Preventing Animal Cruelty: 6 Simple Things You Can Do to Help

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June 2020

We’ve all seen the news stories or social media posts about extreme animal cruelty. The horrible photos that depict emaciated animals, unsanitary hoarding or living conditions, or civilians breaking car windows for pets in the middle of summer are never fun to see. It’s unpleasant to watch and can make any animal lover upset enough to want to do something, but what can you do when it comes to preventing animal cruelty?

No matter how angry cruelty to animals can make you, it’s essential to remember helping out doesn’t always require big shows or risky actions. At CVCA, our primary focus is always providing expert service, comfort, and care for pets. That’s why today’s post highlights ways you can help with preventing animal cruelty and making our furry friends’ lives more comfortable.

Understand Your Cruelty Laws

Up until recently, preventing animal cruelty was decided via state laws. Every state had its own rules and regulations for what was considered cruelty to animals, but “the lack of federal legislation made it difficult to prosecute animal cruelty cases that span different states or jurisdictions.”

Now—thanks to revisions to the current animal cruelty law put into place in 2010—animal cruelty is a federal crime that can be punished with monetary fines, up to seven years in prison, or both.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) was signed into law back in November 2019 and had the endorsement of several law enforcement groups. According to NPR, the law itself “bans the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impalement or other serious harm to ‘living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians,’” as well as banning animal crush videos.

With the revised law in place, preventing animal cruelty will become easier to report and simpler for law enforcement to manage.

Report Animal Cruelty When You See It

If you think you’re witnessing animal cruelty, what should you do? According to the ASPCA, there are a few things you can do before contacting the police or your local animal control:

  • Try to provide a written statement that has details (date, time, location, etc.) of the event or events that you can give to law enforcement. If possible, contact names and numbers are also very helpful.
  • Without putting yourself in danger, or trespassing on private property, try and get a few photos of the animals or incident. Just remember that your personal safety comes first!
  • Provide your name and contact information when reporting an incident if you can. Anonymous tips are okay, but do not go through the system as quickly.

Long story short, the more information you can provide, the better. Preventing animal cruelty and reporting it only takes a little bit of your time and effort, but you could be saving an animal’s life in the process.

Watch for Signs of Animal Abuse or Neglect

The signs of animal abuse come in many different forms. The ASPCA divides the signs of animal neglect into two groups: physical and environmental.

Physical signs of animal neglect may not be easily seen from a distance unless you witness an owner striking an animal. But if you notice some of the following in an animal, you’ll want to report it to law enforcement:

  • Open Wounds or Sores (i.e., around the neck where a collar is too tight)
  • Extreme Emaciation or Thinness
  • Limping, Weakness, or the Inability to Walk Normally
  • Lack of Hygiene (i.e., matted fur, overgrown nails, dirty fur, etc.)
  • An Overabundance of Fleas and Ticks
  • Skin Rashes, Loss of Fur, Bumpy or Scaly Skin

Seeing pets with any of these conditions is never good, but sometimes it is difficult to be sure of neglect. If you see any of these environmental neglect conditions, you may want to contact local animal control:

  • Pets are outside for long periods and tied up with inadequate or unsanitary food and water access.
  • Pets are kept outside in rain, snow, cold, extreme heat, or other inclement weather.
  • Pets are in an area that contains trash, feces, garbage, or other harmful objects.
  • Animals are in too-small cages or kennels (sometimes with other animals) that prevent a reasonable range of movement.

In addition to any of the above conditions, check with your local police department or SPCA to see if there are any other animal cruelty guidelines you need to know about before filing a report.

What If I See Animal Cruelty Online?

Depending on the nature of what you find online, there are different ways you can go about reporting it. If you see a video on social media posted by someone you follow, you can report it to the website (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in question.

For example, if you see an inappropriate video on Facebook, you can hit the ellipses on the top of the post and click “Find Support or Report Post.” We also highly recommend taking a screenshot of the post before you report it, which you can do by simply clicking the “PRT SCR” (print screen) button on your keyboard and pasting the image into a blank document. The ASPCA also has a list of online actions you can take to assist in preventing animal cruelty.

Donate to Local Causes

If a forward approach is not your style, there are other things you can do that go a long way in preventing animal cruelty. For instance, finding local animal benefit causes that you can donate to—like your local animal control—can really help out. Whether that’s in monetary donations or supplies, reach out to your local causes to see what they need.

For some inspiration on causes you can donate to, check out the list of places CVCA helps out on an annual basis.

Set an Example for Your Children

One of the best ways to help fight animal cruelty is to teach your children the dos and don’ts of animal care. This will help keep both your children and your animals safe. 

For instance, young children tend to want to tug on animal tails or ears, or even hang off of them. This isn’t necessarily animal cruelty at its worst, but teaching your kids proper behavior around pets will help your children recognize negative situations going forward. By making your child aware of these actions at an early age, you help them grow up into a caring and responsible pet owner.

Also, early signs of animal cruelty can be signs of criminal issues in your child down the line. While pulling the legs off of a bug may not seem so terrible at first, repeated occurrences can escalate to worse issues with larger animals. The earlier you address animal cruelty, the better it will be for you, your child, and your pets.

Adopt an Animal in Need

According to the ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey, problems with pets tend to be the most common reasons that animals end up in shelters. That means about 47 percent of rehomed dogs and 42 percent of rehomed cats were defined as having problematic behaviors, being aggressive, growing too large, or having health problems that owners couldn’t handle. Often, these problematic pet behaviors are the result of animal cruelty.

Also, a lot of animals in shelters tend to be victims of hoarding situations. There are approximately 250,000 animals a year that are victims of hoarding. But all animals, with the right rehabilitation, love, and care, can become wonderful members of your family.

Take a trip to your local animal welfare agency or shelter and see how you can help a furry friend in need. Often, most pets in abuse situations will need a little extra care, but with enough time and patience, animal adoption is a big step forward in preventing animal cruelty.

Want to Learn More About Preventing Animal Cruelty?

If you adopted your pet from an abuse or hoarding situation, make sure you take them to the vet for a checkup. Hopefully, they won’t find any cardiac issues with your pet, but if they do, rest assured you’re in the right hands at CVCA. Reach out to us to make an appointment or if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s heart health!


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