Once again this week, we've been faced with disturbing information about a case of severe animal abuse here in the Phoenix area.
A dog was found dead along I-10, apparently dragged to its death outside a moving truck.
In this case, the abuse is clear-cut. But it's not always that way -- sometimes it can be harder to spot.
If you're able to recognize the signs, you can help authorities remove an animal from a bad situation and keep a suspect from hurting more animals, or even other people.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
1. Make sure the animal has food, shelter and water
If you neighbor says his cat is an outdoor animal, that's one thing, but if the cat appears malnourished, that's a problem and it could be suffering in other ways.
2. Keep an eye out for physical wounds or illness
A cut or bruise may come from physical abuse, but it could also be a sign of neglect. If the animal is constantly injured and the owner is unbothered, that could be a problem, too.
3. What about a bug problem?
A dog with a flea or tick infestation may not be receiving the care it needs. The same goes with inadequate grooming. Make sure the owner is aware of the situation and has a plan.
4. How does the animal act around the owner?
Some pets are skiddish, sure. But if a dog is afraid of its owner, that may be a sign that it is in a bad situation.
5. Check out the animal's environment
Is the owner keeping the pet in a cage or kennel when it doesn't need to be inside one? How well kept is the home or yard? How long has the owner been gone?
Arizona Humane Society spokesperson Bretta Nelson said AHS responds to more than 6,000 suspected cruelty causes per year.
"There’s definitely a problem in our community and across the country where things like this are happening to these pets who can’t really fend for themselves," she said.
That's why it's critical that witnesses document and report instances of abuse. Nelson said witnesses should not put themselves in harm's way, but they should try to get proof of the abuse.
"If there’s any way you’re able to get photos, video, a license plate, anything like that will help authorities so much in determining their next steps and where to begin looking for this act of cruelty," Nelson said.
You can call the Arizona Humane Society (602-997-7585 ext. 2073) or local law enforcement. You can even call 911 and dispatchers will help point you in the right direction.
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