Did you know that World Animal Day is October 4? In honor of this special occasion, we want to inform you about what you can do to stop animal cruelty. These tips will help you to recognize when an animal is being mistreated, tell you where to report the problem, and show you how to fight this kind of abuse in other ways as well.

The only way we can truly stamp out cruelty to animals is if all of us are vigilant and willing to do our part.

Recognizing cruelty

According to the Humane Society, there are two kinds of animal cruelty: direct violence and neglect. Unfortunately, unless you witness something happening, it’s not always clear when something constitutes neglect. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Direct violence. Signs include open wounds, multiple scars, limping, or difficulty walking. Many dogs that suffer direct violence will also display behaviors such as hiding, walking with their head down and tail between their legs, or cringing when people approach, but since those can also occur for other reasons, those behavioral signs alone shouldn’t be taken as definitive proof that a dog is being hurt.
  • Neglect. Most people don’t go so far as to actually lay hands on their dog to hurt them. But what happens with far too many owners is just as bad: they neglect the needs of their dog. Signs of neglect include injuries or illnesses that linger untreated, poor living conditions (including filth and dangerous objects near the dog and being left outside in bad weather), bones being visible through the skin, and extremely poor grooming.

Reporting cruelty

So what do you do if you notice an animal that appears to be suffering from one or more of these issues? Call your local animal welfare agency immediately.

In most areas, someone from the local animal control agency, humane organization, or animal shelter will be responsible for investigating and enforcing the local anti-cruelty laws, but if you don’t know who’s in charge in your city or town, you can always call the local police non-emergency number to find out who to report the cruelty to. Also, in many locales, 311 connects directly to city services, who will know where to direct you.

Fighting cruelty

Of course, the best way to fight cruelty is to teach as many people as possible how their pets should be treated — and what they should never ever do. Parents and educators should teach children how to safely and humanely interact with animals at an early age, as well as how they can tell if an animal is being harmed and what to do about it.

You can help spread the word by utilizing your own community to do so. For instance, you can share messages about proper treatment of animals on your social networks or offer to teach a class at your local elementary school or even pre-school.

Beyond this, people need to stand up for what they believe in when they witness animal cruelty and take a stand by reporting the behavior. The more often that abusive individuals are punished, the less likely others are to do the same thing.

Have you ever reported a case of animal cruelty? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

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