What to Do When You Witness Animal Cruelty

These are my sweet babies, Gizmo and Elsa. <3 (Not the subjects of this post,  obviously )

These are my sweet babies, Gizmo and Elsa. <3 (Not the subjects of this post, obviously)

Today’s post is a bit of an educate-yourself blog… with some ranting and frustration too, because seeing animals neglected and abused is worth ranting about.

I’ve recently been faced with the fact that I have ZERO tolerance for people who neglect their pets.

I guess my zero tolerance isn’t surprising, but I didn’t realize how FIRED UP it got me until I was face-to-face with a loved one and it hit me that they genuinely felt justified in their acts of animal cruelty.

Like, to the point that I’m moving out- because I finally opened my eyes to the fact that my roommate didn’t just not have boundaries… and he wasn’t just taking advantage of the fact that I’d never leave his dogs to suffer… he actually never even thought about me in the situation, he just genuinely didn’t care if his animals routinely went 2-3 days without food and water. It was a laughing matter to him. “Oh, damn I forgot. Yeah, I really need to take better care of my dogs.”

Um, yeah asshole, you do.

((Want more drama details: He then told me he’d water his dogs if I bought a shock collar for mine within the next 30 days. OHHHHHH THE FIRE. This girl went OFF.))

ANYway, I’ve lived in this situation for over a year now, watching this guy not care about his animals and assuming it was because he knew I’d do it. Ultimately though, it’s just not a big deal to him if the animals go a while without food and water. In fact, he’s really proud because his massive dobermanns can go 2 full days without food and will still be complacent and obedient, and not aggressive toward him. Yeah, he thinks that’s a cool status thing. We’re talking about a real jerk here.

Something I’ve been struggling with though, is how can I make sure the animals are cared for when I’m gone. Moving day is in about 9 days (and I am SO ready), but what’s going to happen to these animals when this guy has nobody to see the neglect and call him out on it? (Which, by the way, he feels was an attack on his character, rather than an appropriate response of outrage to animal cruelty and an actual crime.)

So, hopefully you didn’t wait as long to start doing the research and realize the situation you’re in.
And just in case, here’s what you can do when you have information about an animal being neglected or abused.

First, the difference. You can Google definitions any time, so I’ll keep it brief. Neglect is more passive. It’s leaving them in cages for excessive periods of time, denying them food and water, failing to provide basic care when they are badly injured, etc. Neglect is typically failure to act. Abuse is more direct. It’s hitting, fighting, or harming the animal actively and intentionally in some way.

1 | Get the animal safe (protect yourself first, though!)

The first thing I did for this situation was provide the care for the animals- but it was safe for me to do so. Keep in mind that if you do not know an animal, are not allowed on the property, etc. this may be a job for law enforcement.

2 | Speak with the owner (if it’s safe to do so)

The second thing I did was talk to the owner. If it is safe to do so, this is a great way to go about it… In my case, it ended up being the end of a living arrangement and our relationship went sour. People don’t like being accused of abuse or neglect. I truly believe most people adore and take pride in their pets- but what they don’t understand is that real love doesn’t neglect and abuse. Not in relationships, not in families, and not when it comes to animals. If it is safe to do so and isn’t likely to result in further harm to the animals, this may be a good route for resolving the situation.

3 | Involve Law Enforcement or Animal Control

This step may be your first move if you don’t know the owner or the animal or if it is not a safe situation for you to step in personally. Calls to law enforcement may lead to them checking up on the animal, kind of like a wellness check when child abuse is reported. If you suspect abuse but aren’t sure, this is one way you can help the animal and ensure they are taken care of. If nothing is wrong, the owner won’t be in any trouble and everyone can go back to their business.

If something illegal is happening in the home, law enforcement is then responsible for enforcing the law, and the burden is no longer on your shoulders.

The most important thing I’d like to stress is that, to many people, animals are property, like a chair or a TV… and they CAN’T speak for themselves.

So whatever is happening, it’s up to YOU to speak up, because if you don’t that animal might go their entire life being neglected or abused. It takes less than 5 minutes to make the call. It can be done anonymously. There are ways to protect yourself from retaliation or backlash, and still get the animal taken care of. Please have a heart and speak up for the animals who can’t.

We can’t change the whole world. We can’t just steal the animals away from everyone who mistreats them… but if you have an opportunity to see an animal in pain and take care of them, DO IT.

And let go of the excuse that someone is a “nice guy” except for how they treat their animals.

Establish a zero tolerance policy for that. Honestly, abusing a puppy isn’t that big of a leap from abusing a child, so why is there any question about whether this is a big deal? As someone who has survived child neglect and knows what that feels like, and who knows every abuser she’s ever met has abused animals as well, I beg you to please speak up. Have the courage, use your voice. Be the change you wish to see, and don’t let them belittle you for being kind. Not even kind, for being a decent human being.

That is all for today’s rant. Thank you. Please help us to make the world better, you beautiful human.

P.S. Wondering what I’m going to do to make sure the animals stay safe when I move out? I’ll be calling animal control and telling them the full situation, being transparent about the fact that they probably will be taken care of for a couple days and maybe even a few weeks while the owner is feeling motivated and really defensive because I called him out, but that they do sporadically end up going days without food and water and I don’t believe the situation is going to change over the long-term. Honestly, I don’t know how law enforcement can handle this situation, because they need proof to be able to remove the dogs, but hopefully their visit and contacting the owner will be motivation enough for him to step it up and be a better dog-owner or surrender the animals he’s not willing to provide basic care for. At this point, I’ve done all I can do and I’m getting myself and my own pets away from someone who things neglect is a funny competition for “how long will it take them to get aggressive?” Thank you, next.