Animal cruelty can be one of the most difficult situations for an animal lover to witness. Cruelty comes in many forms and severities. Learning to recognize signs of animal cruelty can be the difference between life and death for an animal. Animal cruelty can involve the environment in which an animal is kept or the physical condition of the animal’s health. Some cases of cruelty are due to lack of education on the part of the person involved, while other cases are intentional. Cruelty involving the health of the animal may include a collar that is too tight, presence of a poor fur coat (loss of fur, parasite infestation, or open sores), wounds or injuries, or other medical conditions, which are not being treated. Environmental conditions that may indicate cruelty often include lack of food, water, or shelter; being left outside in severe weather conditions; or debris and/or fecal material in abundance within the area that the animal is being housed. Determining if an animal is suffering from acts of cruelty is not necessarily the responsibility of individuals, nor is it their responsibility to correct the conditions from which the animal’s suffering is derived. It is, however, the responsibility of anyone that witnesses actions likely to be considered as cruelty to report the situation in order to stop the abuse from continuing. The best course of action in stopping cruelty is to report the case to authorities. Local law enforcement and/or animal law enforcement officers are often the first line of defense for animals suffering from acts of abuse and neglect. Local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) organizations are a great resource and many have the legal backing to bring criminal charges against those individuals involved in the abuse. It is always a good idea to follow up with the organization that you report the case to. Never change the circumstances of the animal without first speaking to proper authorities, as it can prolong the animal’s time in a cruel environment. Confronting the individual responsible for the cruelty can lead to additional complications for both yourself and the animal. Remember that taking action in the correct ways is much more likely to result in the animal safely being removed from the situation with a decreased risk of them being returned to a truly cruel situation.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information on animal cruelty or visit: http://www.aspca.org/Home/Fight-Animal-Cruelty
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff