It's a hard thing for many pet owners to think about--especially, if your pet is a part of the family: Animal cruelty. Animal cruelty happens all over the world, and it has reared its ugly head in this area, with a recent case of animal neglect in Utica and the highly-publicised case of Apollo--the dog left outside in below-zero weather, just to name a few. The month of April is dedicated to preventing the neglect, abuse and cruelty inflicted on animals. This month is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. And, in recognition of it, experts with The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) have some signs to look for if you believe an animal to be abused.

According to a press release from The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, thoughts of abuse or neglect should not be based solely on the animal's behavior. "ASPCA experts explain that timid, fearful, or aggressive qualities in pets don't always mean they were abused," the release says.

The release also goes on to explain environmental signs to look for if one suspects an animal is abused:

"Kristen Collins from the ASPCA's Animal Behavior Center says examining the animal's surroundings provides greater insight than animals behavior. Environmental signs to look out for include:

  • Pets tied up outside for any great length of time without enough food or water
  • Animals kept in an area with garbage, feces, and objects that could cause them harm
  • Kennels or cages which are too small
  • Pets outside during inclement weather without shelter
  • Pets housed with too many other animals"

In addition to environmental signs of abuse to look for, the release lists things to look for on the animal itself:

  • Open or untreated wounds
  • Flea infested fur
  • Weakness, limpness, and inability to walk properly
  • Matted fur, overgrown or dirty coat and nails; signs of inadequate grooming
  • A collar which is too tight
  • Signs of extreme drowsiness or confusion
  • Scaly, patchy, or bumpy skin and rashes"

If abuse is suspected, call a local animal shelter or police department and report it. When reporting abuse, the release recommends to "try and provide the agent with a written account of what you witnessed and approximate times if possible."