situations are unintentional. Whether the pet owner can no longer afford proper care or the animal wasn’t meant for domestication, Humane Law Enforcement and Animal Control Officers are dedicated to their job of saving animals whose lives are in danger. Although they’re well-trained and work hard, they also rely on the public to report any suspicious situations. You can save the life of an animal by knowing how to properly spot abuse or neglect and reporting it as soon as you see it.
The Physical Condition
A few tell-tale signs of animal abuse is the through the physical condition of the animal. Open wounds/sores, fleas/ticks on the coat, a lack of energy or weakness and limping are noticeable physical signs of neglect or abuse. Sometimes animals will have bumps/rashes on their face, including in their eyes. If the animal doesn’t look healthy or falls under any of the conditions named here, animal abuse is a clear possibility.
The Living Situation
Animals should not be tied or chained outside with little or no room to move. A chained animal is an abused animal. Animals should not be left in abandoned areas such as vacant homes, backyards or even the side of the road. This is a crime in all 50 states and is considered neglect. An animal needs sturdy shelter to protect it from the elements such as sun, rain, or snow. No animal should suffer neglect and chains.
The Source of Food/Water
An animal with no sign of food or water is a dangerous situation, especially if the animal looks malnourished. If you can see the ribs on an animal, it’s likely it hasn’t been fed in a while. In the case where the animal has food and water, but it looks murky or covered with insects, you can tell the animal is in danger and needs proper nutrition. Often in cases such as this, the best thing you can do is call for help and get the animal to a vet where it will receive proper medication and regain health.
Aggression in certain breeds of dogs is normal, but if you spot a dog that viciously wants to attack, it may suffer from the emotional trauma of abuse. Another sign of abuse is how the animal reacts to you. If it shies away, it might be afraid of humans due to lack of care. If a dog seeks too weak to walk, move it’s head and considerably lifeless, seek immediate help by calling 9-1-1. These behavior signs are similar for assessing other animals as well.
What You Can Do
Before you approach any animal in a possible case of abuse or cruelty, assess how the animal is reacting to you. You don’t want to put yourself or the animal in unnecessary danger. If you don’t feel comfortable going near the animal, call 9-1-1 before you call animal control. Your local police department will decide the best course of action. If you spot animal cruelty, take action and report it.