Every 10 seconds an animal is abused. Most cruelty cases go unnoticed and unpunished because they are not reported. And the animals continue to suffer. What’s worse, there’s a proven link between animal abuse and family violence. An animal is usually the abuser’s first victim. When you report abuse, you may save more than one life!
Did you know?
- Research shows that 40% of animal abusers have committed violent crimes against people, and 100% of sexual homicide offenders have a history of animal cruelty.
- Children can learn cruel behaviors from adults and may re-enact them on animals.
- When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it’s a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe.
How to recognize signs of abuse and neglect
Forms of cruelty and neglect:
- Starvation, whether due to lack of food or water, an untreated disease or parasites.
- Physically harming an animal, like kicking, choking, mutilating or lighting on fire.
- Not providing proper shelter from cold, hot or rainy weather.
- Failing to provide veterinary care for an injured or ill animal.
- Failing to treat skin conditions like flea allergies and demodex (“mange”), which cause terrible itching, loss of fur and open sores caused by scratching and biting.
- Not increasing the size of a collar as a puppy or kitten grows. This can result in extremely painful neck lacerations—and death.
- Not grooming a dog or cat, especially long-haired pets. This can lead to massive matting, open sores and agony for the animal.
What can you do?
If you see someone mistreating an animal, report the incident immediately by calling 911. To report a neglect case or abuse after the fact, contact your local animal control agency.
In the city of Santa Barbara, call:
- Santa Barbara City Animal Control, 805-963-1513
- Santa Barbara Humane Society, 805-964-4777, Ext. 18
In the city of Carpinteria, call:
- Carpinteria Animal Control, 805-684-5405
Outside Santa Barbara City limits, call Santa Barbara County Animal Services:
- Santa Barbara Animal Shelter, 805-681-5285
- Santa Maria Animal Center, 805-934-6119
DO NOT confront the abuser or attempt to remove an animal from a potentially abusive or neglectful situation on your own. Doing so may be illegal and can eliminate important evidence. If you can safely do so, take photos and/or video and share with the authorities.
If you’re worried about retaliation or being blamed for meddling, tell the animal control ofﬁcer that you wish to remain anonymous from the animal owner.
What happens next?
Once a case is reported and an animal welfare agency agrees that an animal may be mistreated, an officer visits the pet’s home for further investigation. If the officer determines that the animal is neglected and/or abused, they decide on the best way to alleviate the animal’s suffering. Sometimes neglect is caused by an owner’s lack of awareness and, in that case, the officer may talk to the owner about the importance of proper pet care. Some owners neglect their pets because they simply don’t care and when confronted by an officer, they may decide to relinquish their animals. If the pet is very sick or unhealthy, or clearly abused, the officer may seize the animal and place it under protective care while the investigation continues.
Other ways to help
If a pet owner is charged with neglect, offer to sign a complaint. In the case of violent abuse, witnesses are rare and you may be the only person who can testify about the incident. Speak up! Animal abuse is everyone’s business. You may be the only one who can save an animal from continuous abuse and suffering, or worse.