Animal cruelty can take many forms, but at its most basic it is: Deprivation of adequate food, water, shelter, ventilation, space, care or veterinary treatment. The animal is injured, sick, or in pain or suffering. The animal has been or is being abused or woefully neglected to the detriment of its health. Some cruelties are vindictive and deliberate, many are perpetrated due to ignorance or neglect.
If you are concerned that an animal may be in distress, do not ignore it. Your actions could help save a life. In addition to protecting the animal, you may also be protecting children or adults at risk of being harmed. NEVER hesitate to let us know of suspected cruelty: Joe Warzycha, RISPCA Animal Cruelty Investigator, firstname.lastname@example.org or (401) 438-8150, x2.
How to recognize an animal in distress
1) Thin and emaciated
Extremely thin, rib bones and hip bones are visible. This could indicate starvation or illness.
2) Little to no access to shelter, food or water
All companion, farm and captive animals of any sort should have access to food, water and shelter from the elements. See the law below.
3) Wounded or injured, either with an obvious wound, limping or moving gingerly as if it is in pain. Or you see someone actually physically abusing an animal by hitting or kicking.
4) Coat in poor condition
Could indicate a flea or tick infestation, or an illness. At the very least, there is neglect of that animal.
5) Hair badly matted
Can cause distress to an animal. Matted hair hurts. The RISPCA has had a number of cases where matting was so bad that it impeded the animal’s movement and ultimately atrophied its muscles.
6) Overgrown or neglected nails or hooves
This is Elf, a donkey that we rescued a few years ago. The picture on the left is of his overgrown hooves, and the picture on the right is Elf after treatment and care.
7) Untreated infections
Infections from eye problems, untreated wounds, etc. can go on to be irreparable, causing the loss of eyesight or a limb. For animals left untreated who live outside, such as farm animals, untreated wounds can be the target of horrific infestations of fly larvae. There is never a humane reason for an animal to go through this.
8) Tethered for more than 10 hours or on a tether any shorter than 6 feet, or tethered with a choke or prong collar.
9) Living in Squalor.