How to identify cruelty to animals

FOUR PAWS explains


Cruelty to animals can take many different forms. These range from suffering caused by the way a pet is kept to acts of violence such as hitting or kicking.

Looking out for the physical, psychological and environmental signs can help to identify animal cruelty.

Physical signs

  • Other signs of physical abuse
  • Visible lack of upkeep (matted fur, overlong nails, etc.)
  • Hair loss, skin conditions, scabs
  • Injuries, open wounds, sores
  • Infection and disease
  • Infestation with parasites such as fleas, ticks and worms
  • Visible emaciation and malnutrition
  • Extreme weakness and generally poor physical condition

Psychological signs

Generally, abused animals are fearful of their owner, shy away from touch or become aggressive as a defence mechanism.

  • Confusion or drowsiness
  • Anxious or aggressive behaviour
  • Evasive behaviour

Environmental signs

  • Inadequate shelter
  • Lack of fresh water and food
  • Lack of proper socialisation and interaction (either with animals of the same species or with humans)
  • Signs of animal hoarding
  • Poor sanitation
  • Lack of veterinary treatment

Who detects signs of animal abuse should take initiative!

Sometimes a dialog with the owner of the animal is enough, but in some cases the responsible authorities need to be informed.

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