7 Warning Signs of Animal Cruelty to Watch For

Animal abuse is often linked to other forms of family or community violence, according to experts.

Courtesy of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
Courtesy of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
The following is a community contribution from the Animal Rescue League of Boston. It originally appeared on Charlestown Patch.  

As part of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, ARL encourages public to report concerns to local authorities.

During Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month this April, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) wants to help the public better understand the importance of reporting suspected animal cruelty to local authorities.

“All too often, animal cruelty remains undiscovered,” explains Mary Nee, president of ARL. “By many estimates, four out of five cases remain concealed from authorities. Public awareness and reporting suspicions of animal cruelty play a critical role in prevention.”

According to the National Link Coalition, a strong connection exists between animal abuse and other forms of family and community violence. Law enforcement agencies including the International Association of Chiefs of Police have also expressed concern about the relationship between animal cruelty, domestic violence, child and elder abuse, and other violent crimes.

“Breaking the self-perpetuating cycle of violence, protecting animals, and creating safe, humane communities has to be a priority for us all,” adds Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, vice president of animal welfare at the ARL.

During Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month, pick up an emergency contact card from an ARL animal shelter in Boston, Brewster, and Dedham.

While most members of the public recognize that punching, kicking, burning, choking, or hitting an animal with an object are acts of animal cruelty, there are also more subtle signs to watch for that could indicate mistreatment, neglect, or abuse. 

To help the public better understand the issue, the ARL offers 7 warning signs of animal cruelty:

1. Howling or barking for a sustained period of time or hearing an animal cry in pain with higher pitched, more persistent vocal sounds than usual.

2. Singed, matted, chronically or excessively dirty hair or fur.

3. Wounds, unusual scars, hair loss, frequent limping often on different legs, or signs of improper nutrition such as weight loss or prominent visible ribs.

4. Animals kept caged or tied with little room to move for long periods of time or without regular interaction with people.

5. Lack of protection from the weather or fece- or debris-strewn living areas for animals.

6. Collars, leashes, or halters so tight they visibly dig into the animal’s face or neck.

7. A large number of animals coming or going from a property.

If you know or suspect animal cruelty, Nee says contact your local authorities as quickly as possible: “We can all give a voice to victims of animal cruelty if, when we see something, we say something to local law enforcement.”

 Visit an ARL animal shelter in Boston, Brewster or Dedham in April to pick-up a “See Something, Say Something” emergency contact card. Learn more about preventing animal cruelty at arlboston.org/take-action.

How are you helping to create awareness of preventing animal cruelty this month? Let us know in the comments how you've helped animals or why this cause matters to you!

Brian N April 13, 2014 at 12:14 AM
That's funny Mike, that sounds like more than the right wants gun owners to go through to own a fire arm...
joan e. price April 13, 2014 at 10:35 AM
Janice Vee, this situation is more complex. I had reported him to the police and they did nothing. I then spoke directly to him. My concern here is the Judiciary approving animal abuse.
Sandy Murphey April 13, 2014 at 12:27 PM
Joan, if your concern is the Judiciary, then you could identify the judiciary, so that more people know who this is. Something can be done, but not until you or someone is willing to ID the "perp". Hopefully someone will take some action besides posting this on Patch, where nothing really can happen to an unidentified criminal of the justice system. No real help for the animals either.
Michael Boutwell April 14, 2014 at 12:03 AM
I would film it. Doesn't really matter what they claim after that. The guy will claim you called him (whatever). Then you show the cops why he's really upset. If you have it on film you can show the judge. Like it or not, I'd think the judge's job would be at stake for not taking some action. Thanks for sticking your neck out.
cathyrner April 14, 2014 at 05:20 AM
This initiative should be advertised and encouraged in Rhode Island.......It's a great idea to increase the awareness to the public.....animal abuse is rampant and needs to be reported.


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