The stories you may have heard about animal cruelty are heart-breaking - neighborhood kids setting a dog on fire, organized cock fighting, a roadside zoo at which animals are beaten into submission and kept in horrible conditions. There are instances of neglect, too, in which an owner is not providing proper shelter, food, or veterinary care for a companion animal.
Many people who witness cruelty, neglect, or animal abuse are not aware that legal action may be taken. Some may be frightened to register a formal complaint for fear that the abuser will find out. But if it were not for concerned citizens, humane organizations and police departments would not know about many instances of animal cruelty. You can make a difference.
Who to Report to
If you witness or hear about animal cruelty, abuse, or neglect taking place, you can help stop the suffering by reporting it to your local SPCA, humane society, or law enforcement agency. Acts of animal cruelty can also be reported to the ASPCA's legal department so that local officials can be advised about how to prosecute the case. District attorneys, too, need to understand the seriousness of animal abuse. Without more vigorous prosecution, abusers may continue to feel impervious to the law.
Talk to local teachers, veterinarians, and the clergy, the more people who are aware of the animal abuse plaguing our society, the less chance there is for abusers to hide. It is becoming increasingly clear that people who abuse animals are also linked to domestic violence and spousal and child abuse. Also, make sure schools in your town include humane education in their lesson plans. Children who learn to love and respect animals will grow up to be compassionate adults.