Q: My neighbors are physically mistreating animals, someone needs to do something. There are hidden crimes going on. What do we do? — W.R., Wroclaw, Poland
A: You are right about someone needing to do something, and the hope is that it all begins with you. We know that when there’s animal abuse going on in a home, there’s an increased chance that spousal and/or child abuse concurrently happening, or will soon begin to occur. Of course, abusing an animal is bad enough — and what you describe may be a felony in the U.S., In Poland, I’m unsure.
In the U.S. veterinarians finding signs of animal abuse should report what they’ve found to local law enforcement, animal control and in some places even state child welfare agencies, as that is how significant the link is between animal abuse and child abuse. Of course, people who abuse animals may not visit the veterinarian, and vets can’t report what they don’t know. However, concerned citizens can report, even anonymously.
In the U.S. the reality is that agencies may not pursue animal abuse as they should, given the connections it has to child and spousal abuse; these often underfunded agencies are often backed up with cases. Sadly, without a photo from a veterinarian or another animal professional, officials may lack the proof to do much to intercede until something really bad occurs. Still, the more neighbors who step up, the better. Several voices demand more attention than one voice.
However, I am unfamiliar with Polish animal welfare law. Contact local law enforcement, a local animal shelter and/or veterinarian.
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