There are no hard and fast rules when you investigate animal cruelty; you must use your best judgement in each situation. However, in all situations, we recommend your response be guided by the following concerns:
Be aware of the following general considerations when investigating cruelty complaints:
These observations will provide you with an idea of what to expect with regards to the condition of the animals as well as clues as to where you might ask to look.
Throughout this manual, wherever we refer to "owner," the term includes anyone responsible for the care of the animal, as well as the owner himself.
When you confront an owner with an animal cruelty complaint, his or her response can range from cooperation to outrage. Be prepared for anything. Keep in mind that short of being caught in the act of beating their dog, owners generally will not admit to mistreating or neglecting their animals, or they will find excuses for why it happened. It is important to remember this when confronting an individual.
You may be faced with a situation in which animals are in very bad condition. You may have obtained signed statements attesting to the animals' condition, in addition to your own observations. If it is a situation where you anticipate that confronting the owner first will cause him to remove the animals before you have a chance to obtain a search warrant, consider obtaining the search warrant beforehand.
If the animals are in plain view, consider taking photographs of them from a location where you are not trespassing. Submitting the photographs along with the search warrant application will enhance your chances of obtaining a search warrant. The photographs will also be useful as evidence in your case.
The following scenarios can be used for guidance in investigating any animal cruelty complaints: i.e. complaints relating to house pets or farm animals on private property; animals that are part of a circus; animals at county fairs; or animals in a pet store.
The scenarios are based on the assumption that you have received a complaint (anonymously or not) about an animal or that you have personally observed a situation in which an animal is being neglected or abused. The scenarios cover the following situations:
At the end of this section, we have provided samples of the types of excuses you will hear when you confront a person with the neglect or abuse of their animal.
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