Signs of Animal Abuse for Child Protection Worker and Other Human Service Personnel

Animal’s Physical Condition

  • Collar so tight that is causing an indentation in neck, or is embedded in neck
  • Open wounds or signs of multiple wounds that have healed
  • Ongoing illness or injury that appears to be untreated
  • Skin conditions that appear untreated, causing loss of hair, scaly skin, bumps or rashes or severe lack of grooming, matted fur, etc.
  • Emaciation or extreme thinness
  • Fur infested with fleas, ticks, or other parasites
  • Physical weakness, limping, or the inability to stand or walk in a normal manner
  • Heavy discharge coming from the animal’s nose  or eyes
  • Signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness

Animal’s Environment

  • Pets tied up for long periods of time without adequate food, shelter, or water
  • Animals kept outside during severe weather conditions
  • Animals are always chained
  • Pet kept in area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass, or other harmful objects

Interaction with Animal

  • History of multiple pets in short period of time
  • Pet(s) appear fearful of one or more family members
  • Observe family member shoving, kicking, or striking the animal

Be Curious

  • If you are visiting a family with pets and observe any of the above, ask questions about the pet(s). Moreover, if the pets are not visible but there are clear indications that pets reside in or outside the home, ask about the pets. For example, “It appears you have pets. Where do they usually stay? Who takes care of them? How long have you had them?” Click here for more questions about pets.
  • If what you observe or are told causes concern for the well-being of the pet, assess whether the family would be open to suggestion, such as “Your dog looks very thin. A lot of things could account for that. Has he been to see a vet recently?” If not open to suggestion, or questioning family members about this would be risky, contact your local shelter, humane society, or animal control and report your concerns. They can take it from there.

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