5 Ways You Can Help Prevent Animal Cruelty

If the closest you’ve ever been to animal cruelty is sitting in a giant puddle of tears during a Sarah McLachlan commercial, that’s a good thing. If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of witnessing someone mistreat an animal, we hope you know — during Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month and beyond — that there are ways you can help stop it. 


Always raising their voice on this issue is the ASPCA, who have given us five ways that you can help prevent animal cruelty right now.


The statistics they’ve gathered on this topic hit hard: there are an estimated 10,000 puppies in puppy mills in the United States. More than 100,000 American horses are slaughtered each year for human consumption. Some 250,000 animals are victims of animal hoarding annually. 


A sad face on Facebook simply isn’t enough to enact change but following these prevention suggestions could do a serious solid for neglected or abused animals out there, and possibly save a life.

1. If you see something, say something. 

Animals need us to look out for them. The best thing you can do if you suspect animal cruelty is to report your suspicions to your local law enforcement agency, humane organization, animal control agency or taxpayer-funded animal shelter. It’s their job to help. Before you make contact, the ASPCA suggests you write down what you’ve observed and take photos, if possible, but also never put yourself in danger just to get more information. Click here for a step by step explanation of how to write an animal cruelty report. Your attention to detail could be the difference between life or death for an animal in need.

2. Familiarize yourself with the signs of dog-fighting and animal hoarding. 

The ASPCA’s definition of dog-fighting is: a type of blood sport in which dogs are forced to fight one another for the entertainment and/or profit of spectators. Although it’s a punishable felony across the country, this horrible activity still takes place and you can help stop it by reporting suspicious activity. Animal hoarding, the ASPCA says, when a person has more animals than they can properly care for in their home, is a complex mental health, animal welfare and public safety issue. Some key signs that a person may be hoarding animals: the person may not know how many animals are in their care, the person appears to neglect their animals and themselves, and animals in the home are emaciated or not well socialized. Click here to learn more about the signs of dog-fighting and animal hoarding. 

3. Always make adoption your first option or do your research when identifying a responsible breeder. 

C’mon, you’ve been on social media long enough to know that rescue animals are insanely cute, lovable, and shareable. If you’re looking for a new furry friend, or know someone else who is, make the shelter the first stop. “Adopting your next pet provides a second chance for that animal and opens up a space for the next pup who arrives needing help—your act of kindness has a ripple effect that can impact many lives,” the ASPCA tells us. “If you’ve got your heart set on a particular breed of dog, we encourage you to open your mind and your heart by giving the adoption counselors at your local shelter a chance to use what they know about their resident animals to set you up with a great match.” Did you now it’s actually possible to find an adoptable purebred or “designer breed” puppy at an animal shelter? True story! Focus on what’s important: getting a buddy for your kids, a super-smart activity partner or a snuggly couch potato for you. If you are set on going the breeder route, the ASPCA says you should choose a breeder who loves and cares for their dogs — meet with the breeder in person where they raise their animals, and that should be evident right away. For more tips on choosing the right breeder, click here. 

4. Purchase meat, dairy and eggs from credible, welfare-certified farms. 

Take a long, hard look at the food that’s about to enter your mouth — was it cruelly treated before it came to you? It’s a tough question to answer unless you’ve done your research. Here’s an upsetting stat: the ASPCA says that nearly 10 billion farm animals raised each year in the U.S. suffer in conditions that consumers would not accept if they could see them. If you care about animals, it is important to research the brands you buy. It requires a little more work when you shop or dine, but putting your money in the pockets of people who humanely care for their animals can make a real difference. To learn more about factory farming, click here.

5. Join the ASPCAAdvocacy Brigade.

Now more than ever, it’s important to get involved. The ASPCA encourages anyone who is passionate about putting an end to animal cruelty to use their voice to help pass legislation that effects change. Not sure where to begin? Join one of the ASPCA’s volunteer programs listed on their website and sign up now to receive regular updates from them about legislation that’s pending in your area or in Washington, D.C.


To learn more about how you can prevent animal cruelty, visit the ASPCA’s website.




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Amy Jamieson

A former senior editor for People.com, Amy launched People Pets for People magazine in 2008. Now she writes about pets, lifestyle and more from her bucolic saltbox in Collinsville, Connecticut, usually with a cat in her lap and a dog at her feet.

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