Animal cruelty is not only wrong—it is against the law in every state
in this country! Animal abuse can also be part of a pattern of other violent acts within families and society. Abuse of any
kind should be reported to the appropriate authorities immediately.
For additional information on recognizing and
reporting cruelty, as well as how to talk to children about this important issues, please read our Reporting Cruelty FAQ.
Tips for Reporting
Once you have found out which law enforcement agent you should speak to, it’s important to provide
him or her with a concise, written, factual statement of what you observed, giving dates and approximate times whenever possible.
If at all feasible, try to photograph the abusive situation and date your pictures. It would also be helpful to get short,
factual written statements from other witnesses.
When you call
to report animal cruelty, always make sure to keep a careful record of exactly whom you contact, the date of the contacts
and the content and outcome of your discussion. Never give away a document without making a copy for your file! Make it clear
to the agent that you are very interested in pursuing the case, and that you are willing to lend whatever assistance you can.
Follow Up if Necessary
If you don’t receive a response from the officer assigned to your
case within a reasonable length of time, don’t be afraid to present your information to his or her supervisor and, if
necessary, to local government officials, such as the county commissioner, and ask them to act.
If you have witnessed the cruel act yourself, you can go to your local police commissioner and ask
to swear out a warrant to summon the accused person to court. Remember that expert witnesses are sometimes necessary in animal
cruelty cases. A veterinarian, for example, can sign a statement that it is his or her “expert opinion” that a
dog suffers when hit with a chain, is deprived of food, etc. Expert opinions will very often make or break a case, so if you
happen to know a sympathetic veterinarian, you may wish to seek his or her assistance and tell the officer that you have expert
support lined up for your case.
Animal Cruelty on TV and Film
The ASPCA shares your concern about the media’s depiction of violence and cruelty towards animals for entertainment
purposes. Please know, however, that many of these instances are constitutionally protected free speech—and may not
even involve a real animal.
If you are offended by something
you viewed, we suggest that you contact the network that aired the program or the publisher of the film in question.
You may also wish to contact the American Humane Association Movie and Television Unit online or at (818) 501-0123. This unit oversees the use of live animals in movies
and television as part of an agreement with the Screen Directors Guild.
Websites that Depict Animal Cruelty
The Internet delivers an astounding array of images and ideas into homes
across the world. But not all of these images are particularly animal-friendly. In fact, some of what is being sold and shown
online crosses into the realm of criminal activity. And in some cases, there are laws against showing and selling these images.
To report websites that display acts of cruelty to animals, please contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice