Dog in kennelAs fellow animal lovers, it is hard for us to imagine treating a pet or animal unkindly. Sadly, though, animal cruelty occurs every day. It takes on many shapes and forms, but regardless of how you look at it, treating an animal without respect is a serious offense.

Take a step back and ask yourself if you know how to recognize animal cruelty and whether you know what to do about it.

The Faces of Animal Cruelty

Animal cruelty isn’t always as black and white as you might think. While most of us would step in if we saw a pet being beaten or otherwise physically harmed, cruelty isn’t always intentional. It may come in the form of:

  • Intentional physical harm (striking, kicking, otherwise beating or hurting an animal)
  • Neglect (lack of food, water, shelter, or veterinary care)
  • Abandonment
  • Hoarding
  • Animal fighting

Michigan defines adequate care and treatment of animals and can be a helpful reference when you are not sure if a pet is being cared for within the statutes of the law.

Recognizing the Signs

There are some significant signs that you may notice that can help determine that you may need to step in. If you see an animal:

  • Being physically beaten or harmed
  • Without food or water
  • Without shelter, especially in inclement weather (this includes the heat)
  • In poor condition (skinny, parasite infested, open sores or wounds)
  • Living in unsanitary conditions
  • Without supervision/ appears to be abandoned
  • Tied or otherwise confined with little room to move or turn around
  • With a collar of any sort embedded into his or her neck
  • Displaying particularly skittish, shy, or aggressive behavior
  • Kept with many other animals on the same property
  • That appears to be being trained to fight

Animal cruelty is absolutely illegal, and while it may not happen out in the open in front of your eyes, it is important to be on the lookout for signs that a pet may need your voice.

Taking a Stand

So what can you do about animal cruelty? Being an advocate for the animals is extremely important. Don’t assume someone else will step in and do the job. You can take a stand against animal cruelty by:

Speaking up – If you see animal cruelty in action, say something. Call 911 or our local animal control. In the Detroit area, you can call the Michigan Humane Society Animal Cruelty Hotline at (313) 872-3401. Be sure to document all the details as well as you can and don’t be afraid to testify if needed so that justice can be served.

Spread the word – Being the voice for an animal can be as simple as spreading helpful information through social media, educational events, and volunteer work.

Lobbying for change – Get involved in local government to be sure that the law is such that animals are protected.

It is also important to keep yourself safe and not confront anyone or put yourself in harm’s way. After all, if you are not here to speak up for the animals, you can’t do any further good in changing the life of a pet in need.

Animal cruelty is a serious matter, and Oakland Veterinary Referral Services is here to help as well. If you have any questions about reporting animal abuse, or need advice on how to help in an individual situation we are happy to help to the best of our ability. It is important we all stand together strong to help those creatures weaker than us.