PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Pets: Reporting Abuse

It's hard to believe that anyone would ever hurt a sweet dog or a cute kitty. Unfortunately, it happens more often than we'd like to believe. But you can help by recognizing and reporting animal abuse in your area! Here's what you need to know:

Possible signs of animal cruelty
How can you tell if an animal is being abused? Look for these signs:

  • Sores, cuts, bruises or nicks on the animal's body
  • Patches of missing fur
  • The animal is extremely thin
  • The animal is limping or can't walk
  • Witnessing an owner hitting or beating an animal

Neglect is another form of abuse that's just as serious as physical abuse. Neglectful owners don't give their pets proper care and sometimes force them to live in cruel conditions, causing them to get sick and possibly die. Here are some signs to look out for when you're trying to figure out whether an animal is being neglected:

  • It's repeatedly left alone in a yard without food and water, often chained
  • It's injured and hasn't been taken to a vet
  • It's crammed into a small cage, possibly with too many other animals
  • It's kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions

Take the first step
Even though you feel angry, don't confront the abuser yourself. Let your parents or another adult know about the abuse you witnessed and together write it down. Provide as much information as possible, such as:

  • The type of cruelty you saw
  • Who was involved
  • The date of the abuse
  • The location of the abuse

Who to call
Every state and city deals with animal abuse differently. In some places, it's handled by the police. In others, the animal control agency takes care of it. The American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) can help you find out where to report animal cruelty in your area at: http://www.aspca.org

In many states, animal abuse is a felony, which means people who are caught will be sent to jail. It's important that abusers are held responsible for their actions and punished, and that the animals they hurt are saved. Even if the abuser is a young person like you, it's important to report him or her. You could be helping more than you ever imagined.

The cruelty connection
Did you know that studies have shown that people who hurt animals often go on to hurt people, become violent, or even commit crimes? Animal cruelty is often a warning sign of someone who is having serious problems, such as mental illness or abuse of their own. If animal abusers can be caught in time, their behavior may be treated and even prevented. In cases like this, both the animal and the person gets the help they need

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