Suspect Animal Cruelty?


Think your voice doesn’t matter, that you are just one person? Think again. Here are some steps to get started.

General Guidelines:

  • 1. Come to Animal Outreach Club meetings and find out how to be an effective animal advocate. If you can’t make meetings, read on!
  • 2. In an animal cruelty case in which an arrest has already been made, Google the town and find out who the District Attorney is. You can make a polite phone call to District Attorneys to ask that New York animal cruelty laws be enforced to fit the crime. It helps to be informed about the law.  In New York State the animal cruelty laws are located in Article 26 of the Agriculture and Markets Law.  Here is a link (copy and paste):   Here is a helpful PowerPoint on recognizing, reporting and investigating animal cruelty:
  • 3. When calling District Attorneys regarding animal cruelty cases, express that you are a concerned citizen and the link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence is well-established.  Animal abusers need to be stopped in their tracks and the laws need to be enforced.  Be aware of criminal defense tactics. Mere hearsay is not enough to warrant an investigation, an arrest or conviction.  Witnesses need to come forward with first hand knowledge. Facts and evidence are critical.  They make or break a case.
    • If you see something, be willing to make a sworn statement to police, NOT ANIMAL CONTROL.  Animal control enforce Article 7, dog license, leash and dangerous dog laws.  Animal control officers generally have no legal authority to make animal cruelty arrests unless they are also peace officers.  Under Section 371 of Article 26, POLICE are mandated to enforce the animal cruelty laws in New York State.
  • 4. Find out who your state and federal legislators are.  They need your votes to stay in office and most care about animal issues but are pulled in many directions.  Make an appointment to discuss strengthening animal cruelty laws, especially with state legislators as most animal protection laws are at the state level; or propose new laws.  Well-informed, educated, persistent voters get heard.
  • 5. Attending town meetings (from the The Humane Society of the United States toolkit).  A large and well-informed turnout at a town hall meeting or a community forum is an extremely effective way to send a strong message to your congressperson, the media, and the general public (via the media).
  • 6. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.  Elected officials and law enforcement need to know animal protection is important to the community.  Usually these letters are 300-500 words, so you do not have to write a huge article!  Consider doing this, and see tips for writing letters to the editors of newspapers.
  • 7. Create a voting bloc for animal protection issues.  For example, check out the Michigan Political Alliance Committee for Animals , League of Humane Voters and Humane Party of the United States.

Helpful Links to Guide You:

If You Suspect Animal Cruelty:

  • Call the police.  In New York State, POLICE are mandated to enforce the animal cruelty laws.  You may feel uncertain of how to proceed, and that is ok.  Be willing to tell the police what you know.  Many cruelty cases go unresolved because witnesses are afraid to talk to the police.  That does not help the animals.  People need to come forward.
  •   If you have questions, learn more about investigating and following up on animal cruelty cases in New York by using the Animal Law, Advocacy and Policy Subject Guide, or call faculty advisor Valerie Lang Waldin at 518.478.1505,

Action Alerts: