How to recognize animal neglect

While direct violence is the most obvious form of animal cruelty, animal neglect is by far the most common type of abuse to which animal control officers respond. 

Signs of neglect:

A shocking number of animals die from neglect every year, right under the noses of the entire community. If you see an animal in distress don’t assume that someone else will take care of the situation; take action! Pay particular attention to:

      • Chained animals are most likely to die from starvation, dehydration or hypothermia, since their confinement renders them especially vulnerable and helpless.
      • Animals without shelter in extreme heat or cold.
      • Clearly emaciated animals: clearly visible bones and lethargy can be a sign of an untreated, life-threatening medical condition or imminent starvation.
      • Obvious, untreated wounds or other medical conditions: animals who are limping or otherwise demonstrating distress, and animals with multiple patches of missing fur and open sores need treatment.
      • Too many animals living on one property. This can be a sign of animal hoarding.
      • Dogs or cats inside abandoned homes. Reports of companion animals abandoned and left to die inside vacant buildings or apartment units are startlingly common. If you notice a neighbor has moved or has stopped coming around to a residence where you animals live, be extra vigilant.

How to recognize animal neglect

Some dogs bark and whine to express their anxiety when they are left alone, but a dog who is howling or barking for more than a day sending out a clear signal that he’s not being attended to. He may be injured or he may be abandoned. Try to find out if someone is at the residence, and if not, ask the authorities to investigate. If the neglect is ongoing or prolonged, it’s often helpful to document it. You’ll be better able to make your case and persuade authorities to take action if you’ve been able to take daily notes and photographs of the situation.