WARNING: what you need to know about animal cruelty

This is a very difficult subject to write about especially since it triggers a bodily emotional response of various sorts when writing it, reading it, or telling it, and none of the emotional reactions are pleasant.

Even though it is not a pleasant topic to communicate, the fact that it is being told illustrates there is a need to do so and if it causes you to be more aware and maybe take some positive action when necessary it is then certainly worthwhile.

We are talking about abuse as a result of ignorance, benign neglect or acts of omission, indifference to suffering, and even acts of commission along with the pleasure in inflicting it upon people, dogs, cats and other pets.

The perpetrators of animal cruelty often portray themselves as kindly animal lovers. These people are some of our neighbors, friends of our associates and the people we do business with.

It’s hard to identify a person capable of committing unfathomable crimes of abuse against our voiceless pets. In the extreme case, animal abuse becomes a precursor to human-directed violence, and left untreated or dealt with it can escalate into further horrendous consequences.

We all must be aware of the signs and be willing to take action when it is suspected or witnessed, whether we are capable of doing so ourselves by educating the pet owner and then checking the situation for improvements, or by seeking the help of authorities and professionals such as your local police or SPCA. With your other important phone numbers, keep the necessary phone numbers handy in case you see a pet you don’t know or an animal that needs assistance.

You can help by being observant. Look for these unacceptable common signs of the abused or neglected:

(1) Dogs that cower fearfully or act aggressively when owners come near
(2) People not providing adequate care
(3) People kicking, hitting or physically abusing an animal
(4) Animals left without food, water or shelter, especially in extreme weather
(5) Animals kept under dirty conditions, such as standing in their own urine and excrement in confined areas
(6) Animals left in cars on hot (heat stroke) or cold days
(7) Proper veterinary care is not obtained
(8) Emaciation, no visible body fat, obvious loss of muscle mass
(9) Very thin, top of backbone visible, pelvic bones becoming prominent
(10) Grossly obese, massive fat deposits on chest, spine, and base of tail
(11) Severely overgrown nails curling under or curling upwards
(12) Severe flea or tick infestations left untreated
(13) Signs of ear infection, i.e. excessive scratching of the ear area, shaking of the head, dirt or discharge
(14) Wounds on the body
(15) Swellings, tumors or abscesses left untreated
(16) Limping
(17) Infected eyes left untreated
(18) Allowing a collar to grow into an animal’s skin
(19) Patches of missing hair
(20) Take notice and be aware of barking, whimpering, meowing or scratching from inside a home after the resident has moved

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4 Responses to “WARNING: what you need to know about animal cruelty”


  1. 1 Judy Tervalon January 21, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you for all the information. How much help can the SPCA give when there budget have been cut by $200,000?

    • 2 callofthedog January 21, 2009 at 8:10 pm

      Dear Judy,

      Thanks for taking the time to offer a comment. It’s greatly appreciated. All animal lovers would share your concern as to the subject of budget cuts. However, the core mission of the SPCA is manned by animal loving people whose first priority is to rescue the abused. We think between the SPCA and local authorities, there will be enough caring individuals to come running when the rescue is needed. Other expenditures may be curtailed, but rescues can take place. Let’s hope that’s the case.

  2. 3 Irma Nance January 25, 2009 at 3:47 am

    I give whenever possible to ASPCA, PETA, and North Shore in New York.
    I work in a school and many students lack compassion for animals. I truly think the top organizations have to try to get into the schools during ‘Violence Week”, a perfect time to address violence towards animals which many times grows to violence towards humans.


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