Recognizing the Signs of Animal Cruelty

Cruelty can take many different forms ranging from unintentional neglect due to lack of education and/or finances all the way up to and including premeditated cruelty like dog fighting. It is important to look at both pets and their environment to determine if abuse may be taking place.  Aggressive, timid and fearful behavior can occur for many reasons other than abuse.  A pet that is being actively treated for a medical condition may look unhealthy at the beginning of their recovery process.  The two lists below will help you determine if the pet(s) you’ve observed may be victims of cruelty or neglect.

Physical signs of abuse:

  • Collar that is embedded in the pet’s neck or so tight it is causing a wound
  • Open wounds, signs of multiple healed wounds, or a chronic injury or illness that isn’t being treated
  • Untreated skin conditions that have caused loss of hair, scaly skin, bumps or rashes
  • Flea, tick or other external parasite infestation of the fur
  • Patches of bumpy, scaly skin rashes
  • Signs of inadequate grooming; matted fur, overgrown nails, dirty coat
  • Limping or the inability to walk or stand normally
  • Extreme physical weakness
  • Heavy discharge from eyes or nose
  • Observed beating or other signs of physical abuse
  • Visible signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness
  • Pets are visibly emaciated
  • Pets that cower and/or act aggressively to their owners and/or ALL people

Environmental signs of abuse:

  • Pets that are kept outside (chained) for long periods of time without adequate food, water or shelter
  • Pets that are regularly left alone for long periods of time without food or water
  • Pets kept outside in inclement weather without access to adequate shelter
  • Pets living conditions are constantly filthy and littered with feces, garbage, broken glass and other harmful objects
  • Pets are kept in overcrowded cages/kennels
  • Pets kept in cages/kennels that aren’t big enough to allow them to stand, turn around and make normal movements

If you’ve observed a pet(s) that shows both physical and environmental signs of abuse, or multiple signs in one of the lists above, report your findings to your local Animal Control Officer.  This will ensure that pets in jeopardy receive prompt and often lifesaving care.


Connecticut Humane Society

701 Russell Road, Newington, CT 06111
800-452-0114 | FAX 860-665-1478 
The Connecticut Humane Society is a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization. EIN: 06-0667605
Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society

Copyright 2013 Connecticut Humane Society