9 Things to Do if You Witness Cruelty to Animals

Posted on by PETA

Witnessing cruelty to animals is an upsetting experience, but knowing how to handle the situation properly can save a life and prevent the abuser from harming other victims. Here are nine things to do if you see someone abuse an animal:

1. Remain calm and get veterinary care. Please don’t assume that someone else will help. An abused animal may need immediately veterinary care, without which, he or she may suffer for a long time or die from his or her injuries. If you must leave the animal momentarily, ask someone you trust to stay with him or her while you’re gone and return as soon as possible with help. Check out our guidance on what to do if you spot an animal in distress.

2. Speak up, because if you don’t, who will? If you see a chained dog, befriend his or her guardians and help them make positive changes to care for their animal companion and to allow him or her to live indoors. If children are throwing stones at birds, don’t hesitate to tell them to stop and explain why it’s wrong to hurt animals. Check out these other tips on what to do about chained dogs.

3. Know the law. Familiarise yourself with animal-protection laws by visiting the websites of the Animal Welfare Board of India  and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

4. Document the crime. The second you see that something is wrong, take a photo or video with your cell phone to document the details if you can, and be sure to capture important information such as license plate numbers and a visual of the abuser. Collect witnesses if you can, and get statements from experts, such as veterinarians, about the animal’s physical condition or cause of death.

5. File a first information report (FIR) with the police immediately. 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. If you don’t know how to file a FIR, this guide will help.  The police are required to take your FIR. If in spite of this, your FIR isn’t registered, take the matter up with the Superintendent of Police or other higher-level officers, such as the Deputy Inspector General of Police or the Inspector General of Police. You can also file a private complaint with the court.

6. Notify other appropriate authorities. In addition to law-enforcement officials, think about other authorities you could file a complaint with. For example, if you witness cruelty to animals at a tourist site, notify the Minister of Tourism of the state you’re in. If someone is abusive to wildlife, contact a forest officer via your state’s forest department, or if the abuse occurred on a college campus, get in touch with the dean. Contact details of such officials can usually be found easily on the Internet.

7. Contact animal-protection groups. Local animal-protection groups, veterinarians and animal-welfare officers can provide you with further assistance. You can use PETA’s helpful links to online directories.

8. Be persistent. Don’t let criminals get away with abusing animals. Follow up with local authorities about your case, meet with officials and consider contacting the media to generate coverage and momentum. You can even seek legal counsel if necessary and take your case to court. Many lawyers are willing to help animals for free – you just need to ask.

9. Thank the people who helped. Share victories with others, and acknowledge the people who helped you obtain justice for animals so that they will be motivated and inspired to help more animals in the future.

If you need more help or are ever unsure of what to do, please call our office for help on 022 4072 7382 between 9:30 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday, or write to us at [email protected]. If you’re calling after hours, please call our emergency number: (0) 98201 22602.