The other day, my sister was telling me about how a former roommate of hers would pick up her dog by the scruff of his neck and beat him whenever he did something bad. Before I could say anything, my sister quickly added that the dog was no longer under the former roommate’s watch (as he had gone to a better home). That didn’t keep me from feeling shocked, hurt, and beyond angry – the way I always feel whenever I hear about someone mistreating an animal. Many people don’t realize that, since domesticated animals can’t stick up for themselves, we humans have to take action whenever we witness or suspect animal abuse.
I told my sister, “If the dog was still with that girl, I’d do whatever I could to find her name and address so I could report her.” As soon as these words left my mouth, I realized that I had no idea how to report animal cruelty. Who should I contact? What should I say? Would they even take my report seriously and actually do something about it? What will happen to the animal after they take it away? It wasn’t long before I realized that I was truly clueless and wouldn’t be able to react properly if I ever witnessed or heard about an animal being mistreated again. The more people know about reporting animal cruelty, the more animal lives will be saved.
I did research until my eyes fell out. Now that I can finally answer all the questions brewing in my head, I’m all armed and ready for the next time I witness or hear about an animal being abused (which I hope will be never!) I feel that it’s only necessary to pass that information along to you, so you can know what to do in such a situation as well.
Who should I contact?
Your local law enforcement. The type of group varies by city. Some cities have Animal Control, while others have Humane Law Enforcement. In other areas, especially rural areas, the police department handles animal cruelty. In order to find out which agency or department to contact in your area, you can do one of the following three things:
- Call your local police department and ask them for the appropriate department and their contact information should you ever witness or suspect animal cruelty. Save the information someplace safe.
- Use ASPCA’s searchable database of more than 13,000 local humane societies and animal control organizations, and find one that’s closest to you. Contact them if you witness or suspect animal cruelty.
- If you witness animal cruelty in progress and don’t know who to contact, call 911. The police dispatcher will direct you to the correct department.
What should I say?
Tell them exactly what you saw or heard. Be as detailed as possible – use dates, times, and locations. If possible, supply photographs and the names and contact information of other people who would back your claim. You can file an anonymous report, but please remember that your claim will be deemed more credible if it has a name attached to it. Let them know that you’re more than willing to lend assistance however you can during the investigation of the case.
Will they take my report seriously and do something about it?
Absolutely! Animal cruelty is a crime. Every report of animal cruelty has to be investigated, because there are many times when an animal cruelty investigation uncovers evidence of domestic abuse, child neglect, and other forms of human-related abuse.
What will happen to the animal after they take it away?
The animal will be taken to a shelter, where it will receive necessary treatment. There are many shelters and rescue groups willing to take care of seized animals until they’re adopted into forever homes. However, there’s no guarantee that the animal you’re reporting on behalf of will end up in a better home. If you involve yourself every step of the way, maybe the authorities will let you have a say in what happens to the animal after it’s removed from its abusive home. Keep in mind that animal control officers never want to remove an animal from its home unless it’s absolutely necessary. If the abuser goes to court and gets convicted of animal cruelty, s/he won’t be able to own any more pets in the future, and that means no other animal would have to go through the same abuse. That’s why reporting animal cruelty is always the right thing to do.
If you want to read more on this topic, ASPCA has 10 tips for reporting cruelty.