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What To Do When You See Someone Abusing An Animal

What To Do When You Witness Animal Abuse Or Neglect

Animal abuse can seem so distant, so unlikely to happen close to us. Even though you love animals, you may find it difficult to make decisions when you actually witness it.

It’s up to us to speak up when we know an animal is being abused or neglected, even if it’s not easy. Sometimes, the abuser is a stranger, but it could be a friend or family member. No matter who it is, nobody has the right to make an animal suffer.

Signs That An Animal Is Abused Or Neglected

Sometimes, it’s obvious when an animal is being abused. You may witness their owner hitting them, or they may be severely underweight and clearly starving. At other times, it’s not obvious whether you should intervene.

Leaving a cat, dog or other animals outside at all times is unkind, especially in extreme heat or cold. However, this does not always mean their owner is breaking the law. A pet owner must provide food, water and shelter.

Dogs cannot be left on a chain or tether for more than 3 hours per day. Their tether should be at least 10 feet long, and they should have access to fresh, clean water.

Pet owners also must provide basic veterinary care. A neglected animal might be wearing a tight collar that they have outgrown, or may not have been removed for months. They may be covered in fleas or ticks and may be missing patches of fur. A bloated belly can indicate an untreated worm infestation. Gaping, uncovered wounds are a big sign that an animal needs immediate help.

Another common example of neglect is in a hoarding situation. There may be many animals living in too-small quarters. The area may reek with feces and urine. Hoarders may love their animals, but they are unable to provide a safe, clean living space for them.

If you’re unsure if a situation is truly abusive, call your local animal control.

If you live in Grand Prairie, Texas, call Grand Prairie Animal Services at (972) 237-8575

If it’s an emergency, call 911.

Document, Ask, Report!

When you come across a situation that even might be animal cruelty, use your phone to take pictures and videos. If you take photos from off the owner’s property, there is nothing they can do about it, though they can legally ask you to stop taking pictures if you are actually on their property.

Be extremely careful when approaching someone who you suspect is abusive towards animals – odds are, they’re not very kind to people, either. Do not enter their home, and always bring a friend. Be prepared to call the police if the situation becomes dangerous.

Some neglectful or abusive owners may be mentally or physically disabled, or may not be able to care for their animals due to financial problems. Avoid making assumptions or accusations, even when you think you’re sure of what you have witnessed.

When approaching a possible animal abuser, begin by politely asking questions, and thoughtfully listening to the owner’s responses. Try to be understanding, even if it’s difficult.

Keep in mind, you could only be witnessing a fraction of the abuse the animal faces each day. If you can, offer to care for the animal yourself, even if it means you’ll have to surrender the animal to a rescue or shelter. It’s ideal to take the animal to a no-kill shelter, but if the animal is in very poor health or extremely anxious or aggressive due to abuse, it may be better for them to be euthanized than to continue suffering in their existing living situation.

If you are unable to help the animal on your own, contact your local SPCA.

Remember, when someone is charged with animal cruelty, they can go to prison or face hefty fines. Don’t let this stop you from helping an animal in need. Just keep this in mind in case you are worried that the owner will retaliate against you. You can make the report anonymously, or you can convince the owner to surrender the animal to you so you can take it into your care or bring it to your local shelter.

The worst thing you can do is nothing. Animals can’t speak up for themselves, and they depend on people like us to be their voices. You could be the only person who notices or cares – don’t leave it to someone else to take action.

Have you ever witnessed animal abuse or neglect? What did you do?

3 thoughts on “What To Do When You See Someone Abusing An Animal

  1. I have a friend who hates bugs and stomps on them. Even when they aren’t doing anything to her. And she also says mean things about animals. I LOVE animals and bugs so I just CANNOT stand this anymore! And when she kills the bugs she laughs! She is only 11 but if she keeps this up I’m afraid of what she will be like when she grows up.
    I want to tell her to stop but I’m scared that we won’t be friends anymore, got any advice?

  2. Hey, I have a brother who has autism and he has a dog who he’ll hit and sometimes beat he holds him down a lot and spanks him. If I try to interfere I get yelled at and sent to my room which is stupid but I can’t control my father. I don’t want my autistic brother to go to jail and I am also attached to the animals (he hits his own dog but we have 6 other pets 2 other dogs 3 cats and a rat) and I’m worried that not only his dog will be taken away but so will the rest. I take care of all the animals and I love them so much, my personal dog has nightmares and is extremely anxious around children and men of all ages he can also get aggressive and he’s horribly attached to me. I don’t know what to do, I have a therapist and I’m most likely going to tell her but I’m fighting with myself on if I should tell her because I don’t want the animals to be taken away. The animals are more family to me then my actual family is. Advise?

    1. Babbah,

      Animal abuse is never right and there is no excuse for it. In my opinion, it would be best for you to talk to your therapist and see what she says. Maybe she can talk to your father or have someone else talk to your father. Maybe you and your therapist can get together and have a city representative, authoritative personnel from the city, come to the house and give a written warning letter of some sort. I understand you don’t want to lose the animals. I don’t think you will the first time. I believe they give you a warning first. But you should definitely talk to your therapist and tell her everything. She is your therapist and she will help you get to the bottom of this.

      Good Luck and please Keep us updated on how it goes!

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