How to help a neighbor’s neglected animal

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ALDF Suggests: How to help a neighbor’s neglected animal

It can be heartbreaking to see a neighbor’sanimal suffering in a situation of neglect. Depending on the situation, thereare various ways you can help the animal or animals involved.

For emergency situations in which an animal’slife or safety is in immediate danger, contact your local law enforcement orcall 911 immediately.

If the animal’s life is not in danger but yoususpect neglect, it may be productive to approach the guardian and offerassistance such as walking the dog or even helping to place the animal in amore appropriate home. It is a sad fact that at times people get animals withoutthinking about the long-term commitment they are taking on; when the reality ofthe situation becomes apparent, they may be relieved to have someone offertheir assistance.

There are times when the caretaker of the animalis blind to their inability to offer the appropriate care for the animal oranimals under their guardianship. When more animals are taken in than the caretakeris able to care for, such a situation readily spirals out of control into whatis referred to as “animal hoarding.” Read here for moreinformation about the issue of animal hoarding.

If the guardian of the animals is not approachable, or if you suspect the animal is suffering from abuse as well as neglect, alert law enforcement, your local humane society, or your local SPCA (whichever is appropriate in your area) about the situation. It will be helpful to document what you have witnessed, including noting dates, locations and specific incidents and problems in a detailed journal. Photographs, video, and other evidence of the abusive conditions are helpful and persuasive. ALDF does not have an investigative unit, so it is imperative that local authorities fully investigate the case.

If the overseeing agency is non-responsive,consider circulating a petition that you can then present to the agency demanding that the abusive conditions be immediatelycorrected. Consider enlisting the help of the local media such as newspapers,radio and television stations to publicize the situation.

A number of laws may apply; usually these would be state and/or local laws, but there may be federal laws as well (e.g., if you suspect the animals are used for fighting). To obtainlocal ordinances, contact your city council, local humane organization, visityour local library, or check online at www.municode.com.For situations in which your state’s anti-cruelty statutes may have been violated, see ALDF’s information about criminal anti-cruelty cases.

If your state anti-cruelty statutes are weak, youcan help to strengthen them with ALDF’s model law information.

Remember that your eyes may be the only witnessto the suffering of an animal in need, and your intervention may be crucial in saving hisor her life.

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