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Friday, May 20, 2011

The HSUS Tells Us How To Report Animal Cruelty

First, a big thank you to Puddles for starting the discussion about why some people turn away from reporting animal cruelty- read that enlightening comment exchange here: boccibeefs.blogspot.com/2011/04/mayor-of-newark-shocked-by-animal.html.

While we may not be able to fully answer that question, Parental Unit and I realized that we could provide you with information on animal cruelty and how to be ready to report it. And this information and preparation would make it much more likely that you would then take the next step and report it. As we always say, education and preparedness are the basis for action! And we got these incredible tips directly from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)... because I encouraged Parental Unit to just pick up the phone and explain to their kind and generous staff that we wanted to write a post on our blog about these issues (you're welcome!).

So a few weeks ago, we had the honor of speaking with Ashley Mauceri, Deputy Manager of Animal Cruelty Investigation for the HSUS, who graciously spent over an hour of her time filling us in on her job, and the steps necessary to report and successfully prosecute animal cruelty cases. Unless otherwise indicated, the information presented in this post is from either the HSUS (and available on their web site with links we will provide along the way), or from our interview with Ms. Mauceri.

Note: The definition of animal cruelty covers a "wide range of behaviors harmful to animals, from neglect to malicious killing." Read these FAQ with the thoughtful answers provided by the HSUS here:

Well, guess what comes first? Education and then preparation!

1. Find out who has authority over animal issues in your community-who can take action-and copy those names and numbers into your cell phone. Note: if you witness animal cruelty within your city or town limits, your local law enforcement (the police) usually have a department designated as animal control. Outside of the city limits, animal protection usually falls to the sheriff's department. But the key is to find out right now, and have these numbers on hand. Don't forget to also add the names and phone numbers of major shelters and rescue groups in your area to your list.

 Note: There are animal cruelty laws in all 50 states (violations are a felony in 46 states) and therefore, law enforcement will be able to take action for a violation. Whether they actually take this action is a separate issue and depends a lot on the evidence, including the witnesses for any particular case (this means you!).

2. Your next step is to familiarize yourself with the animal cruelty laws in your state and local area. This is easier than you think and does not involve obtaining a law degree: Ms. Mauceri recommends visiting: www.animallaw.info/ -it's a great resource that lists every state's animal laws. So look up that information and print out your state's laws right now-then familiarize yourself with them, so you at least have a general idea of what constitutes a violation in your area.
Read this additional information from the HSUS on animal cruelty here: www.humanesociety.org/testing/hsus_testing/documentation/abuse.html.

Now, don't you feel empowered already?

3. So let's just say you are witnessing what you believe to be animal cruelty, and you're angry and nervous and a bit weak in the knees. Now what?
First, take a few minutes to access the situation: write down the approximate location, what's happening and to whom, the time and any other details you think might help law enforcement-and take pictures if you can without risking your own safety.

Then the first call you should make is to local law enforcement -you know, that number you have in your speed dial- and calmly report the facts (just the facts, ma'am). Good news: law enforcement is required to investigate these complaints. But...just to be sure, always document your call by writing down: whom you talked with, the date and time you called, and briefly,what you discussed. Then don't be shy about following up!

Remember: you can always call the HSUS animal cruelty hotline at: 1-301-258-1515. You may also e-mail their animal cruelty division here: animalcruelty@hsus.org. And check out this detailed and thoughtful information on why and how to report animal cruelty, available on the HSUS website here: www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/tips/cruelty_action.html.

4. If you also choose to call the HSUS animal cruelty hotline, and you may do so anonymously, it's good to know that they're there to help and support you. Here's what will happen: They will first do their best to ascertain whether the facts of your particular incident are likely to be a violation of your state's animal cruelty laws. If so, they will walk you through specific ways to strengthen your case. They can also contact your local law enforcement agency on your behalf. Note: The HSUS has no enforcement authority of their own, so even they must go through local law enforcement. As Ms. Mauceri stated, "Her job is to make law enforcement's job easier." And they will be there "as your allies to work with you through the case...you'll have someone knowledgeable on your side to help."

Check out this additional information provided by the HSUS on animal neglect here: www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2010/12/keep_pets_inside_winter_122110.html.

We'll end here for now, but we plan to make this an ongoing conversation -we'll be presenting you with a series of posts on animal cruelty and what we can do together to both prevent and prosecute this heinous behavior. We hope this information helps us all to realize that we have more power than we think we do to nip animal cruelty in the bud!

A big thanks to Ashley Mauceri for her time and expertise, and to the Humane Society of the United States for, well, all that they do! Check out this link to donate to support their important work: www.humanesociety.org/donate/.

As always, we appreciate your comments and your support.


K-Koira said...

Interesting post, but I can't really support HSUS at all. They support BSL, and no money donated to them goes directly to helping animals.

Money is much better spent when donated to local shelters and rescues, or state organizations.

3 doxies said...

Our Animal Control is pretty much useless. We usually have to call the Police Dept anyway to get in touch with them...Animal Control here is a joke and the vets will tell you the same thing.
You said 46 states have animal cruelty charges that are felonies...we are in the last 4 states!!!!!! It is only considered a misdeamoner here! We are so not a progressive state.

Allison...Puddles mum

MommyDigger.com said...

Great information to have! Thankfully I've not witnessed abuse firsthand but I have a rescued handicapped pit bull that was born into an awful situation.

I'm a new follower from the Friday Blog Frog Hop! Following on GFC and Twitter.
Please stop on by and follow me at http://www.mommydigger.com and say hello :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing. I think it's important that people feel empowered to report animal cruelty - whether to local law enforcement, a humane officer or an animal welfare organization. People should not turn their backs on neglected and abused animals.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing the links. It's an interesting post.
Our local shelter does try their best to help and rescue animals from all over the places, however, there are still many cases of abused here and there. I do hope more people are aware about the animal cruelty and help report it to the local authority.

Kirby, CGC said...

Nice post and very informative, at our shelter, we see some sad abuse cases (check out my recent post on the pittie who had his ears cut off with scissors!). They can't speak for themselves...we HAVE to be thier voice!

Kirby's mom

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