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— October 2, 2012 —

See something, say something.
by Daniel McElroy Jr.

If you suspect an animal is being neglected or abused, here are a few resources available to try and help.

At Bark Avenue Playcare we occasionally get calls about a dog or cat that someone believes is being abused. Many times, people are at a loss as to what they can do to help these animals. The state of Illinois and Chicago both have resources to help people report animal abuse.

Often, owners are unaware that they are not providing proper care for their animals. These cases of neglect, while still considered abuse, can often be corrected through educating the owner. The State of Illinois requires that animals kept outside (we do not advise it, but some people still do this) be provided with adequate shelter from the elements and have access to food and water. If an owner is unaware of these things, often education is all that is needed to correct the situation.

At Bark Avenue we regularly get dogs in for grooming that are severely matted. This matting is painful for the dog and can lead to serious skin infections. I am always sure to educate the dog’s owner about the need to properly groom a long-coated dog. Issues like proper vaccinations and under-feeding (and in some cases over feeding) are all issues that may be corrected through simply educating the owner about the best way to care for their dog.

More serious abuse, like dog fighting or dogs left out in unsheltered yards for extended periods of time may require legal enforcement.

An dogfight in progress should be immediately reported to 911. The police tend to take dogfighting complaints seriously, if for no other reason that dogfights often go along with other serious criminal activities. Also, the Humane Society of the United States has a program offering a reward of up to $5,000.00 for reporting a dogfighter who gets convicted. See the following link for info: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/dogfighting/tips/dogfighting_action.html

Chicago’s Animal Care and Control can be contacted by dialing 311. The city has resources for dealing with animal abuse complaints, but due to budget cuts, these resources are severely limited. Many local humane societies, like The Anti Cruelty Society on LaSalle, have trained Humane Investigators on staff. Our rescue arm, K9 4 KEEPS is in the process of sending some of our volunteers to become trained Humane Investigators. Humane Investigators respond to reports of cruelty in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. In cases such as a suspected dogfighting ring, they can contact the local authorities to investigate.

In other cases, where neglect is suspected, Humane Investigators track complaints and assist owners in correcting violations. As a last resort, the Humane Investigator has the authority to remove the dog from a dangerous situation. Hopefully this will help people who wish to report animal abuse. It’s our duty to speak up for these animals. They can’t speak for themselves.