“Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit. The roots of cruelty, therefore, are not so much strong as widespread. But the time must come when inhumanity protected by custom and thoughtlessness will succumb before humanity championed by thought. Let us work that this time may come.”
~Albert Schweitzer

WHAT DO I DO IF SEE A DOG BEING NEGLECTED OR MISTREATED?

First, call Animal Control; get the name of the person with whom you speak and ask that you get a call back to report the outcome of the investigation. If there is resistance to this, persist nicely. There is no reason you shouldn’t be informed about the result of the visit by the Animal Control Officer. If you hit a roadblock, ask when you can call back for the information.

If the animal’s condition is improved by your intervention, great; if not, call Animal Control to find out why. It is important to stay on task until the animal’s situation is improved. If Animal Control doesn’t cause the result you are hoping for, find out what department supervises Animal Control and call that department’s director; if that doesn’t generate the results needed, keep “going up the chain” of staff until you get to the County Administrator or City Manager. If you are still not satisfied, your next call should be to your representative on the Board of Supervisors or City Council and finally, if all else fails, the media.

Most importantly, remember that you will be most effective if you are professional and respectful but never give up – you may be the only advocate the neglected or mistreated animal has; you are in fact, his “voice”.

WHAT MIGHT CONSTITUTE “NEGLECT OR MISTREATMENT”?

If you see an animal without access to water, without adequate food or shelter, or chained (in jurisdictions such as Norfolk or Virginia Beach where continued chaining is illegal), or being kept or treated in any way that causes you concern, you should call Animal Control.

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED IN POLICIES AND LAWS THAT AFFECT ANIMALS?

Let your representative on the Board of Supervisors or City Council know that animals are important to you and how they vote on ordinances affecting animals matters to you. Contact your State and National representatives and do the same. Follow the development of ordinances and laws and call your representatives and let them know how you expect them to vote. You might be surprised at how much influence that single action can have.

TOOLS YOU CAN USE

The following flyers containing code requirements for water, shelter, tethering limits, and other laws to protect animals; you can print these off and use as an education tool.

HOW TO CONTACT LOCAL LEADERSHIP?

You can find contact information for City leadership, including City Council members, the City Manager, and the Police Chief on each city’s official website, as follows:

HOW TO CONTACT YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVES

Go to http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform to find out who your State Delegate or Senator is and his/her contact information.