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How to Report Cruelty to Animals

Table of Contents

Sad brown black and white dog behind chain link fence

Animal cruelty is a sad fact of life that all too many people have to witness at some point in their lives. However, trying to find out who to report cases to can be somewhat tricky. You want to make sure that you know which organizations are the right ones to report suspected cruelty to and how to go about making sure your concerns are taken seriously.

What is Animal Cruelty?

Animal cruelty, as defined in most jurisdictions, involves both deliberate cruel acts and neglect. Some examples of cruelty and neglect include depriving an animal of food, water or shelter; confining them in a way that prohibits normal movement, denying ill animals veterinary care, physical abuse liked beating or kicking and deliberately fighting animals for sport. Any of these acts requires quick intervention to help protect the animals.

Who Do You Go To?

Although many people are inclined to think that local humane societies handle these cases, most of them lack the legal authority to investiate cruelty. Some humane groups have staff who can help connect you to the right authorities, but you should still know who to contact.

  • Most cities, towns or counties have an animal control or animal services department. In smaller locations, these duties might be handled by a dog warden.
  • Some areas outsource their animal control to a local humane society/coalition or SPCA. These groups can help point you in the right direction for whom to contact, in any cases.
  • If all else fails, contact your local police or sheriff's department. Most police departments have jurisdiction over animal control.

Get All of Your Information

If you witness the cruelty in a setting where you can get pictures or video, this will help convince the authorities to act. Make sure you have the correct location.

Call, and give the investigating agency your name, address and phone number, and give as much detail as possible. Try to meet the officer as they arrive so you can show them where to go, but avoid trespassing on private property to do so.

Do not try to engage anyone involved in dogfighting yourself, as they are often involved in other violent criminal activity. Call your local police department or other law enforcement agency for help when you witness such acts.


Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.




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