Even though it is extremely important to prevent cruelty to animals all year long, April is a special month because it is the ASPCA’S official Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month! Every year, the ASPCA asks supporters to celebrate this month by helping raise awareness about important issues facing animals. One of the most important parts of combating cruelty to animals is knowing the signs of abuse and what to do if you suspect an animal is being abused.  

What to look out for?

Here are some signs and symptoms seen in many of the cases investigated:

  • Tick or flea infestations.
  • Wounds on the body.
  • Patches of missing hair.
  • Extremely thin, starving animals.
  • Limping.
  • An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal.
  • Dogs who are repeatedly left alone without food and water, often chained up in a yard.
  • Dogs who are showing any of the signs listed above-and have not been taken to a veterinarian.
  • Dogs who are kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions.
  • Animals who cower in fear or act aggressively when approached by their owners.

 What to do?

Here are the proper steps to take when you suspect an animal is being abused:

  • Speak up: Report animal cruelty, notify local law enforcement or your state’s local humane, animal control or animal shelter organizations immediately.
  • Document the details: Tell the officer as many details of the situation as you can: the location, date, time and descriptions of the people and animals involved. Video and photographic documentation – even a mobile phone photo – can help bolster the case. Provide names of others who may have witnessed the incident. Remain on the scene until authorities arrive, if you can do so safely.
  • Prepare to testify: While you may remain anonymous, the case will be much stronger if you’re willing to identify yourself and testify to what you witnessed. A human witness is crucial for building a strong, prosecutable case.

If you see an animal in distress, don’t assume that someone else will take care of the situation. Animals can’t speak for themselves; it’s up to you to speak for them.