While working as a cruelty case coordinator at our local
humane society, the one phone call that I always hated to get was the
one that started out “I saw my neighbor beating his dog, and I think
that is awful, but what can I do?” The answer: much more than you think!
Here are the steps to take when you want to help an
1). KNOW YOUR LAWS, then call your local police
department. Most states have laws against animal cruelty of any kind.
Sometimes, your local police department will tell you “It is out of our
hands, call animal control”. In some cases, this may be true, but not
always. Before you need to call, find out your state’s animal cruelty
statute, and know it cold. For example, in Florida, the statute that
speaks to animal cruelty is F.S. 828.012. This statute says that if an
animal is being beaten, mistreated, neglected, etc., the person
responsible can be guilty of a felony. Not all police officers know
this, and if you call and get a response like the one above, you should
immediately respond with “According to F.S. 828.012, this person should
be arrested and charged with a felony, so why is it out of your hands?”
Usually, that will get you some attention.
2). GET THE NAME of anyone you speak to at either the
police department or animal control. Always get the name of the person
on the other end of the line. Psychologically, their having to give you
a name puts responsibility on them to do the right thing. Also record
the time and date of the phone call(s). Ask for the name of the person’s
immediate supervisor as well, although before you call you should know
the name of the director of your local animal control, and/or the name
of the police chief or sheriff. Knowing that name, and casually dropping
it in your conversation will give you an edge. IE: I just know that
Chief Sourpuss is very intolerant of crimes against animals and will
want to follow up on this.”
3). GET DATE/TIME that action will be taken. Ask “When
will an officer be able to look into this?” and then call back. Wait a
day or two, and call back, ask to speak to the person that took the
report, and tell them that you are following up on your previous
conversation. If nothing has been done, ask to speak to a supervisor.
4). YOU MUST FOLLOW THROUGH, the animals cannot speak
for themselves, and you were put in a position to see/hear/witness the
act(s) of violence or neglect. If you are “blown off” or given endless
excuses, call your Mayor, town manager, county commissioner and local
television stations. I guarantee that if you call an elected official
with your complaint, you will get results.
5). FORGET ANONYMITY, this is an emergency. So many
times I hear the excuse that people want to stay anonymous because “this
is my neighbor and I don’t want them to know that I ratted them out”.
This is perfectly understandable, and you can request anonymity when you
make your complaint, but sometimes, testimony and witness statements are
absolutely necessary for prosecution. Talk to some of your neighbors,
they may be willing to step forward with you, there is might in numbers.
Be a hero, not a coward, you will be glad that you did.
Go on to Profit
From A Company Who Supports Animal Rights
Return to 15 August 1999 Issue
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