If you suspect animal abuse...
arm yourself with facts (and a camera)


I am the proud owner of two shelter mixed breed dogs.

This perspective may be different from others writing about dog abuse.

I agree with what others have said about making a call to your local animal shelter, or to the Animal Division at the local police department, immediately, if you suspect animal abuse. One of my dogs would have died at the hands of their former irresponsible owner, and if not for a call to the Pennsylvania SPCA, she may not have made it.

One of my dogs' former owners tied her up in the yard all day, every day. Her former owners starved her, she had fly bites on her ears, and the owners never trained or socialized her. Luckily, the people at the shelter noticed what a sweet disposition she had. This was despite the cruel punishment inflicted on her by humans, and they did everything they could to save her. She was in the adoption area for only a few days when we adopted her and she has been with us for six years now.

I thank whoever made the call that prompted the SPCA to respond to her plight and take her away from her owners. I can only hope that animal control charged the owners with animal cruelty.

However, sometimes a phone call is not enough. I have witnessed this first-hand, with that same sweet dog, but not by the hands of her owners, but by thoughtless, ignorant dog-hating neighbors.

This neighbor's yard is above mine in the back. There is a wall with a chain link fence on top of that, which separates our yards. Two small children in the yard tease, taunt, and throw things at my dogs. I hollered at the kids, I yelled up to the mother of these kids to get her to restrain her children, and the only thing that accomplished was that the father got into the act of taunting my dogs.

One day I stood under the tree in my yard and watched for no longer than thirty seconds while the grown man leaned over the fence and made barking noises to my dogs below to get them to bark at him. I then came out from behind the tree, called him a few names I choose not to repeat and proceeded to get my dogs to go back in the house with me.

The next day, imagine my surprise when Animal Control knocked on my door to tell me that a neighbor called to complain that my dogs are out all hours of the day and night, barking incessantly. I must explain that because I work from home, I am there with my dogs all day, while they go out for potty runs, or to play. They come back in when they are ready, and I never leave them out in the yard for long periods, or for any reason. I explained this to the officer and told him why they made this call. They complained because I surprised the man and caught him taunting my dogs.

The Animal Control officer said he had to speak to other neighbors, and if the officer could validate the complaint with at least one other neighbor, that he would give me a citation. The Animal Control officer did not hear officers say what the neighbor complained about concerning my dogs, and he left my property.

Out of anger for the neighbor's false claims, I decided to file a complaint of my own. I explained that the neighbor's children throw things into my yard, at my dogs. The officer told me that I had to prove it, by taking pictures. Therefore, the next time the kids taunted the dogs, I took their picture. This made them scurry back into the woodpile, like rats.

One day I found hot peppers in my yard. The complaining neighbors have a pepper plant in their yard. I called Animal Control to report this, and they told me, "We cannot do anything unless one of the dogs get sick or dies, from something a neighbor throws in your yard."

I researched this and found out that according to the PA Dog Law, "You may not place any poison or harmful substance in any place where dogs may easily eat it, whether it is your own property or elsewhere."

Therefore, the Animal Control people either are not aware that hot peppers are harmful to dogs, or they do not know the law. This is extremely frustrating because if Animal Control will not stop people from taunting, teasing, and throwing harmful substances at dogs, I worry about what type of animal abuse they are willing to prevent.

After months of taking pictures of the neighbors and their kids provoking my dogs to bark, it has finally stopped. I have to go out in the yard with my dogs every time, but it is worth it for their health and well-being.

In conclusion, if I saw someone abusing or neglecting an animal, I would first speak to them and ask them that if they cannot take proper care of their animal, would they be willing to take the animal to the shelter so that someone who can take care of the animal will adopt it.

If that does not work, explain to them that if someone reports them, they could face fines and even imprisonment, even if that is not entirely true. Then take pictures, and let them see you take the pictures. This should either prompt them to take better care of their animal, or cause them to put the animal up for adoption.

If nothing changes, call Animal Control. If you are not satisfied with the results, then you should continue calling them until they finally do something about it. Eventually, even if the officers are not aware of the law, they will grow tired of your phone calls, and perhaps will finally decide to do what is best for the animal. The perfect scenario would be for the Animal Control officers to take the animal away from the abusive or neglectful owners, the way they did to save my dog's life.

To read about my experiences in more detail, visit Neighbors from Hell

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