If you witness animal abuse or neglect, report it to your local animal control, law enforcement or humane organization. If these authorities agree that there's the possibility of neglect or abuse, they will investigate and decide how to help the animal.
Owners often neglect their pets because they don’t understand their pets’ needs. Humane officers help by explaining how to correctly care for pets. But some owners neglect their animals because they just don’t care. When confronted by a humane officer, these owners may decide to give up the animal instead of being bothered with properly caring for him/her.
If the pet is seriously unhealthy or obviously abused, the humane officer may take him/her into protective care during the investigation. If charges are brought against the owner, you can offer to testify or sign a complaint. In the case of violent abuse, witnesses are rare, so you may be the only person who can testify about the incident.
Humane officers try to respond quickly to complaints, but get a lot of calls every day and can't always respond the moment you call. If you're concerned for the animal's immediate safety, tell the officer or call-taker.
Don't try to rescue a pet from a potentially abusive or neglectful environment yourself. Not only is this illegal and potentially unsafe, but you haven't stopped the owner from getting another pet to abuse, or helped turn him into a caring, responsible owner.
Know what to expect after you have reported animal abuse in Step 3: Understanding the Law.