Recognizing and Reporting Animal Cruelty

By Liz Clements

On the most scorching hot day are you able to quench your thirst? On the most frigid day are you able to find shelter? In the middle of a thunder storm are you able to protect yourself from danger? When someone attempts to verbally or physically attack you, are you able to tell someone? For thousands of domestic animals each year, the answer to these questions is no, according to NJ Aid for Animals (NJAFA).

In an effort to help animals, NJAFA held a workshop on Sunday, May 18 called How the Private Citizen Can Recognize and Report Animal Cruelty.The workshop was facilitated by Stu Goldman, who has taught animal cruelty courses at the NJSPCA and written a book on recognizing animal cruelty.

The workshop was designed to help inform people on the importance of recognizing and reporting all forms of animal cruelty. Kathy McGuire, Founder and President of NJAFA, formed the all volunteer not for-profit humane organization in order to spay/ neuter and transport owned cats and dogs in Camden City or individuals who can not afford it. NJAFA also takes in abused, neglected and abandoned animals until it can find them suitable homes. More important, NJAFA reports animal abusers and follows through to prosecution.

For NJAFA this is no hobby. It is a passion. Our intent is for people to feel empowered and emboldened to take the initiative and to be diligent in reporting what they see. As in child abuse, someone (YOU) should just step forward and be an advocate for animals that cannot speak for themselves, said McGuire.

In terms of animal cruelty there are two types, one is known as passive (acts of omission) and the other is active (acts of commission). Passive cruelty consists of neglect of an animal where the crime is due to lack of action, while active cruelty consists of a malicious intent to hurt an animal. Passive and active abuse are indeed crimes.

Citizens need to know that it is okay to be involved and report acts. If you speculate that there may be such an occurrence, you should try to build a case by what you can see in plain view. Helpful tips include tape recording and/or video recording the abuse.

Call your local police department or the New Jersey SPCA at 1-800-582- 5979 to report animal cruelty or abuse. They will refer you to your contracted animal control agency. The key is to stay diligent. Continue to call until you get a positive response. Always get a name or an identification number of the person you spoke to and keep a log.

For future questions, concerns, or to find out about more workshops contact NJ Aid for Animals at or visit

Recognizing Animal Cruelty

Animals who are being neglected or abused often display:

  • tick or flea infestations;
  • wounds on the body;
  • patches of missing hair;
  • extreme thinness, appearance of starving;
  • limp;
  • signs of being struck or otherwise physically abused;

Other signs of abuse or neglect are:

  • dogs who are repeatedly left alone without food and water, and are often chained in a yard;
  • dogs who have been hit by cars-or are showing any of the signs listed above-and have not been taken to a veterinarian;
  • dogs who are kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions;
  • and animals who cower in fear or act aggressively when approached by their owners.

Source: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals


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