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What Can I DO:

Reporting Animal Abuse

( Click on any photo on this page for larger view & caption, or see the Drive To Save Lives pages of this website for the complete story.)
These are just a few of the 76 dogs who called this backyard pen home.

What Is A Puppy Mill?   *   What Can I Do About It?   *   Laws/Legislation   *   ACTION ALERTS!

PLEASE NOTE: The information on this page has been compiled to help you report general animal cruelty. If you wish to file a complaint against a Dog Breeder or Seller covered by Wisconsin's Act 90, please click here or use the link below!

 pawprint bullet point   Filing a Complaint Against a Dog Seller or Dog Facility Operator in WI   pawprint bullet point


 pawprint bullet point   Who to call   pawprint bullet point   What to Say   pawprint bullet point   Why It's Important   pawprint bullet point   Further References   pawprint bullet point


Tiny blue paw print bullet point   Whom Do I Call?

Tootsie, a 2 yr old female shepherd mix        If you suspect abuse or neglect of an animal or animals--REPORT IT!!!! Abuse or neglect consist of: filthy conditions, animals packed into cages or runs, apparently sick animals, lack of food or water, moldy or rotting food, dirty water, untreated injuries, actual physical abuse observed, etc. You can suspect abuse when animals cringe when you approach or show signs of multiple recent or old injuries.

       Contact your local humane society, animal shelter, or animal control facility, immediately and see if there is a trained cruelty investigator to whom you can speak. If you don't have a shelter in your area, please call your local law enforcement agency or, if conditions are unsanitary or there are sick or dead animals in evidence, call your local health department as well.

       It's always better if you are able to give your name, sign a complaint, and, if necessary, testify against an abuser — many animal abuse/neglect cases have gone unprosecuted because witnesses refuse to sign a complaint or testify in court. However, if this is a case where you are afraid to leave your name, report anonymously, but DO report it!

       In Wisconsin, certified Humane Officers investigate cruelty, neglect, and abuse reports. However, they cannot excute search warrants or make arrests unless they are also law enforcement officers. See: WI Humane Officers Program and "Appointed Humane Officers in Wisconsin" on the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection website for more information.

       Since anti-cruelty laws vary state to state, who will investigate and prosecute animal cruelty also varies by state. Call or visit your local police department or your local shelter or animal control agency for assistance in finding out whom you need to talk to.

Note: Unless it is a matter of life or death for an animal and requires immediate intervention, do NOT try to handle an abuse or neglect situation on your own. In addition to possibly endangering your own safety, you may do more harm than good for the animal/animals you are trying to help.



Tiny blue paw print bullet point   What Do I Say?

Misty was a victim of a hoarder. She shared a small yard with 76 other dogs, over half of whom had been bred and born onsite.       When reporting animal cruelty, please have the facts and documentation at hand:

  • A concise, written, factual statement of what you observed;

  • Exact address where the animal can be found;

  • Specific dates and approximate times of the observed abuse;

  • Photographs, if possible without endangering your safety or breaking the law;

  • Short, factual, written statements from other witnesses, if any -- with an on-going situation, take a friend along, if possible.

       Be sure to write down exactly whom you speak with when you make your report, the date and time you talked, and the content of the conversation. If you have any written or photographic documentation, be sure not to give anyone your only copy!

       Follow up -- if the investigator doesn't get back to you within a reasonable length of time, call him or her back to check on the progress of the investigation.

       For an excellent article on reporting animal cruelty, including who to report to, what information you will need to give, and how to follow up, please see the Reporting Animal Cruelty section of the ASPCA website.




Tiny blue paw print bullet point   Why Is Reporting Important?

This was home to 76 dogs and puppies until a coalition of animal organizations intervened.       First and foremost, of course, reporting instances of animal cruelty or neglect is critical to ending the abuse that you have observed. For instance, because a would-be customer of a backyard breeder / dog hoarder reported the crowded, filthy, and stinking conditions she found when she went to purchase a puppy that she read about in a classified ad, a team of several humane agencies was able to intervene. (There were 76 mostly large-breed dogs and puppies living in the crowded backyard pictured here; see Drive To Save Lives for the details.)

       Even if it's one of those frustrating "borderline" situations just inside of the law, your report will be part of a file documenting that situation, and might just be the additional evidence needed to prosecute at a later date.

       Unfortunately, some law enforcement agencies put a low priority on animal cruelty reports. The laws are vague, and with a few exceptions, most police academies don't offer classes on conducting animal abuse investigations. In such cases, sometimes a polite reminder is appropriate that animal abuse (dog fighting in particular) is often directly connected with other illegal activities, such as drug dealing, gambling, firearms violations, etc. In the case of puppy millers, the illegal activities could include federal, state, and local tax fraud to the tune of several thousand dollars a year!

       Sometimes, we need to remind others that those who are cruel to animals will also be cruel to other humans if given the chance. There is a documented link between animal abuse and violent acts against people; many notorious killers "practiced" on animals first.

       Animal abuse in a household may also be an indicator of spousal, elder, or child abuse. In domestic violence situations, a pet is often held "hostage" to control the behavior of another adult or a child, and a child who is cruel to animals may be "acting out" what is happening in his/her home.

       For a good article on all facets of the connection between animal abuse and viloence against humans, please see the Humane Society of the US website: Animal Cruelty and Human Violence: A documented connection. You can also download the HSUS "First Strike" brochure or The Common Bond Between Animal Abuse and Child Abuse in pdf.

       Please see our Animal Hoarding section for more insight into this problem -- which is more common than you might thing.

       Share with your local police, sheriff department, prosecutors, etc. to remind them why it is important to investigate and prosecute "animal cases."

Always, always, ALWAYS be courteous and respectful when dealing with law enforcement officers, animal control representatives, and the people in the prosecutor's office! You will do the animals you are trying to help much more harm than good if you are pushy, argumentative, rude, or confrontational!




Tiny blue paw print bullet point   Ginger was rescued from a hoarder situation. She was born onsite of a unsold puppy mill cull and went on to have two litters herself before authorities intervened.Where Can I Learn More?



 pawprint bullet point   WI Appointed Humane Officers   pawprint bullet point   WI Humane Laws   pawprint bullet point

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