Animal cruelty can take many different forms ranging from neglect such as not providing an animal with necessary food, water, shelter or vet care or deliberate abuse such as beatings, injuring or worse, all the way up to premeditated cruelty like dog fighting. Cruelty in any form causes suffering. Animals who die of prolonged neglect can suffer just as much as animals who are deliberately harmed.

It is important to look at the animals and their environment to get a better determination if cruelty is taking place.  Aggressive, fearful or timid behavior can occur for many reasons and doesn’t always mean the animal is a victim of cruelty, and a pet that may look unhealthy, may be being actively treated for a medical condition.

Physical signs of abuse:

  • Witnessed beating or other signs of physical abuse
  • Pets with chronic injuries or medical conditions that go untreated
  • New injuries in addition to healing injuries or injuries attributed to unknown causes
  • Limping or the inability to walk or stand normally
  • Extreme weakness
  • Visibly emaciated or severely underweight
  • Heavy discharge from eyes or nose
  • Visible signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness
  • Collar is so tight it is causing a would or is embedded in the animal’s neck
  • Untreated skin conditions, loss of hair, scaly skin, bumps or rashes
  • Tick, flea or other external parasite infestation
  • Matted fur, overgrown nails, dirty coat
  • Pets that cower and/or act aggressively to their owners and/or ALL people

Environmental signs of abuse:

  • Pets that are kept outside (chained/tethered) for long periods of time without adequate food, water or shelter from elements, including shade from the sun.
  • Pets that are regularly left alone for long periods of time without food or water
  • Pets kept outside in inclement weather without access to adequate and protective shelter
  • Pets subjected to filthy living conditions and/or forced to live in garbage and/or dangerous objects
  • Pets are kept in overcrowded cages/kennels
  • Pets kept in cages/kennels that aren’t big enough to allow them to stand, turn around and make normal movements

Other warning signs that should raise suspicion:

  • Pet owners who constantly have new puppies or kittens, but not adult or aging pets
  • Multiple injured animals at the same house
  • Several dogs chained on a property or hidden in out of the way places

If you know or suspect that an animal is being neglected or abused, or if there are signs of dog fighting operations, contact your local authorities.  If you are able to safely obtain video and photographs, please do so as supporting evidence. But do not put yourself in danger.

Do you know the cruelty statues of your state? Click here to find out your state animal protection laws.