Have You Witnessed Animal Abuse? Here’s What You Need to Do

Think you may have witnessed animal abuse? Unsure whether it counts as abuse or neglect? Not sure what to do now to help the animal? 

Witnessing an animal suffering can be extremely heart wrenching, and it can be challenging to know what to do in the situation. Fortunately, there are ways you can take action to make sure that the animal receives help. Here’s what you need to know. 

What Counts as Animal Abuse?

There are many different types of animal abuse. Here are some examples:

  • The owner of the animal is hitting, punching, or choking it.
  • Malnutrition or starvation due to the animal not being fed appropriately.
  • The animal is left outside 24/7, chained up or free-roaming.
  • Adequate shelter, water, and food are not provided for the animal in question.
  • The animal is left on a chain or tether for more than three hours per day.
  • Adequate veterinary care (preventative and reactive) is not provided for the animal.
  • The animal’s general care is neglected (e.g., they’re wearing a tight collar they’ve outgrown).
  • The animal is living in unacceptable conditions (e.g., they’re living in a hoarding situation).

This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you’re unsure of whether something you’ve witnessed constitutes ‘animal abuse’, it’s best to get in contact with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) for your peace of mind. 

There are a staggering 63.4 million households with pet dogs in America. Close to 65% of all abused animals are dogs. Every year, more than 10 million animals die from abuse in the US alone, so reporting an incident could save an animal’s life.

What Can You Do Immediately?

Take Photos and Videos

If you witness animal abuse first-hand, the first thing you should do is try to take photos or videos with your phone. They can legally ask you to stop taking pictures if you’re on their property; however, on public ground, you’re allowed to capture them and their actions. 

Collect Evidence

As soon as you leave the scene of the animal abuse, you’re going to need to report it to the ASPCA or RSPCA. These companies count on you to be their eyes and ears when it comes to animal abuse. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure you’ve collected as much evidence as possible to support your claim, to increase the chances of RSPCA Inspectors being able to help the animal.

Things to record include:

  • A description of the animal or animals involved.
  • The abused animals’ location.
  • The name and address of the person you think may be responsible for the cruelty or neglect.
  • The name and addresses of any other witnesses that may be able to help.

Always Approach With Caution

If you feel the need to approach them to stop animal abuse, be extremely careful. It’s likely that if the person isn’t very nice to animals, they’re probably not very nice to people also! Only approach them if you have someone with you, and have your phone ready to call the police if necessary. Start by asking polite questions and listening to their responses, aiming to be understanding and solution-oriented.

Remain Solution-oriented

In some cases of animal abuse or neglect, the person may be unable to care for their animal correctly due to physically or mentally disabled or financial circumstances. It’s important always to try not to cast judgment on the person if you don’t know the full extent of the situation or haven’t witnessed the neglect firsthand. 

What Should You Do After the Fact? 

After you’ve witnessed the animal abuse, you should get in contact with the animal abuse organization of your state as soon as you can. Report your concern for the animal and the misuse and neglect they may be experiencing. As mentioned above, you’ll need to collect evidence from substantiating your claim and helping the Inspectors address the owner’s situation.

Helping Animals In Need

When it comes to animal abuse, the worst thing that you can do is nothing. Animals cannot reach out to help themselves, and that’s why it’s so important that we be the eyes and ears within the community, protecting them. 

No animal deserves to experience abuse, cruelty, or neglect, so if you believe you’ve witnessed an animal suffering preventably, document the situation as much as you can, and get in contact with the ASPCA or RSPCA today.

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