A Dirty Dozen

12 Signs of Potential Animal Abuse and/or Neglect

And what you can do.

Innocent animals fall victim to abuse and neglect every day, and usually at the hands of someone who is supposed to love and care for them.  If you suspect an animal is being abused, please contact your local SPCA or police department. North Shore Animal League America has put together this list of 12 things to look for to help you identify animal abuse and neglect.

  1. A person — adult or child — hitting or in any way abusing or being violent with an animal.
  2. Signs of trauma like scars, wounds, and open/infected sores, especially in different areas of the body or in different stages of healing.
  3. An animal who is lame or limping or extremely lethargic or confused.
  4. Signs of abusive neglect include severe fur matting and/or a filthy coat. Also overgrown nails and/or flea/tick infestation.
  5. An animal who is severely underweight with bones showing.
  6. Extremely inflamed eyes or ears.
  7. Loss of hair or scaly skin, bumps, or rashes from skin conditions left untreated.
  8. Pets tied up outside without access to proper food and clean water for long periods of time.
  9. Pets tied up outside without shelter, especially in extreme heat or cold.
  10. Tight collars, chains, or padlocks that cause a neck wound or are embedded in the pet’s neck.
  11. Animals in outside areas that are littered with garbage, broken glass, and feces.
  12. Animals kept in crowded kennels that are too small to allow them to stand, turn around, and move normally.
  • Also be aware of the possibility of hoarding, if there are too many animals on a property.
  • Also be aware of evidence of dog fighting or training for fighting.
  • Also be aware of abandonment. If a neighbor moves away and leaves an animal behind, that’s cruelty too, and it’s a crime in many states.

What to do?

First: Document what you observe with descriptions of the people and pets involved as well as the location, date, time, and videos/photos if possible. Details are valuable.

Then: Contact the proper authorities in your community. It could be the police department, your local animal control, or the SPCA. Know who they are before you need them and add their phone numbers to your cell phone contact list.

And: Be prepared to testify. Although anonymity is usually an option, witnesses who are willing to speak up can make a difference to law enforcement and judges.

This information is intended as a guide.
Please check your local and state laws for additional information about reporting animal abuse in your neighborhood and community.
Thank you for caring.
North Shore Animal League America