Ten Ways to Prevent Animal Cruelty
Officer Lucas offers ten important steps to
help you crack down on cruelty in your own
If you're a fan of the award-winning reality
series Animal Precinct, then you've
already seen the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement's
Special Investigator Annemarie Lucas in action.
But did you know that you, too, can help crack
down on animal cruelty in your own community? Read
on for Officer Lucas's take on making the world a
safer place for animals:
Without phone calls from the concerned citizens
who report cruelty in their neighborhoods, we
wouldn't know about most instances of animal
abuse. It all comes from the public, it all starts
with YOU--that's why it's so
important to keep your eyes and ears open. Get to
know and look out for the animals in your
neighborhood. By being aware, you're more likely
to notice, for example, that the dog next door who
was once hefty has lost weight rapidly--a possible
indicator of abuse.
Learn to recognize
animal cruelty. Here are some signs and
symptoms that we see in many of the cases we
Tick or flea infestations. Such a condition,
if left untreated by a veterinarian, can lead to
an animal's death.
Wounds on the body.
Patches of missing hair.
Extremely thin, starving animals.
An owner striking or otherwise physically
abusing an animal.
Dogs who are repeatedly left alone without
food and water, often chained up in a yard.
Dogs who have been hit by cars--or are
showing any of the signs listed above--and have
not been taken to a veterinarian.
Dogs who are kept outside without shelter in
extreme weather conditions.
Animals who cower in fear or act
aggressively when approached by their owners.
Know who to call to
report animal cruelty.
We're lucky here at
the ASPCA in New York City, because we have Humane
Law Enforcement officers who have the power to
investigate and arrest perpetrators of animal
cruelty in the state of New York. But every state
and even every town is different. In some areas,
you may have to rely on the police department to
investigate animal cruelty; in others, you may
have to contact your local animal control or
another municipal agency. If you aren't sure where
to report cruelty, you can search our
Humane Law Enforcement directory online or ask
your local humane organization.
Provide as much as
information as possible when reporting
animal cruelty. The details that you provide can
go a long way toward assisting the investigating
officer. It helps to write down the type of
cruelty that you witnessed, who was involved, the
date of the incident and where it took place.
Call or write your
local law enforcement department and let
them know that investigating animal cruelty should
be a priority. Animal cruelty is a CRIME--and the
police MUST investigate these crimes.
Know your state's
animal cruelty laws.
They vary from state
to state, and even from city to city. You can
ASPCA's website and get a wallet-sized
printout with outlines of the animal welfare laws
in all 50 states.
You can fight for
the passage of strong anti-cruelty laws on
federal, state and local levels by joining the
ASPCA Advocacy Brigade. It's frustrating when
I have built a strong case against someone who has
been arrested for cruelty to animals and the judge
treats it like a simple violation. But with
stronger laws, they'll be more likely to receive
tougher penalties. You'll receive e-mails asking
you to write letters encouraging your legislators
to pass these laws--and you can send them directly
from our website.
Set a good example
for others. If you have pets, be sure to
always show them the love and good care that they
deserve. But it's more than just food, water, and
adequate shelter. If you think your animal is
sick, bring him to the veterinarian. Be
responsible and have your animals spayed or
neutered. And I always give my own pets lots of
hugs when I get home!
Talk to your kids
about how to treat animals with kindness and
respect. I regularly see children in homes
where animal abuse has been reported. If a parent
isn't treating the family's pets right, I tell
kids that their dog or cat would really appreciate
fresh water every day, or if they spent some time
playing with them. If the animal has been left
outside without shelter, I'll say, 'You have a
nice house, and if you get cold, you can put a
coat on. But your dog can't do that. Don't you
think he'd like a nice warm place to go, too?' I
know of families who watch Animal Precinct
together, and I think it can help children realize
that animals are living creatures who have the
ability to feel pain, joy and sadness. You can see
these emotions on the faces of the animals on the
Support your local
shelter or animal rescue organization.
Before I even knew that police for animals
existed, I was volunteering at an animal shelter.
It's a great way to make a difference. Some of our
ASPCA volunteers foster animals who have been
abused in their former homes, giving these dogs
and cats the chance they deserve to have a good
life. You can find a list of shelters and rescue
groups in your area with our
National Shelter Directory.
Article courtesy: The American
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Printed with permission.
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