Skip to main content

How to help prevent animal cruelty in your community: 5 simple ways

Few issues are as harrowing and heartbreaking as animal cruelty and neglect. An animal is abused every 60 seconds, with dogs making up around 65% of abuse cases. There are 86,400 seconds in a 24-hour period, which means roughly 1,440 animals face abuse every single day. The vast majority of these cases go unreported or underreported to law enforcement agencies or media outlets. 



What You Need

  • Yourself

  • A phone

  • Contact info for the local authorities

If you're as frustrated as we are, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We're not saying animal cruelty prevention is easy, but the following tips can help you recognize the signs of abuse and neglect.

A brown dog behind a chain link fence.
Lucas Pezeta from Pexels

Recognizing animal abuse

When facing an issue as distressing as animal abuse, it's easy to let your emotions get the better of you. It's also normal to wonder how to stop animal abuse when it's so prevalent. As it turns out, ending animal abuse starts with knowledge. 

According to the Humane Society, "Animal cruelty encompasses a range of behaviors harmful to animals, from neglect to malicious killing." 

While negligence is far more challenging to spot, you may not always recognize the signs of violent abuse at first glance. Here are a few tips abusers don't want you to know. 

Negligent abuse

Arguably the most common form of animal abuse, negligence is so insidious because it can be difficult to spot. Signs of neglect you may notice include poor living conditions, including animals left (or even chained) outside during extreme temperatures and storms.  

Neglect can sometimes look like violence, making it difficult to know the severity of an animal's situation. Untreated injuries, infections, and a disheveled appearance all indicate negligence. Animals subjected to neglect may also be extremely thin, dirty, or covered in mange. 


Although it's not frequently discussed as a form of animal cruelty, hoarding creates an unsafe environment for animals. If an individual hoards animals, they are often unable to care for them adequately. Unfortunately, hoarding is frequently tricky to uncover, as most hoarders are unlikely to invite company into their homes to witness their behavior. 

Violent abuse

Unless you witness abuse firsthand, it's not always easy to know when an animal is being abused. Visible signs that may indicate abuse include overt shows of submissive behavior, such as whimpering, tucking the tail between the legs, rolling onto the back, and urination. 

If a formerly friendly animal avoids contact or flinches, there's reason to suspect abuse. Snapping, snarling, and attempting to scratch could mean the animal is being abused. Unexplained injuries like visibly broken bones, open wounds, and limping are additional cues you should look out for. 

Why is animal abuse so concerning?

In addition to the most obvious cause for concern — the suffering of an innocent animal — animal abuse is often a sign of domestic abuse. A study conducted by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northeastern University discovered that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to abuse humans.

Several brown dogs behind a chain link fence.
Pranidchakan Boonrom from Pexels

Reporting animal cruelty

Witnessing animal cruelty is always distressing, but it also grants you the ability to act immediately. If your city or town has an animal control agency, you should contact it as soon as possible. If there is no such organization locally — or you don't know the number — you can call 911 to report the abuse if you feel the animal is in immediate danger. You can also contact the Humane Society's Animal Rescue Team for assistance. 

If you can do so without endangering yourself, intervene on the animal's behalf. If that's not possible, take photos or video of the incident or its aftermath. Document the time, date, and location of the incident as accurately as possible. This will make informing authorities much easier. 

A Beagle in a cage.
Hilary Halliwell from Pexels

How you can fight against animal cruelty

As important as it is to report abuse, the battle against animal cruelty doesn't end there. Here are five steps you can take to help combat animal abuse in your community. 

Step 1: Teach your children to care for animals

The first step is to teach kids how to care for animals properly. Help kids learn how to be responsible pet owners when they're young, and they'll be much more likely to advocate for animal welfare as adults.   

Step 2: Make personal changes

The next thing you can do right now is make changes within your home. Companies use 500,000 animals in cosmetic testing worldwide every year, including mice, rabbits, cats, and dogs. Over 55 billion land and sea animals die each year for our food supply. Consider making the switch to cruelty-free products and reducing or eliminating your consumption of meat. 

Step 3: Consider fostering or adopting animals in need

Next, if you are able, foster an animal. Fostering saves lives. If you know someone who can't provide adequate care for their animals, consider taking them in if you have the resources to do so. Shelters are always looking for foster families to care for orphaned kittens, frightened dogs, and others who may need a bit of extra care.

Step 4: Support tough legislation

Animal abuse is punishable by law in all 50 states, though some states are much tougher on abusers than others. Throwing your weight behind stricter animal abuse laws helps ensure those who hurt defenseless animals have to face the consequences of their actions. 

Step 5: Speak out against animal cruelty

Lastly, use your voice. As we mentioned, if you see an animal suffering abuse, speak up. In addition, most of us use one social media platform or another. Follow local animal shelters and protection agencies on social media and share their posts. 

You can make a stand against animal cruelty in your community. Supporting strict legislation, sharing information on how to properly care for animals, and reporting suspected animal abuse are all essential steps to stopping cruelty in its tracks. We may not be able to save them all, but we owe it to the animals to try. 

Editors' Recommendations

PawTracks Contributor
PawTracks Contributor
Does your pet need to visit the dentist? Here’s how a dog teeth cleaning works
It seems scary but they won't feel or remember a thing
Doctor cleaning dog's teeth with toothbrush indoors

In theory, we all go to the dentist every six months to get our teeth cleaned, which helps keep the pearly whites in check and also contributes to overall health. Surprisingly, our pets also benefit from annual (or biennial) dental treatments. While these cleanings do wonders for your dog's teeth, they can make owners nervous and burn a hole in their wallets to boot. Here's why you should schedule regular cleanings for your pup.
How do I know if my dog's teeth need cleaning?
Unless it's a really severe case, you probably can't tell just by looking. Instead, your vet will take a peek in your animal's mouth during their yearly checkup. Your pet's doctor may give your furry friend a dental grade between 0 and 4, with 0 being reserved for puppies that have perfect teeth and 4 meaning Fido will likely require more advanced care, including extractions. Once you have the assessment, you can better determine if your pup needs a cleaning, but it's frequently recommended.
What happens during a dental cleaning
Some of that depends on the grade and your specific beast, but the gist of it stays the same. The main thing is not to worry too much because your little guy will be well cared for, and even though there's always some risk to anesthesia, this is a routine procedure.
Getting your pup ready
Before you even begin, you should get pre-op blood work done to make sure they can handle being under anesthesia. Have your vet discuss any outside-of-range findings and figure out the best way forward. Some older dogs develop kidney and liver problems, and your dog doc might decide that a cleaning isn't worth the risk.
Prepping for the cleaning
Your little guy will likely fast leading up to treatment (just as you would if you were going in for surgery). When you arrive, your vet will go over the schedule and almost certainly give them a once-over to confirm they're ready. Then they will get a sedative in preparation to go under. Figure out what time you need to pick them up and then try to distract yourself for a few hours.
During the procedure
Most vets will take X-rays, clean the teeth, and perform extractions as necessary. Don't worry — your pet will be fully asleep and will not remember or feel a thing. If they do need any teeth pulled, they might get additional shots during the visit (again, just as you would get Novocaine while getting your mouth done). Your vet may also take this opportunity to clip their nails (since they are asleep), if necessary.
If your dog had to have any work above a cleaning, you'll have a couple of meds to administer, such as pain medication and antibiotics. Follow the dosage carefully, especially if you're dealing with strong meds like codeine. In some circumstances, they may have to wear the cone of shame to prevent scratching at their mouth.
How else can you help your dog's oral hygiene?
There's a lot you can do as the pet parent in between cleanings. Consider brushing their teeth, giving doggie dental chews, putting an additive in their water, or putting them on prescription food if the issues are really severe.

The most important thing is to stay on top of your furry friend's oral health, just like you would with any other issues. That often means not feeding them human food, which can cause decay, and providing dry dog food or even dog bones to chew. As long as you stick with the routine, hopefully, you won't need too much extra detail care.

Read more
Here are 60 cute dog names for every aesthetic: cottagecore, grunge, Y2K, and more
These unique dog names are inspired by aesthetics, like barbiecore
A corgi dog standing in front of a pink background looks up and to the side with big eyes

If you spend enough time on social media -- particularly sites like Tumblr, Pinterest, or TikTok -- you'll become at least somewhat familiar with "aesthetics." These are moods or styles that influence art, clothing and decor choices, and even what someone posts online. Any vibe can be an aesthetic if it drives your style choices, so why not let your favorite aesthetics inspire your new dog's name as well?
These canine monikers range from timeless to eccentric (and everything in between), but they all have one thing in common: They're all sure to put a smile on your face. Whether they remind you of something adorable, something nostalgic, or something totally epic, these cute dog names are the perfect wealth of information to start your search with.

Cottagecore dog names inspired by the cute, woodsy aesthetic that's trending right now
Of all the popular aesthetics on the internet right now, cottagecore is arguably the most popular. These vibes can be described as natural, romantic, and vintage -- and they're just about every gardener's dream come true. If you've ever imagined yourself tending a garden and knitting a sweater in the English countryside or foraging for mushrooms in the forest with your animal companion, this aesthetic might be for you.

Read more
These are the 10 most popular cat breeds, as counted by The Cat Fanciers’ Association
Here are the top 10 most popular cat breeds in the world
A Devon Rex cat is held up against a blue sky

The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) recognizes 46 different feline breeds, but not all of them can be the most popular. That's why the CFA took a look into its registries to determine the top 10 most popular cat breeds of 2022. It welcomes registrations from "nonstandard" and "non-pedigreed" cats as well, but those feline friends weren't included in this particular count.

Which types of cats do you think were the most popular in 2022? Whether you can list off every breed or can't even name one, we guarantee there's at least one surprise on this list.

Read more