How to Report Animal Cruelty
What information should I have on hand when I make a report of animal cruelty?
We need the facts, so please provide us with as many details as you can:
- Address/location where you have observed the neglect or abuse.
- Situation – how many animals, types of animals, what did you observe.
- Suspect(s) name(s) if known
If you can also provide the following, it will assist significant in the investigation:
- A concise, written, factual statement of what you observed—giving dates and approximate times whenever possible
- Photographs of the location, the animals in question and the surrounding area. However, please do not put yourself in danger! Do not enter another person’s property without permission, and exercise great caution around unfamiliar animals who may be frightened or in pain.
- If you can, provide law enforcement with the names and contact information of other people who have firsthand information about the abusive situation.
Remember, never give away a document without making a copy for yourself!
Can I remain anonymous when I file a complaint about animal cruelty?
Yes, you can, and it is better to file an anonymous report than to do nothing—but please consider providing your information to the agency taking the complaint. These agencies have limited resources, and the case is more likely to be pursued when there are credible witnesses willing to stand behind the report and, if necessary, testify in court about what they may have witnessed. However, many cases do not require testimony and can be dealt with/by the humane officer alone.
Anonymous call are accepted, but it is extremely helpful if you leave a phone number in case we need to ask additional questions or get more information. All information is kept confidential.
If I report my suspicions that a neighbor is committing animal cruelty, and that person’s animal is taken away and put in a shelter, isn’t the animal worse off?
It’s important to understand that reporting cruelty is always the right thing to do. Because of the burden it places on the system, animal control officers do not want to remove an animal from a home unless absolutely necessary. If an animal is taken from his or her owner, there was a substantial problem. A seized animal will have the chance to get the necessary help, whether that help is nutritional, medical or behavioral. Also, if an intervention by law enforcement leads to a conviction, you may inadvertently have helped spare other animals from the same abuse.
How should I follow up on my report of animal cruelty?
When you report animal cruelty, it’s a good idea to keep a careful record of exactly whom you contacted, the date of the contacts, copies of any documents you provided to law enforcement or animal control, and the content and outcome of your discussion. This will make following up much easier.
If you do not receive a response from the officer assigned to your case within a reasonable length of time, make a polite follow-up call to inquire about the progress of the investigation. As a last resort, and only if you are reasonably certain that no action has been taken on your complaint, you may wish to contact a supervisory officer or a local or state government official to request action.
Please keep in mind that most law enforcement agencies operate with limited personnel and resources. Most of these agencies are doing their best to conduct timely and efficient investigations. We ask that anyone involved with an animal cruelty report to be respectful of the challenges our Humane Officers face. Giving them the benefit of the doubt when appropriate will likely get you much further than premature complaints to their superiors.
Do the local police help with reports of cruelty?
Yes, the police can investigate and cite for cruelty. In some situations, contacting the police first will help with getting a quick response – for example, pets that are locked in vehicles during hot or cold season. If you witness this situation – you should contact the local police .
If you would like to report animal abuse, neglect or cruelty, you must contact the SPCA at (570) 825-4111 extension 3. Please note we do respect the confidentiality of those trying to help.