What to do with abused Animals?


Type of animal:

It will be easier to get help for a companion animal, such as a dog or cat, than a farm animal because agricultural regulations give a lot of slack to farmers. However, sometimes the treatment is so bad, the authorities will  take action so it’s worth contacting them.

Type of situation:

Dog fighting is illegal in NYS. Also, extreme cruelty to companion animals is illegal. There are legal requirements for adequate shelter for dogs in NYS.


In all the above cases, your first call should be to 911. The people there are trained in triage so they should know when to refer a case to the police and when to refer to some other entity, such as the SPCA.

The reason for calling 911 is because the situation might possibly result in a criminal investigation.

After contacting 911, please also follow up by contacting one of the following entities (resources are spread thin so it is important to make a direct call to the appropriate entity after you call 911):

If you live in the city of Syracuse and are concerned that a dog doesn’t have adequate shelter or is otherwise neglected or abused, contact Officer Becky Thompson at 442-5336.

If you live outside the city but in OnondagaCounty, contact the SPCA Cruelty Investigator at at 454-3469.  The SPCA also investigates cruelty complaints from Central Square, Oswego and OneidaCounty.

If 911, the police or local SPCA won’t help and you think you have a case that requires action, here are some organizations which might be able to encourage action:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has its U.S. headquarters in Virginia but provides help throughout the U.S. through their Emergency Response Team 24/7 every day of the year. Phone the

main # (757)622-7382 and follow the prompts.

The help PETA provides varies. Examples: Sometimes they’ll phone the police or local SPCA to encourage them to take action if they haven’t been responsive. Sometimes they’ll give you advice on how you can more effectively help the animal.

In Defense of Animals is based in California but they are willing to write a letter encouraging a local SPCA or government body to take action. They also may make suggestions to help you advocate for the

animal. Call (415)448-0048.

Often, police don’t know the law well when it comes to neglect and abuse of animals. The New York State Humane Association (NYSHA) offers workshops throughout the state to educate police about this.  Call (845)336-4514 or write to NYSHA, P.O. Box 3068, Kingston, NY12402.

The  Humane Society of the U.S. has a tip line at which you can report animal fighting and a tip line at  which you can report puppy mills. Sometimes H.S.U.S. offers a reward to the tipster. (877)-TIP-

HSUS for fights. (877)-MILL-TIP for puppy  mills.

The Humane Society of the U.S. also offers advice and support to individuals and works with local law enforcement on neglect or abuse cases. Call (301)258-1515 or send message to crueltyresponse@humanesociety.org

Animal Legal Defense Fund (Cotati, CA) will sometimes help prosecute local cases. Contact them at (707)795-2533. Or use their app on your  mobile phone. “ALDF Crime Tips” App – now available for iPhone and Android – allows you to submit audio, video, picture and GPS information about animal abuse. Using its tracking device, the evidence is automatically sent to the nearest law enforcement authorities or triaged through a dedicated call center. The ALDF’s “Crime Tips” App can be downloaded free from the iTunes App and Google Play stores.

For closer (NYS) legal advice and possible representation:

John Bernacki, (585)218-9550, johnebernakijr@aol.com, takes cases throughout NYS. Will charge fee.


Depending on where the neglect or abuse is, you may want to contact an animal organization that is in Central NY but outside the OnondagaCounty area. Unless otherwise noted, all area codes are 315:

SPCA in CNY covers not only OnondagaCounty but also OneidaCounty and Central Square and Oswego. 454-3469

CayugaCountySPCA 253-5841
Parish Dog Control and Shelter 964-7728
OswegoCounty Humane Society 207-1070
Wanderer’s Rest Humane Association 697-2796
United Friends of Homeless Animals (Pulaski) 298-4733
Seneca Humane Society 568-1861
CortlandCountySPCA (607)753-9386
WayneCounty Humane Society 946-3389
TompkinsCountySPCA (607)257-1822


For small cards you can give or leave for people who need to know how to properly protect their dog from Winter cold or to warn them about the dangers of leaving a dog in a car in Summer or in

the open bed of a truck, contact  People for Animal Rights listed below.

Compiled by People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877), LDESTEFANO3@twcny.rr.com, peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org. The Spanish translation of this article was done by Rob English 

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