Series: Individual Action & Animal Welfare
How to responsibly report a case to rescue groups and shelters - Part 2
By Akshata Modi
Often, when people are made aware of the harsh realities of animal cruelty, they next think about how they can help. One of the ways to help vulnerable animals is to be prudent and responsible when reporting a case to a rescue organisation or shelter. This article will discuss how one can be responsible when reporting animal cruelty. (Check out Part 1 of this blog on our website, especially for more information on whom you can contact in a rescue situation!)
Reporting a case of animal cruelty
What constitutes animal cruelty?
Neglect, or a failure to provide basic needs for an animal, comprises a large percentage of cruelty cases. Neglect often includes hoarding, lack of shelter or veterinary care, tethering (e.g. chains), and abandonment; signs of neglect include emaciation, untreated wounds, and hair loss. Animal cruelty can also occur in the form of direct abuse.
It can be very upsetting to see someone beating or physically attacking an animal, but it's important not to turn away. It's crucial to quickly contact the law enforcement, an animal rescue, or an animal shelter.
Make sure to document the case as well as the dates, times, specific details, and, if possible, footage and photographs from your cell phone. All of this information can help appropriate agencies during any investigation conducted in relation to the suspected cruelty. (Read our first blog in this series, What to Do If You Notice a Companion Animal Getting Neglected or Abused, for more information on animal cruelty and effective responses.)
What to do if you witness cruelty?
Witnessing cruelty to animals is an upsetting experience, but knowing how to properly handle the situation can save a life and prevent the abuser from harming other victims.
Don’t assume that someone else will help. An abused animal may need immediate veterinary care, without which he/she may suffer for a long time or die from his/her injuries. If you can, alert the family to the animal's condition and alert local authorities of suspected neglect as soon as possible.
Report the crime to the police. A FIR sets the process of criminal justice into motion – police will investigate a case only after a FIR has been filed. Contact a local animal protection group which can provide you with assistance.
Reporting an Injured animal
We often come across community animals on streets who are hurt or have wounds infested with maggots. If and when you come across any community animal who is hurt, first take water and food to the dog. Be careful not to get too close to the dog; let the dog approach the water and food on its own, if it is able to do so. An injured dog can be easily frightened, and you don't have any information about the dog's prior experience with humans. If people live nearby this injured dog, speak with them and try to get as much information about the dog as you can.
The sight of an injured animal is incredibly disheartening. If you see an injured animal, assess the injury yourself; if it seems serious and likely requires medical attention, immediately take the animal to the closest veterinarian or get in touch with an animal welfare NGO. If the injury was a result of an accident or a situation you witnessed, make sure to keep track of that information. NGOs and vets don’t always have access to ambulances, so you might need to take the dog to the vet or hospital yourself.
The next most important step is to follow up with the rescue group or shelter; the organisation will most probably inform you about when you can follow up with them. Lastly, once the dog receives medical aid and recovers, it is advisable to leave the dog in the same area from which he/she was picked from, as this is his/her home territory!
Dogs have the unique ability to cheer you up when you feel blue, to shower you with unconditional love, and to make you want to be a better person. But these furry friends are not always lucky enough to find companionship with a loving human. They are often abandoned and are in need of the love and support which they deserve. As there are close to 30 million stray dogs on the streets of India, one can only imagine how many animal rescues and shelters would need to arise to care for the victims of abuse, abandonment, illness, and injury. Most of these organisations are functioning at full capacity – especially animal shelters, which are so overpopulated that the chances of a healthy dog catching an infection are extremely high. We as citizens can make sure to help animals in need and show responsibility while doing the same. You never know when you might come across an animal in need, so it’s best to stay prepared regarding what steps you should take and who you should contact in such situations!