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VACTF Manual: Chapter 4 - Common Complaints

Abandoned Animals


Rather than take the time to find their animal a decent home or take it to the local animal shelter, some people abandon it when they move. This problem occurs in vacation rentals and college dorms as well.

You may receive a call from a concerned neighbor that people have moved away, but the neighbor hears an animal inside. You may receive a call from a landlord who discovers that an animal has been left after the tenants have moved.

Things to be aware of when investigating:

If possible, look in the windows of the property to see if you can see the animal and determine its condition. Food or water dishes may not be available to the animal, or they may be overturned. Feces may cover the floor. The animal may be tied to a chair or table. There may be no furniture in the unit. Take photographs of these conditions if possible.

What to do

See the discussion in chapter 3, Investigating an Animal Cruelty Complaint, "Abandonment".

Example 8 - Animal Abandoned in Apartment

The Complaint
A landlord called the local humane society and reported that a tenant had moved away approximately a month before. The tenant had left her dog in the apartment, but had been coming back to feed it. Now, however, the tenant had not returned for ten days.

The Response

  1. The investigator went to the premises and looked through a window and did not see any signs of food or water. In addition, the furnishings of the apartment were torn up and feces and urine were all over. It was clear that the dog had been left for some time.

  2. Based on exigent circumstances, the investigator asked the landlord for permission to enter the apartment. It was granted, and the investigator and staff from the animal rescue unit of the humane society entered the apartment and removed the dog.

  3. The investigator took photographs of the dog and applied for a search warrant to document the conditions in the apartment.

  4. A notice was left on the door informing the former tenant of the seizure and how to contact the humane society.

  5. The dog was taken to the humane society and examined by a veterinarian.

  6. The former tenant called the humane society about the dog and met with the investigator who issued her a citation to appear in court. After discussing the state of the animal, the tenant agreed to surrender the animal.

Charges Brought
The individual involved was charged with a violation of Title 13, Section 352.

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