Help a Dog: What to do if you suspect pet abuse

Have you witnessed someone abusing their pet dog? Here’s what you can do to help.

Confrontation is never easy, nor is it always the answer. But what happens when you notice that the neighbouring dog isn’t being fed? Or is kept tied up outside at all hours without any exercise? What if you actually witness a person physically assaulting their pet or any other living creature?

As a moral citizen, it might be difficult to turn away from this. Good. This means you care- and that is the first step towards saving a dog. But in order to effectively uphold your moral responsibilities, you will need to have a solid approach.

At VOSD, we provide solutions for and advice on dealing with the messy and unpleasant matters that affect our best friends- dogs.

We often get requests to intervene when a person witnesses animal abuse. While we would love to help each and every dog, it is ultimately more rewarding when more and more people share our attitudes towards dogs of all shapes and sizes. A community that loves and respects our pets is the kind of world we are trying to build.

Reporters often do not want to do the dirty work of confronting a troubling issue. But even for an organisation like VOSD to intervene, ground level teamwork is essential. As a witness and a well-meaning citizen, it is your job to have all your facts straight first. To do this, you need to engage.

There are several laws in place to take care of the rights of dogs- under the Fundamental Right to Life and the Prevention Against Cruelty to Animals Act. As a citizen, it is your responsibility to uphold the values on which these laws are based and speak out if required.

Approach your neighbour directly

You are within your right to have a conversation with a neighbour if you suspect mistreatment of an animal. A person who is abusive towards their pet, is likely also abusive towards the people around them. Violence is never the answer to a problem. Be careful but firm when you talk to the person. Make sure to not lob accusations without a preliminary conversation.

Understand the context

While it is never alright to abuse a fellow living being, take a moment to understand the background of the person. It might be possible that this person requires guidance and help as well. If you witness cruel behaviour first hand, you can approach and put a stop to the violence, but understanding the context will help you decide if you need additional support.

Learn, and educate

Read up about doggo rights! VOSD has a wealth of information and resources on this very subject. Thanks to the work of many dog lovers out there, most cases of cruelty and their subsequent judgements have already been documented. We try to discuss this on our blog as much as possible. The more you know!

Don’t hesitate to educate your friends and family as well. Ignorance is often the cause of anti-dog behaviour.

Remember your priority: the dog

Never let yourself get distracted from the main priority in all this- the pet animal. Use your judgement and act in a manner that will guarantee the pet’s safety first and foremost. Without this, your approach can prove counterproductive and you might turn an ugly matter into an uglier one. Remember, you want to save the pet, not hurt anyone else.

Lawyer up!

If you’ve tried everything, and there has been no resolution, you might have to get legal help. You can find out more about the legal process here. If you do not have the resources, you can get guidance here.