April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month: Prevent, Recognize and Report!

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April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. Animal abuse warning signs can vary, but you may be surprised to find that signs you think might signal an abused animal are normal. ASPCA experts explain that timid, fearful, or aggressive qualities in pets don't always mean they were abused. A pet's behavior should never be the lone reason to suspect abuse.

Kristen Collins from the ASPCA's Animal Behavior Center says examining the animal's surroundings provides greater insight than animals behavior. Environmental signs to look out for include:

  • Pets tied up outside for any great length of time without enough food or water
  • Animals kept in an area with garbage, feces, and objects that could cause them harm
  • Kennels or cages which are too small
  • Pets outside during inclement weather without shelter
  • Pets housed with too many other animals

Additional signs of abuse can be present on the animal itself. Be alert to such physical abuse warning signs as:

  • Open or untreated wounds
  • Flea infested fur
  • Weakness, limpness, and inability to walk properly
  • Matted fur, overgrown or dirty coat and nails; signs of inadequate grooming
  • A collar which is too tight
  • Signs of extreme drowsiness or confusion
  • Scaly, patchy, or bumpy skin and rashes

Too many innocent animals are neglected or abused by their caretakers. Help ensure that animals in need are assisted by reporting suspected animal abuse. Call your local humane society or police department, even anonymously, to report animal cruelty. When reporting animal abuse, try and provide the agent with a written account of what you witnessed and approximate times if possible.

The ASPCA also provides a database where you can search for shelters in your area that are willing to assist in animal abuse cases. You can find the database at aspca.org/adoption/shelters.

Remember that animals rely on their owners for the proper care, shelter, food, and water. These creatures are innocent and unable to fend for themselves. If you suspect an animal is being abused, please report it.