How to Report Animal Abuse

Three Parts:Observing and EvaluatingMaking Your ReportObserving and Reporting Non-Domestic Animal Abuse

Abuse and violence to any creature, large or small, animal or human, is a horrendous crime that should be stopped. Animal abuse, however, is often difficult to recognize and stop. By following some basic steps, you can help report problems and help the authorities take action.

Part 1
Observing and Evaluating

  1. Image titled Report Animal Abuse Step 1
    Be aware of signs of abuse. Recognizing abuse is not as easy as it would seem. Aggressive, timid or skittish behavior can be but is not always an indicator of abuse. The best way, according to ASPCA's experts, is to observe animal’s treatment by its owner and its surrounding environment. These are examples of typical signs of abuse.[1][2]
    • Physical signs of cruelty
      • Wounds on the body or signs of injury not being treated
      • Patches of missing fur/hair.
      • Limping, weakness, or the inability to stand or walk normally
      • An owner striking or otherwise abusing an animal
      • Overly tight collar embedded in the animal's neck
      • Visible signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness
    • Environmental signs of abuse
      • Pets that are left repeatedly alone without food/water, often chained
      • Pets that are kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions
      • Pets kept in an unsanitary enclosure
      • Animals kept in cages or kennels that are either overly crowded or too small
    • Signs of neglect
      • Tick or flea infestations left untreated
      • Extremely thin/starving animals
      • Signs of inadequate grooming, poor coat condition, extremely long nails
      • Heavy discharge from eyes or nose
      • Animals that show signs of injury but have not been taken to a veterinarian
  2. Image titled Report Animal Abuse Step 2
    Research your local animal care agencies. Every locality has different laws or agencies that deal with animal abuse. Do some research online or simply in the telephone book to find some of your options. You may also contact your own veterinarian to find out what agencies are available in your area. Some examples to look for:[3]
    • Local police. Either call the main non-emergency desk number, or find out if there is a separate animal control officer. Do not call the emergency 9-1-1 number unless you are aware of particular abuse that is actually in progress that you need to report.
    • Your county District Attorney’s office. You will often find there is a special department assigned to crimes against animals.[4]
    • Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). This is a national organization, but there are state branches that include the name (and initial) of the state:
      • MSPCA – Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals[5]
      • NJSPCA – New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals[6]
      • Check the Internet for your state or local branch of the SPCA.
    • Humane Society
    • Other online sources – just do a general search online for “Animal abuse in [your state].” This should give you plenty of options.
  3. Image titled Report Animal Abuse Step 3
    Collect evidence. If possible, try to get photographic, video, or other recorded evidence of the abuse happening. If you can, try getting written/factual statements from other witnesses. If not, write down everything you know, witnessed, or even think you know about the abuse.[7] Concise/factual details/dates will be valuable.
    • Be careful not to put yourself in danger or break any laws. You are not allowed to trespass or enter another person’s property. Assume that the owner who is committing the abuse could be just as dangerous toward you as he or she is to the animals, and don’t put yourself at risk.[8]

Part 2
Making Your Report

  1. Image titled Report Animal Abuse Step 4
    Make the call. Now that you know who to contact in the event of abuse, do so! Provide them with factual statements (preferably written.) of what was seen, what happened, where it happened, when it happened, how it happened, etc. If you have any videos, pictures, recordings, etc., offer them to whomever you speak to.
  2. Image titled Report Animal Abuse Step 5
    Report online. Many agencies have computerized reporting systems that will take your report online. You may have the opportunity to upload any video or photos you have taken. You will be encouraged to provide as much detail as you can about the incident you are reporting.[9]
    • If you don't wish to meet an agent or be involved in the case you can do anonymously, but the case would best be pursued if there was a credible witness. If your report leads to an arrest and prosecution, you may be asked to testify.[10]
  3. Image titled Report Animal Abuse Step 6
    Keep records. After you have filed your report, keep written precise record of who you spoke to, when you spoke to them, and what the outcome of that discussion was. If nothing came of it or if you were brushed off try contacting someone else, ask to speak to a supervisor, or, if not already there, contact the local police.[11]
  4. Image titled Report Animal Abuse Step 7
    Follow up. If you don't receive a reply in a reasonable amount of time (a week or so), call back, or contact another agency.[12]

Part 3
Observing and Reporting Non-Domestic Animal Abuse

  1. Image titled Report Animal Abuse Step 8
    Report abuses you see online. If you see evidence over the Internet of animal abuse, either in video or photographs, you should treat it just as seriously as if you witness abuse in person. There are several ways to report such abuse.
    • Use to track the web site. If the animal abuse is seen on a particular web site, you can go to to enter information about that site and find out background information about it. This may be useful information to report to authorities.[13]
    • Contact the site's Internet Service Provider (ISP) about the offensive material. The ISP may be able to take action to close or shut down the site.
    • Contact the police or other law enforcement in the area where the abuse is occurring (if you know).
    • Contact the Humane Society or SPCA, either in the area where the abuse is occurring or in your own area.
  2. Image titled Report Animal Abuse Step 9
    Report abuses that you see depicted in movies, on television or other media. Even though, very often, these may not be actual instances of abuse using real animals, you can report scenes that you find offensive or suggestive of animal abuse.[14]
    • Contact the network that aired the program you saw.
    • Contact the publisher of any print media depicting animal abuse.
    • Contact the American Humane Association Movie and Television Unit online or at (818) 501-0123.
  3. Image titled Report Animal Abuse Step 10
    Report abuses that you see commercially. This may include overcrowding conditions or poor animal care at a pet store or breeder. In addition to all the other resources (police, SPCA, Humane Society), you can contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You will be referred to a regional department to submit a written complaint. The telephone number to call is (301) 851-3751, or you may send a direct email to[15]


  • Do not enter another person's property without express permission.
  • Keep copies of any documents or evidence you collect.
  • Be extremely careful around hurt/scared animals.

Article Info

Categories: Animal Welfare Activism