Animal abuse can come in all different forms and can have very different signs. While we are less likely to see dog fights or puppy mills, we may once in a while come upon other types of animal abuse. Other than physical violence, the deprivation of basic necessities (such as food, water, shelter, and veterinary care) is a serious type of animal abuse. Here are some signs of animal cruelty that you can look for:
- Open wounds – could be around the neck from a tight collar or found elsewhere that are untreated
- Extreme thinness or emaciation
- Weakness, limping or inability to stand/walk normally
- Heavy discharge from the eyes or nose
- Fur infested with fleas, ticks or other parasites
- Pets kept outside in severe weather without access to adequate shelter
- Pets kept in an area filled with feces or garbage
- Too many pets in a small space (hoarding)
Luckily, each state has some sort of law against animal cruelty so you should always speak out if you see something going on. In New York, cruelty to animals is defined as “overdrives, overloads, tortures or cruelly beats or unjustifiably injures, maims, mutilates, or kills any animal, whether wild or tame, and whether belonging to himself or to another, or deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, food, or drink, or neglects or refuses to furnish it such sustenance or drink, or causes, procures or permits.” It is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of up to $1000 and/or imprisonment up to a year. Aggravated cruelty, known as conduct intended to cause serious pain or death, is a felony punishable with a fine up to $5000 and/or imprisonment up to 5 years. To read more of the law in New York look here.
To report cases of animal cruelty in New York City, call 311. If you witness life-threatening cruelty in progress, please call 911. If you are elsewhere, contact the local humane society or local police. We do not recommend you saying something to the abuser directly as you never know what their reaction will be.
If you witness cruelty be sure to write down exactly what you see and when. The more information you have to give the better. If you can take a photograph or video, without putting yourself in danger, you should do so.
Please speak out if you see something wrong with an animal that could be due to owner’s abuse. It may only take a few minutes for you to report it but it will mean the world to the animal you save.
By Elana Frank