April is National Prevent Cruelty to Animals Month. Join us in raising awareness by educating yourself about the signs of animal abuse and neglect and what you should do if you see it. Remember, animal cruelty and neglect can occur anywhere. Although the reasons behind abuse vary, the signs of it often do not. Below is a list of physical and environmental signs to look for if you suspect an animal is being abused or neglected. Keep in mind these traits can apply to any animal in any setting, urban or rural.

Signs of Animal Cruelty/Abuse and Neglect

  • Extremely thin or emaciated, bones potentially visible
  • Open wounds on the body or signs of multiple healed or untreated wounds
  • Untreated skin conditions that show loss of hair, bumps, rashes, or scaly skin
  • Fur that shows extreme matting or is over grown, flea or tick infestation, overgrown nails, flystrike (open wounds on ears and nose caused by biting flies) or an extremely dirty coat
  • Limping, weakness, or an inability to stand or walk in a normal fashion
  • Abandoned animals or pets left repeatedly alone without food, water, or adequate shelter; frequently these are locked in the yard
  • Collars or chains so tight they have caused wounds or become embedded in the animal’s neck
  • Heavy discharge from eyes or nose
  • Witnessing an owner striking or physically abusing an animal
  • Any sort of intentional animal fighting
  • Visible and consistent signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness
  • Injured or sick animals that have not received medical care
  • Pet areas that are littered with objects that could be harmful to the animal including, but not limited to, feces, garbage and broken glass.
  • Animals left in kennels and cages that don’t allow for proper movement like standing and turning around
  • Animal hoarding or confining too many animals to a small space creating unsanitary conditions

Following is a list of agencies to call in Central Ohio if you suspect an animal is being abused. Most organizations will take tips anonymously. However, in order to prosecute a repeat or serious offender you may be asked to testify in court. If you are unsure of what information you will need when reporting abuse or neglect, read these tips provided by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Capital Area Humane Society (Franklin County)
(614) 777-7387 ext. 250 (Voicemail is available 24 hours a day)

Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ohio SPCA)
Phone: (
740) 420-2984

Humane Society of Delaware County
Phone: (740) 369-7387 or email hsdchumaneagent@gmail.com

Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio (Champaign, Marion, Hardin, and Union Counties)

Franklin County Animal Care and Control (For Stray and Loose Dogs Only)
(614) 525-3400

Remember, the only way to stop animal cruelty is to report it. Many communities have agencies you can call for help. If you believe a situation constitutes an emergency (or there is no agency in your area), contacting the local police department is always an appropriate response. Animals cannot speak for themselves. It is up to us to ensure that all animals are treated with the respect and care that comes with pet ownership. — Mike Griffin

Learn more about animal cruelty and what you can do to make a difference from the ASPCA.

Information on signs of abuse was compiled from the following websites: ASPCA and Capital Area Humane Society