We recently released a survey on public awareness of one of the most sickening forms of animal cruelty — dogfighting — and were surprised to discover that in NYC less than half of those who suspected the vicious activity in their communities reported it to the police. Eleven percent did nothing at all.
Reporting cruelty is vital to protecting animals and stopping abusers like Tyrike Richardson. In February, the Staten Island resident was sentenced to 15 months in jail after abusing his neighbor’s cat, Chester, mercilessly with a broom handle, posting video of the attack on Facebook, and leaving his victim in a garbage can to die. Chester survived but sustained rib fractures, broken teeth, tongue abrasions, head trauma and liver and kidney injuries.
A city’s reputation for compassion shouldn’t be measured by the crimes of those who betray animals; it should be measured by the dedication of those who respond and commit to their protection.
Signs of animal cruelty may include a collar so tight that it causes a neck wound or has become embedded in the pet’s neck, multiple wounds, emaciation, and being left outside without access to adequate food and water. Even if you’re unsure, please give the animal’s safety the benefit of the doubt and contact law enforcement.
That means calling the police before posting concerns, accusations, and evidence online. To report suspected animal cruelty in NYC, call 311. If you see a crime in progress, call 911. In both cases, the NYPD will follow up and the ASPCA will step in if necessary to care for victimized animals. Make sure to document what you saw, and know these reports can be made anonymously.
By taking on this responsibility, you’re joining NYC organizations, institutions and leaders, including Animal Care Centers of NYC; Mayor Bill de Blasio, who committed funds for a full-service animal shelter in the Bronx; and the NYPD, whose partnership with us resulted in more than 600 animal-cruelty arrests and nearly 3,000 victims treated since 2014.
The animals in our communities provide us with love and companionship. In return, we owe them our best effort to keep them safe. So please be vigilant and forward this information to others so that our city, which we share with animals and with each other, can live up to its humane reputation.
Matt Bershadker is president and CEO of the ASPCA.