Abused dog receiving veterinary care after being rescuedNo animal should have to live in a dangerous, abusive, or unhealthy situation; sadly, a shocking number do every day of their lives. Whether the abuse and neglect is deliberate and prolonged, or unintentional due to ignorance or financial difficulties, the fact is, it is ILLEGAL, not to mention unconscionable.

Abuse can leave life-long scars on a dog, both physically and emotionally. Some abused dogs are never able to emotionally recover from their abuse, becoming too aggressive or mistrustful of humans to be rehabilitated and adopted out. Thankfully, many abused dogs are able to make a significant recovery with enough love, attention, socialization, and reassurance. Many of the Michael Vick pit bulls, for example, have gone on to be adopted and become Canine Good Citizens® and even therapy dogs!

The Humane Society of the United States and ASPCA suggest the following ways to tell if an animal might be being abused or neglected:

–  Animal is chained or tethered outside for long periods of time

–  Animal is deprived of access to food and/or water

–  Animal has no protection or shelter from the elements

–  Animal is clearly emaciated and/or overly lethargic

–  Animal has obvious untreated wounds or medical conditions, is limping, or has multiple patches of missing fur and open sores

–  An excessive amount of animals living on one property; this could indicate animal hoarding

–  Animals living in abandoned homes

–  Animal has an obvious flea or tick infestation

–  Animal cowers in fear or acts aggressively towards its owner

–  Animal is left alone in a hot car

Dog left in hot carIf you suspect abuse, or witness an animal being directly physically abused, do not be afraid to report it to your local police or humane authorities. We do not suggest directly confronting the owner, as you might put yourself in danger by doing this. It is best to take the following steps to safely and properly report the abuse:

– Write down your observations, along with the dates.

– Speak with other witnesses and write down their observations and contact information

– Document the abuse with dated photos and/or video. A cell phone works just fine for this.

– Contact your local authorities and provide them with your detailed evidence. You can give your name, or ask to remain anonymous.

– If you witness direct physical violence towards an animal, immediately call the authorities, providing them with as much detailed information as possible.

By reporting abuse, you will be saving an animal’s life, and giving it a second chance at having a loving home and the affection and care it deserves. As animals are unable to speak for themselves, it is up to us to be their voice. DogWatch encourages you to use yours. For more on how you can help fight animal cruelty, please visit the ASPCA or Humane Society web sites.

Photo credits:

Top: Halfway to Concord via Flickr

Bottom: Greg Younger via Flickr