Most people who own dogs find it extremely hard to understand why anyone would want to hurt or mistreat a canine friend. It's even harder to fathom why somebody might want to do this intentionally let alone though ignorance and negligence. Sadly, it does happen and all too often, dogs have to be rescued from some of the most awful conditions and in a terrible state both mentally and physically.
The problem is that more often than not, people think of a dog as a possession rather than a sentient being and as such their owners really believe their pets do not feel pain or discomfort. These same people also think they are allowed to do what they want with their “possessions” and that it is nobody else's business what they do. Fortunately, dogs and other animals are more protected than they were in the past which means owners can be prosecuted for treating them badly, neglecting them or abusing them.
Dogs that are being treated cruelly should never be ignored and there are things you can do to prevent this from happening. Any dog lover or other person who suspects that someone is mistreating their pet should contact the authorities immediately and can do so anonymously if it makes them feel more comfortable about things. The important thing is to stop people who abuse dogs from getting away with it and the sooner they are reported the better it is for the poor dog involved.
It's important to understand the laws that protect animals in the UK and how “cruelty” to a dog is perceived by the authorities. It's important because many dog owners would not dream of leaving their pet outside in the cold, chained up to a post by a dog house when the weather is dreadfully cold, wet and windy. However, some people do just this and as long as the poor dog has a shelter, it is generally not considered to be cruel.
The two main signs of a dog being abused are when they are subjected to some form of violence and when they are obviously being neglected by their owners. All too often where physical violence is concerned, it can be quite hard to detect because you cannot get close enough to the dog to check them over. However, where neglect is concerned as soon as you notice a dog is too thin or if they have runny eyes and noses or if they live in their own mess, then you can report them to the authorities and should do so straight away.
Other things to watch out which could be perceived as abuse are as follows:
If you suspect someone of abusing or mistreating a dog, you can report them in several ways to the right authorities. It is far safer to do this than to confront the person yourself because you don't know how the person will react to your interference. If it is a real emergency, you have to call the emergency number for the RSPCA in England, but if you live in Scotland, the right people to call are the SSPCA. Failing that you should call the police.
You have to give as many details as you can when you report a dog being mistreated, but you can request that you remain anonymous if the person is a neighbour. The authorities have to follow through on the report and should then let you know when they visited the person you suspect is abusing their pet and they should inform of any action they take against them. You should also be told what happens to the dog concerned.
You can also report abuse to the authorities through their websites which is the best way if it is not an emergency, but if you feel you need to ask for advice, then you can always call their non-emergency number.
This is a difficult subject because taking photos of a person without their permission can land you in trouble. However, if the person is not around and it is safe for you to take photos of the dog concerned without trespassing on the property, then you should collect as many as you can as evidence of them being abused. These images can really be a help should the person ever be taken to court because they could be used as evidence of their cruelty towards their dog.
Sadly, the RSPCA and other organisations are overwhelmed with the number of dogs and other pets that are in desperate need of help which means that all too often some dogs get left behind because they don't appear to need as much help as other dogs do. This is where persistence comes into play, in short you should never give up reporting a dog you think is being abused or mistreated by their owners.
There are many breed related rescue centres which are run by people who are only too happy to step in if it means rescuing a dog from abuse. The good news is you can find their contact details online and more often than not they have people local to where you live who would be able to mount an investigation and rescue a dog should they have to do so.