Stop the Abuse: What to do if you witness animal cruelty

Stop the Abuse: What to do if you witness animal cruelty
Despite what looks like an uphill battle, animal advocacy groups do believe there are ways to slim the chances of abuse. (Photo source: WLOX)

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Witnessing animal abuse isn't something Lisa Evans ever thought would happen to her.

"The dog came around the front and got behind his right tire, and he stomped on the gas, and he hit the dog with his grill and his right tire, and it flipped him underneath the truck," Evans said.

Evans and a group of others picked up the dog and took it to a veterinarian. Her actions that chilly January morning in Hurley saved the pups life and could result in legal action for the alleged abuser.

"They do know who it was, and they asked if I would testify, and I said 'yes,'" Evans said.

It's something we're now seeing happen more and more on videos posted to social media. One recently surfaced showing a man allegedly beating a dog in his truck. Another showed a cat being scalded to death.

"Sharing those videos is a very double edge sword," said Dawn Boob, Director of Operations at the Humane Society of South Mississippi

Boob said while organizations like the Humane Society are working to prevent these incidents from happening altogether, they're also turning their focus to educating people on what to do if they witness or suspect animal abuse and how to report it.

"It's really important that they follow the correct steps by contacting their animal control officer, because they're the only ones who can legally take these animals," Boob said.

Boob said getting justice goes beyond just reporting the incident.

"It needs to be documented, and it needs to be documented correctly so that we can take them to court," Boob said.

Documentation that builds strong evidence to support prosecution is needed.

"Sometimes it's taking pictures. Sometimes it's in their housing. Sometimes it's the physical state of the animals," Boob said.

Over at the Jackson County Animal Shelter, they're promoting the same thing.

"I always recommend never to confront the owner and just be hostile about the situation. Come to us, let our officers go out there, get whatever proof you can, and let us handle it," said shelter clerk Brooke Monk.

Those who work there describe the cases they see as heartbreaking.

Maridee Mallette, the shelter's adoption coordinator, said on a day-to-day basis, she interacts with animals that are the victims of abuse

"She had scars all over her and cuts, and you can see them on her feet everywhere, on her elbows. It's almost like she was thrown out of a car," Mallette said.

We may never know who inflicted those wounds.

"We get a lot of these. We get a lot of dogs that have been thrown out and abused, and we don't know who did it," Mallette said.

That also means there is no one to charge.

"I wish you knew what was going on. I wish they could tell us," Mallette said.

Despite what looks like an uphill battle, animal advocacy groups do believe there are ways to slim the chances of abuse.

"People need to get their animals spayed and neutered. A lot of misbehavior from animals stems from them not being spayed and neutered. Also, it's education. Education is key to getting the animals the right resources, getting the owners the right resources," Boob said.

When that doesn't work, bring those unwanted pets to a shelter so they can find a new home before it escalates to abuse or neglect.

While advocates believe doing these things will help the problem, they collectively agree the biggest deterrent for preventing these horrible acts comes with stricter punishments for those who commit animal abuse.

For now, they'll depend on people like Evans who are willing to go out of their way to intervene on behalf of our furry, four-legged friends.

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