Be Kind to All Animals: Report Abuse.
(MS) — Cruelty to animals is something most people simply cannot tolerate. Whether it’s an animal you know or just one you see often and feel might be the victim, witnessing animal abuse puts a person in a precarious position, as many might feel there’s little, if anything, they can do.
Fortunately, that’s not the case. Since a lot of folks feel as though cruelty to animals is on a par with cruelty to children, there are laws that prohibit abusing animals. For those who think they might have been witnesses to animal abuse, the following steps should be taken when having thoughts of turning someone into the authorities.
• Know the laws. What you might define as abuse might not necessarily coincide with what legislators defined as abuse when they wrote animal cruelty laws. Reporting someone for something that’s not against the law could only make things worse for the animal, as a potentially abusive owner could grow even more so if he feels someone is intruding on his privacy.
Besides speaking up, the most important thing to do is know the law. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Web site (www.hsus.org) provides information on each state’s animal cruelty laws as well as any pending legislation. In addition to that, HSUS provides information as to whom you can contact should your research confirm that what you saw can be legally defined as animal cruelty.
• Document incidents. Providing proof of child abuse can often be difficult, and doing the same for animal abuse is often more so. Since animals can’t speak for themselves, they need someone to speak for them. If you’re considering reporting animal abuse, then that spokesperson is now you. Whenever you witness animal cruelty, be sure to write down what exactly happened and when. If possible, photograph anything you see. Do so carefully, however, as you never know how volatile someone who abuses animals can be if they see you snapping photos of them.
Something that could help substantially is to involve others who might be witnesses as well. A “he said, she said” situation, where it’s you against the animal owner, might not hold up, so the more witnesses you can get, the more likely you’ll be to save the animal from an abusive situation.
• Understand what reporting means for you. If you’re about to report a possible case of animal cruelty, realize this is a commitment. Such an accusation is not to be taken lightly, as even abusers won’t want to give up their animal without a fight. Court dates might be set, and you’ll more than likely need to attend any proceedings as a witness. For genuine animal lovers, however, such a sacrifice is worth the price if it leads to saving an animal from an abusive situation.
• Be careful. Studies have shown that children who are abusive to animals often grow up to be abusive to people. In addition, adults who abuse animals may have little problem getting violent with other adults. This makes the process of reporting animal cruelty a bit more delicate, as you’ll want to ensure your own safety as well as the animals. Don’t take matters into your own hands and confront an individual; leave this up to an animal care officer or the police.
As far as personal protection, once you file a report, your name is now attached to the case, so beware of any possible retribution. Don’t take any threats an animal abuser might make lightly. Report them to the police immediately. Also, be careful walking around day or night, and keep a strict eye on any of your own pets. An unstable animal abuser might seek to get retribution on you by harming your animals, so keep a close eye on them and bring them in at night if you don’t already.
• Don’t give up. Sadly, many a yarn has been spun about bureaucratic neglect when it comes to abuse, be it a child or animal abuse. While the majority of officials take their jobs seriously, not all of them do. If local officials appear to be dragging their feet or taking a case you feel strongly about lightly, don’t hesitate to go above them. Write a congressman, or perhaps even contact local media officials, such as your local newspaper or local television station.
In addition to media outlets, organizations such as HSUS exist for the express reason of protecting animals from harm or abuse. Should any of your efforts with local officials fall short, attempt to contact either of those organizations, which can be found on the Internet at www.hsus.org.