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Subtle (and Not so Subtle) Signs of Animal Abuse

Dog resting chin in owner's hand

Animal lovers everywhere are understandably outraged by stories and photographs of abused or neglected animals. For loving pet owners, it’s inconceivable to think of harming an animal, but signs of abuse and neglect can be subtle; it could be happening right under our very noses. That’s why we want to take a moment to review the subtle and less subtle signs of animal abuse in the home.



Signs of Animal Abuse

Besides witnessing the abuse first-hand, it can be hard to tell when there’s cause for concern. The following are likely signs of animal abuse:

  • Tucked tail, flinches at human contact
  • Unexplained fractures or limping
  • Unprovoked aggression, whining, or whimpering
  • Overly submissive (rolling onto back, tail tucked, urinating)
  • Suddenly avoiding any physical contact
  • Attempts to bite or scratch when petted

Some signs that an animal is being neglected can include:

  • Changes in appearance, such as fur loss, dull texture, or mange
  • Very skinny or sickly looking
  • Obvious wounds or injuries that remain untreated
  • Being left in a kennel or chained outside exclusively

What You Can Do

Animal abuse can be a touchy issue, but it should always be taken seriously. If you suspect or notice any signs of animal abuse, please contact West Park Animal Hospital immediately.

Young children can inadvertently hurt a pet, which is why it’s important to educate them on proper handling techniques and how to respect animals in general. If you know or suspect an older child is intentionally harming a pet as a means of coping with trauma or intense emotions, please seek professional help right away.

Protecting Pets

Alerting the proper authority is the best way to help an animal that’s being abused. If you know or suspect that someone is abusing or neglecting an animal, please call the cruelty hotline of the  Cleveland Animal Protective League (216-377-1630) and leave a detailed message. You can also contact your local police department and file a complaint.

In Ohio, animal abuse and neglect used to be considered a misdemeanor, but the law changed in 2009 – it’s now a fifth-degree felony offense. This means that anyone convicted will face six to twelve months in jail and pay a fine of up to $2,500. While it may seem difficult to report a case of animal abuse, especially if it involves someone you know, remember that you may be the only chance a pet has at finding safety and a better life.

Preventing Cruelty to Animals

Educating the next generation is one of the most effective ways to prevent animal cruelty. Instilling a sense of empathy and highlighting the value of life is essential when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable members of society.
Please contact the team at West Park Animal Hospital if you have any questions or concerns. We appreciate all you do to make the world a safer place for animals!

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