Pets are a source of incredible joy and unconditional love. Unfortunately, there are people who don’t act responsibly toward their four-legged family members, and may purposefully mistreat them.
Cruelty to animals could mean depriving a pet of food, water, shelter or veterinary care. Extreme cases of animal cruelty includetorture, maiming or killing animals.
The causes of this behavior can vary widely, but can often be attributed to past abuse. Often, a person who will abuse an animal will also abuse other people.
Animal cruelty can take many forms. Some of the warning signs include:
- Wounds – especially ones that have not been tended to or treated by a veterinarian
- Animals who cower in fear or act aggressively when approached by their owners
- Extremely thin or starved appearance
- Patches of missing hair
- Tick or flea infestations. If left untreated, this can lead to an animal's death
- An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal
- Dogs that are repeatedly left alone without food and water, often chained up in a yard
- Dogs that are kept outside in extreme weather conditions without appropriate shelter
If you notice signs of animal cruelty, it’s important that you call your local police department or Pinellas County Animal Services at (727) 582-2600. You can also e-mail Animal Services. You may provide anonymous information, but remember that any e-mails are subject to the public records laws of Florida.
Help educate others about the danger of leaving pets in cars, outdoors in the sun and in other situations that expose them to Florida’s heat. Not everyone realizes this, especially if they are visiting the area or have recently relocated. Educate others about the need for clean water and food, safe areas for animals to live and play. Tell them about the need for veterinary care. Vaccinations and spaying and neutering information is a good way to start.
Set a good example for others. If you have pets, be sure to always show them the love and care they deserve. Taking care of a pet is more than just providing food, water and adequate shelter. If you think your animal is sick, bring him to the veterinarian. Be responsible and have your animals spayed or neutered, licensed and vaccinated.