Dogs are such wonderful friends to mankind that it's heartbreaking to realize some people are capable of neglect. Make no mistake, neglect is a form of abuse and should be taken seriously. Signs of neglect include lack of food and water, no shelter from inclement weather or lack of medical attention for illness or injury. It is vital to take swift and appropriate action to rescue a neglected dog so he can have the happy and healthy life every dog deserves. You may even save his life in the process.
Monitor the dog’s environment to be certain you're not mistaken. Unless severe, it may be difficult to determine if you just happened upon the owner/dog relationship during an unusual day or if there is an ongoing pattern of neglect. In mild cases of neglect, the dog owner may simply be uneducated in dog care. For more serious cases, the neglect is willful and the dog’s life may be in immediate danger. Look for clues such as an emaciation, hair loss or wounds left untreated. In addition, look to see if the dog cowers in fear when his owner approaches.
Take pictures or video of the dog to serve as evidence of the neglect. Write down a statement describing the neglect you have observed and include all available information such as names, addresses and dates. Use your own best judgment when deciding if you should approach the owner to discuss the situation. You may run the risk of the owner simply hiding the dog from your view, preventing anyone from observing his living conditions.
Contact law enforcement, animal control or the humane society in your area with your evidence or suspicions. Many states, such as Georgia, have enacted laws designed to prosecute those found guilty of animal neglect or abuse with jail time and/or psychological counseling. Keep a copy of the evidence you provide and advise them if you wish to remain anonymous.
As tempting as it is to simply take the neglected dog from his harmful environment, it is unlawful and therefore better to contact law enforcement to intervene.
Do not trespass onto someone's property when taking photos or video for evidence.
Contact law enforcement as quickly as possible if you see that a dog’s life is in immediate danger.
By Yvonne Ward
About the Author
Yvonne Ward began her professional writing career in 2004. She wrote a true-crime book published in 2010 and has two more underway. She also has a strong background in business, education and farm living. Ward is pursuing a Master of Arts in history and culture from Union Institute and University.