If You See Animal Cruelty, Dial 911 or Call for Help
Given the concern about terrorist attacks, the public has been urged to be vigilant with the mantra of “If you see something, say something.” That same guidance should be applied to animal cruelty situations. Animals cannot dial 911 or call for help, but we can do so on their behalf. And we should; it is the moral and responsible thing to do.
When you make that call, you need to have your facts in order: what is the exact location of the animal, did you witness the situation that is putting the animal in danger or observe the conditions that are causing the animal to be neglected, can the authorities see the animal from the roadway or is it hidden away on the property, and if the animal is not visible from the road, are you willing to sign a statement for the police of what you observed? These are all necessary steps to help authorities respond to a dangerous situation for an animal.
One NY county has stepped up to make such reporting easier. In 2018, Kristy Sprague, the District Attorney of Essex County, launched an animal cruelty hotline for the public to use to report cases of suspected cruelty or neglect. According to Sprague, this includes abuse to any animal – pets, wildlife, and farm animals, all of which are protected under NYS law. “Law enforcement officers depend on tips from neighbors, community members, and passersby to intervene before it’s too late,” said Sprague. “Animals can’t advocate for themselves. We’re counting on the public to be their voice.” The hotline connects the caller to county Emergency Response dispatchers, who pass the information along to an appropriate law enforcement agency.
The hotline has been well received and authorities have investigated many cruelty complaints, of which numerous dealt with abandoned animals in situations that might otherwise have gone unaddressed, and animals left out in frigid temperatures who might otherwise have died. Sprague says, “Addressing animal cruelty as early as possible can save lives.”
Upon hearing of this innovative approach, we contacted our DA’s Office in Ulster County where the NYSHA office is located. We provided the staff with the information from Essex, and they are forming a plan to put it in effect in our county.
This approach needs to be implemented throughout the state to effect a quick response to animals in need, and we urge you, our readers, to please do a Google search on: Essex County Launches Animal Abuse Hotline, print that press release, present it to your DA, and ask him/her to implement it your county. Both the animals and the people who care about them will benefit.
Always be kind to animals,
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXXIII Spring 2019.