What To Do If You Suspect Animal Abuse or Neglect

Neglected and Mistreated Dogs

How many times has each of us witnessed an act of cruelty to an animal and hoped the situation would get better for the poor creature?

Hoping is not enough. If you know of an animal who is being abused or neglected, it is up to you to take action. The animal has no voice of its own and if you don't speak up for it, no one will.

If you are hesitant to report the abuse or neglect because you fear retaliation against you, your family or your own pet by the abused or neglected animal's "guardian," you may choose to remain anonymous in making the report. All of the states have enacted some form of animal anti-cruelty law.

Generally, the local animal control agency is granted authority by the local government to enforce the state law by investigating and taking possession of animal if it is determined that the animal is, in fact, abused, neglected or otherwise being treated inhumanely*.

In the City of Los Angeles, the Department of Animal Services is responsible for investigating complaints about abuse or neglect. For the telephone number of the facility in the area in which the abuse or neglect is occurring, consult the Department's website Click here: L.A. Animal Services.

In unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, the Department of Animal Care and Control is charged with this duty of investigating abuse or neglect reports. For the telephone number of the facility in the area in which the abuse or neglect is occurring, consult the DACC's website Click here: Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control .

For abuse or neglect in other incorporated cities within Los Angeles County, in other California counties or in other states, consult your telephone directory for the telephone number of the local animal control authority or contact your local Humane Society or SPCA for guidance.

Animal abuse or neglect is a serious crime. Numerous studies show a direct and undeniable link between abuse of animals and violent crimes against other people. Additionally, if the abuse is at the hands of a child, it may signal that the child is being abused at the hands of an adult. The officers who investigate these matters are trained to look for signs of child abuse when investigating these matters.

Remember, these animals have no voice. They are dependent on you. You are their only hope. If you don't speak up by reporting animal abuse or neglect, no one will.

Dog Fighting

Dog fighting is a serious crime. It is often linked to even more serious crimes that are also being committed by the individuals involved and in recent years even the FBI has become involved in dog fighting cases in which dogs have been taken across state lines to fight.

In California, dog fighting if a felony offense, as are training a dog to fight and hosting a dog fight on your property. The crime is so severe that even attending a dog fight is against the law.

Boxers generally are not used in the fighting ring, but are likely victims in training fighting dogs and are used for "bait" in the training process. The boxer is a victim of the dog fighter, but so is the fighting dog. It is trained for viciousness by its owner and is a victim just as much as the dog used in its training. No matter how good a fighter the dog becomes, it eventually loses. Often, a dog severely injured in a fight is dumped in a park or other public place and left to die.

Entire breeds of dogs have been deemed "vicious" because of the acts of the unscrupulous dog fighter. No dog wins in a dog fight. The dogs are the ultimate losers and the only winners are the people who fight dogs who profit at the expense of the animals.

If you know of or suspect a dog is being trained to fight, is being used in dog fights or that a dog fight is taking place, please contact your local animal control administrator as well as your local law enforcement office.

Remember, these animals have no voice. They are dependent on you. You are their only hope. If you don't speak up by reporting animal abuse or neglect, no one will.


*California's anti-cruelty laws are set forth in section 597 of the California Penal Code. If the investigating animal control officer determines that abuse or neglect exist, the law provides that the animal will be held by the animal control authority until the guardian is brought to trial. If the court determines that there was abuse or neglect in violation of the law, the guardian may be fined and, if severe abuse or neglect is found, the guardian may be imprisoned. The court may also order that the guardian forfeits "ownership" of the animal, in which case the animal will be made available for adoption by the animal control authority, assuming the animal is not infirm, deemed vicious or otherwise determined to be unsuitable for adoption.