It is not uncommon for people to come to us with their concerns about animal cruelty. We understand why… it is upsetting to be concerned for the welfare of an animal, and you may need help/resources. To provide those resources, here are some things you can do if you suspect animal cruelty:
1) Learn more about what constitutes animal abuse.The Humane Society of the United States defines animal abuse in these categories:
- Lack of veterinary care
- Inadequate shelter
- Chained dogs
ii. Direct abuse
- Pets left in cars
- Beating and physical abuse
- Animal fighting and organized cruelty
2) Be realistic.We are in animal rescue and love our pets and treat them like family, as many of you probably do as well. However, it is important to remember that many people do not have the same standard, but they aren’t abusing their pets.
For some people, keeping a dog outside for its entire life is fine. Other dogs spend 14+ hours a day in a crate. Many people keep/feed feral cats and allow them to breed without vet care. Do we like that? No. But unfortunately, in Wyoming, we have some very weak animal abuse definitions and penalties. (The statues are here: https://codes.findlaw.com/wy/title-6-crimes-and-offenses/wy-st-sect-6-3-203.html)
As long as an animal is provided food, water, shelter, and is not subject to obvious physical abuse, an animal probably won’t be seized by authorities. (There are also different standards for livestock, like horses and cows, than for companion animals, like dogs and cats.)
But if you feel like what you are witnessing constitutes abuse, don’t be afraid to step in.
3) Learn more about the situation and take action. How dire is the situation for the animal? For example, there is a difference between a dog locked inside a hot car and one being left outside for an inordinate amount of time without shelter. If the animal’s life is immediately being threatened, an appropriate course of action may be to call the police. They can advise you as to whether it is alright to break that car window to rescue the dog, or if you could get yourself in trouble by taking your neighbor’s dog out of their yard.
If you do call Animal Control or 911, having as much knowledge about the situation as possible will help them respond appropriately.
We encourage people to be vigilant in reporting suspected animal cruelty. Your actions could relieve an animal’s suffering or save its life. Call your local Animal Control or the local police immediately if you think you are witnessing abuse.