How do I report animal cruelty?

Witnessing animal cruelty and neglect is a distressing situation.  We're often unsure of what to do or who to contact.  Consider the following tips and resources for reporting animal mistreatment if you believe a violation(s) of animal cruelty or neglect laws is occurring.


  • Familiarize yourself with the local and state animal cruelty/neglect laws.   
    What constitutes animal neglect can be especially ambiguous, so always contact animal regulatory agencies for assistance in interpreting the laws.  The city or county websites are always great resources for this information and who to contact.
  • Document the animal cruelty/neglect you either see or suspect.
    Dated notes with descriptions of the animal(s), their conditions and other factors along with photos can be very helpful to both investigators and criminal prosecutors.
  • As necessary, report your suspicions to more than one agency and conduct follow-up phone calls and emails to ensure the agencies are responding to the situation.  Many investigators are overwhelmed and under staffed for handling animal abuse complaints and cases.  Be persistent and patient when communicating with them.  They have a very hard job.
  • Plan to keep tabs on the animal to monitor its condition.
    Offer assistance to the owner and attempt to educate first.  Your attitude and body language will be an important factor in how your information is received.  If things continue to decline rather than improve, file additional complaints.  Prior to removal of someone's pet, animal control officers first attempt to educate the owners but can also issue fines or press charges on initial visits.  Help these officers by keeping a humane eye on the situation.
  • Be prepared to remain open minded, patient and compassionate.
    Depending upon the severity of these situations, time and persistence may be the only method to affect a positive change for the animal.  Remember everything you do to help does make an important difference in the lives of these animals and no endeavor is too small.

    If you believe no violation(s) of animal cruelty or neglect are occurring, but know the animal could benefit from better overall treatment, below are some considerations for these situations.
  • Try to find out why the care is less than ideal. 
    Rather than approaching the neighbor with condemnation, ask why the dog is always tied out or why their cats never seem to gain weight.  Is it lack of caring, lack of knowledge or resources or are there extenuating circumstances placing roadblocks to better quality care of their pets.
  • Serve as a living humane example!
    Demonstrate kind and responsible animal care toward your own pets and toward the animals you wish to help.  Offer compassionate education and assistance to people needing it via friendly conversation, educational materials, and local city handouts to low cost spay/neuter programs in their area.
  • Organize caring citizens in your city and state to pass laws regulating animal cruelty issues.
    Dog chaining/tethering is a perfect example of breaking a state law in Texas.  We believe it should be illegal everywhere.
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