Newsletter - Animal Writes © sm
15 August 1999 Issue

Blow The Whistle On Abusers
By Michelle Rivera, [email protected]


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 abused animal.

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.

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