Step 1: Evaluate the Situation

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Animal Neglect

Maybe it only looks like neglect. Look more closely at different times of day.

Maybe the food and water bowls are kept inside, away from bugs and freezing temperatures. Maybe your neighbor goes to work at 3 a.m. and feeds the dog then. Maybe there’s a dog door you can’t see.

Here are some sure signs of animal neglect:


Animal Neglect

No Shelter

Animals need protection from the elements while outdoors to ensure their welfare and well-being.

Collar too tight

Not increasing the size of a collar as an animal grows causes injury, strangulation and death.

Lack of grooming

Without regular grooming, a pet, especially a long-haired one, can get massive matting and sores.


Mange, caused by tiny parasites, leads to itching, loss of hair and sores from scratching and biting to relieve the irritation. Mange is easily treated with medicated baths.


Starvation is caused not only by lack of food, but also by improper food, untreated disease and parasites (like worms).

Animal Abuse

It’s easier to recognize physical abuse when you see something cruel like choking, setting tails on fire, dunking heads under water, kicking and hitting.

If you see such a thing, you'll probably be outraged and want to confront the abuser. Avoid that impulse.

If you can safely take photos or video of the incident, do so. This firm evidence is invaluable to investigators. Note what you witness in as much detail as possible and provide investigators with everything (i.e. what the abuser looks like and what he/she was wearing, where the animal is located, etc.)

In the case of a child abusing an animal, the parent may be unaware of the behavior. But because animal abuse has been linked with other types of abuse in the home -- namely child abuse -- it's better to let the authorities investigate.

If you’re reasonably sure an animal is being abused or neglected, go to Step 2: Report Animal Abuse.

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