What should you do when you see someone mistreating their dog?

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My 10-year-old grandson is visiting from Boston and we went for a bike ride today at midday, to a local park. We were riding along a path and saw a woman walking ahead of us with a puppy on a leash and a young girl, maybe three or four years old. As we got closer, I could see that the woman was wearing a hands-free leash – one of those commercial products made for people who jog with their dogs, a waist belt with the leash attached to it. And as I got closer yet, I could see that she was essentially pulling the puppy behind her. The pup was on his feet, but was obviously hot and scared and was resisting at every step.

I took my phone off its handlebar mount and took this picture from a distance. I made an assumption – that this person was not going to be interested in dog-training advice or a stranger’s opinion about practically dragging what looked to be a 4-month-old puppy in the middle of a pretty warm day. And if I saw anything worse, I was going to call my friends at the city animal control department. After I took the picture, I called out in my best cheerful voice, “Hi, coming through on bikes!”

The woman immediately stepped to the side of the path and held her hand out to the little girl (presumably her daughter). She smiled as my grandson and I rode slowly by, and I smiled back and said, “What a cute puppy! But he doesn’t look very happy…”

Her smile disappeared immediately. “He’s getting leash trained,” she said firmly. And then added, “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.”

Ah, the dilemma of what to do about what we consider to be training that is, at a very minimum, certain to be ineffective and counterproductive – when we see it in public.

In this case, I didn’t stay to talk to the woman. Her response and demeanor were so determined – so not open to further discussion – that I kept pedaling slowly, before stopping 100 yards or so away to see what the woman did next. Just a minute later, she put the pup and little girl into a car and drove out of the park.

My grandson and I biked to a spot nearby, where we put the bikes down and took a quick dip in the river. As we biked home, we talked about the woman and her pup a bit more. I told my grandson, “It’s like seeing some parent do something pretty mean to their kid. You don’t want to say nothing, but you don’t want to make them even madder.”

I also assured him that if the puppy had actually been getting pulled off his feet, or if she had yanked on the leash or hit him, I would have taken some video and called animal control. “Some people just suck,” said my grandson and I agree! How could she not see that dragging the puppy along by force was not going to result in a dog who trusts or even wants to be with her and her daughter. How could that treatment possibly result in a dog who has good feelings about going on a walk with them?

Does anyone have the perfect thing to say to someone in this situation? Does anyone know a course of action that wouldn’t just make matters worse?

64 COMMENTS

  1. Yes. Me too. I once saw someone jogging with their dog in 90+ temperatures on black top and mentioned something about it being such a hot day and how black top gets dangerously hot for the paws of dogs. He just gave me a nasty look and kept on jogging.

  2. I have spent a lot of time training my standard poodle. She is now a certified therapy dog visiting an assisted living facility and listening to exceptional children read. Yet when I took her to the farmers market on a hot day because we were already out, I didn’t realize how hot the asphalt was to her paws. I was grateful when a vendor told me that my dog needed to be in the shade! So keep telling people when you see a dog in distress!

  3. Ha! I’m not the one to ask. Years ago, I’d just recently moved into my house and was walking my dog when I saw a neighbor hitting her dog with a broom. I stopped and called, “Hey! Stop that right now! If I EVER see you do that again, I’ll grab that broom and hit you with it. How would you like it?” I never saw her do anything like it again, 25 years have passed, we’re still neighbors and now even friendly acquaintances. My girlfriends loved that story because they say it’s SO me. They know I would do exactly what I said. Still would, even though I’m an old lady now! 😹

  4. My approach after complimenting the dog (ie. how cute, what a handsome pup, how pretty, etc) is to say something like, “Wow, my pup really enjoys her walks when I bring treats and water and have her walk beside me. That way I can point out all the great places to sniff and we practice focus and loose leash walking that way” or in the case of the afternoon jogger, “Wow, running on pavement would be too hot for my pup. I always try to jog at a park with lots of grass or at the beach so my pup can cool off.” This approach allows for open communication instead of the person becoming defensive and shutting down.

  5. I consistently get out of my car or wherever I am and first admire their dog and then try to help them understand that the dog is confused and scared because they are not giving direction. I try to help them but generally it goes like the above. They either get hostile or sometimes we have a conversation. Depends on the person. These people probably know at some level they are not doing the right thing. I have called the MSPCA when I saw a black dog tethered in the hot sun with no shade or water and when I went by that house in the future I did not see the dog.
    I have called the police when I see dogs in parking lots trapped in cars. I have also alerted the store management with the make, model, color and tag of the car to announce to customers in store that a dog is in distress.
    I am unafraid of confrontation and typically get cussed at. So be it.

  6. I have spoken up when I see someone walking a dog in extreme heat and on hot asphalt…some had no clue and were grateful, others gave me a nasty look and told me to mind my own business. I did witness someone kick his dog and threaten “the belt” – I didn’t really know him, and I felt uncomfortable confronting him as I was alone. I’d like to hear some other responses.

  7. I am very vocal when it comes to seeing a dog in distress. I do think people want help , but some have no dog sense at all.
    We have to keep in mind..~ what is the best thing I can do for this dog (thru the owner)
    Kill them with kindness (the human) first..
    Then make your gentle suggestions. Many times the human will thank me and go on, hopefully thinking about our conversation.
    I have speed dial #1 my local animal control and I do use it when all else fails.. Keep advocating for the animals.

    • I was camping and took a video of a guy treating his dog poorly. He didn’t know about the video until: I told him he needed to stop or I would call the Park Rangers and police !
      He said go ahead, no proof. I told him there was witnesses. I called, showed the video and walked away. I was headed home shortly, got his name and everything in case he wanted to visit me later. Gave a copy to local police for a heads up in case of stupidity.

  8. Society has drawn a hard line between those who are reasonable, logical, approachable, and open to other points of view AND those who are not. This line unfortunately seems to drive right down every aspect of life. There are people with whom you can calmly discuss and exchange ideas and learn and grow from. There are other people for whom anything other than purely superficial conversation is the beginning of a confrontation. Sadly I have reached a point where I focus on myself and my dogs and out happiness. I donate money to countless animal causes but I don’t have the energy to tell people “please walk your dog on a leash”. Because I am not prepared for the ensuing confrontation so I just look and walk the other way.

    • Quick update. Off leash dog came after my dogs. Owners no where in site. About 10 minutes later two teenage girls came out and started yelling at me. I called animal control. I video taped and took pictures. Here’s the kicker animal control can not do a thing. I have to go to the magistrate and file some paperwork and then go to court. Then they get a $50 fee to pay. That’s it!

  9. I be am the one who will usually step in with a polite suggestion in this type of situation. What I receive back is a nasty comment that they know what they are doing. So I have to just leave it at that. However, anytime I see a dog being hit or physically harmed, I confront the perpetrator and while it usually becomes nasty, I do tell them that if I ever see them do it again, they will be video’d and the police called. I’ve recently had two encounters with people that had their dogs on retractable leashes allowing their dog to pull out and “visit” a clients dog that we are training with. I’m greeted with the response of “my dog likes meeting other dogs and is friendly”. When I ask them to please move their dog back, that I don’t know their dog and I don’t want it in the face of my dog (clients dog), I’ve been told I don’t know what I’m talking about. Then we get into the kindergarten fight of I’m telling people the wrong thing, it’s not true that it’s offensive to the other dog when their dog gets in their space and in their face. If the dog is small enough, I pick it up and walk off. Sometimes the dog is large, so then I step in between the dogs so their dog can’t get to my clients dog. The sad thing is my clients are all frozen because they have no idea what to do. People these days not only think they are untitled, but I guess their dog is as well. Unfortunately, I’ve not found a polite way to do offer suggestions or make requests without the other person being a jerk.

    • Your client may not know what to do, but you have just shown them. When they are in that situation without you, they will remember what you did. I also step in between the dogs, having seen my trainer do that.

      • Guess what? It’s natural and healthy for dogs to say hello to each other. Their walks are an opportunity for them to socialize and guess what, dogs need to do that to be well adjusted and happy. How about letting your dog have a bloody social life? How would you like to be aggressively blocked or yanked away every time you want to talk to a friend? You people are sick, you are the problem. That is emotional abuse.

        • You’ve no idea what you’re talking about. It’s all fine and well until one dog decides to get into it with the other in the name of “a bloody(!) social life”. The average person is not dog savvy enough to read their own dogs, let alone other people’s dogs.
          Your attitude is the problem here and your so called “advice” puts people and dogs in danger.

    • How about saying “my dog was just exposed to kennel cough, it’s highly contagious and has high vet bills”. You’re not really lying (kennel cough is everywhere). I bet they pull their dog back fast!

      • How about just allowing the poor dog to have a social life?`How would you like to be on the leash of someone who was always yanking you off your feet every time you wanted to talk to a friend? That is sick and emotionally abusive.

    • Dogs are social animals and need socialization. 99% of the people I see abusing their dogs are the people like you, who never even let thier dog sniff or say hello to another dog whilst out on walks. This is emotional abuse. Those are also the same people I see yanking their dogs off their feet if they “disobey” by wanting (quite naturally) to say hello to another dog, and such like. If you want to train your dog, don’t do it in the street where people and other dogs are walking around. OF COURSE the dog being trained will want to say hello. What you are training these people is that they should never allow their dog to say hello to other dogs in the street, and that is emotional abuse. These dogs are starved for socialization. And invariably their owners are always control freaks yanking their dogs away from the slightest socialization. That is not how to make a healthy or even happy dog, that’s how you make a dog who is miserable. That is emotional abuse.

  10. With children and animals we should never be silent. Most people immediately become defensive – too bad. Just stay calm, be kind, use a gentle tone of voice, but be firm. I recently saw a large black dog on a small third story balcony in full aun with no shade. He was whining & clawing at the two glass doors which had curtains drawn closed on both. I had no idea how long he had been out there. Then he began to howl. I would have gone to the front door and risked being threatened by the owner but I was able to find the HOA management company’s phone number. Apparently these people have done this before. The HOA management was on it immediately and the dog was off of the balcony shortly there after. I am constantly disappointed in people like this and tired of the ‘COVID’ excuse.
    SAY SOMETHiNG for the dog’s sake.

  11. My sister is aggressive when people mistreat their pets. Yells at them. But sometimes it works. I try to explain to them why they shoudn’t do it using experiences (like telling them when we got a dog who was in a hot car foaming at the mouth out of the car. Or telling them that people will often steal dogs out of cars). The leash thing is a little harder. Usually when I tell them about the car they are pretty nice about it. I guess I’d try both. BUT I think it is better to call animal control. They have some authority and training behind them. People are getting really mean even to each other now so I think animals are having a really bad time of it.

  12. I have confronted someone who was acting mean to their dog and being a real bully. Dog was not coming back when called and when it did eventually return the owner got hold of its half check collar and was twisting it tight around the dog’s neck whilst effing and blinding at it. I spoke to him even though I knew that he would speak to me in the same offensive way which he did.
    I wrote down his number plate, reported him to the police (public order offence) and to the RSPCA (they did nothing). The most important thing I did was to post about the incident on local social media including dog’s name and breed, type of car (though not the number plate) and description of owner. That way local dog walkers will be looking out for this dog. Police visited him and of course he denied the incident but at least he knows that people are watching him to ensure his dog is not ill-treated in public at least.
    I bought a Go-Pro body camera to wear whilst out walking my dogs-too many horrible owners about.

  13. I tend to try to kill them with kindness until it’s a matter of actual safety for the dog. I will admire their dog. Ask about their age, breed, etc… owners love to. Talk about their dog and its would give the dog a break while I could simultaneously assess it. I always have water on me and offer to other trail dogs so that wouldn’t stop me here. After hopefully a positive interaction, I might say something to the effect of…”it’s our job as pro trainers to be up to date on the latest and most effective methods of training, unless this is your line of work, you’re dog a disservice to your pup by trying to do that yourself. Why not pay for their expertise? If anything you’ll build a relationship with a pet care specialist who can help you with resources along your dog’s developmental stages such as the teenage years, socialization, off-leash training, and continue training in the home. It takes a team, just a child requires an outside instructor.
    Then I would invite her to contact me if she had any questions or if she’d like the link the outstanding database of R+ Trainers & Walkers to contact me anytime. Then I hand my card as I’m walking away.

    • Wonderful answer! But I need to point out that MANY people simply cannot afford to pay for training [especially now with inflation hurting us all]. I don’t know the answer to that. In my case, although not a professional trainer, I believe firmly in gentle training and have successfully shown several folks how to have fun with their dogs… etc. In one instance I offered to show the gentleman how it’s done and thankfully he took me up on my offer when I told him I wouldn’t charge him. I live in an economically challenged area where there just is no ‘extra’ money for such things. Since I am not a pro, I don’t ever charge, but I do have cards that say “Dogs just wanna have fun!. Give me a call and I’ll show you how!” Sometimes it works – other times we wind up chatting as I give my card to the person. Other times the card is thrown on the ground as they drag the dog along behind them. I get boiling mad when I see abuse and this is the only thing I have come across that makes ME feel better!

  14. I used to hear a man shout at his dog in a very mean tone of voice when out walking my dogs. I chose to send him an anonymous letter (cowardly perhaps, but safe) telling him that if I ever heard him shout at his dog again I would report him for animal abuse. I never heard him shout again. Now I have neighbors who shout at their dogs. They take them out in the front of the house, off leash, and then if they wander toward us, or a dog being walked, the person with the dog shouts at it in a nasty voice. I know they love their dogs, they are just not well informed about appropriate ways to treat them. I don’t dare talk to them about their dogs because I’m afraid of them. If I ever find a really non-confrontational way to talk with them I will, but I don’t want them to get angry or defensive.

  15. Some of these responses indicate thoughtfulness and caring as we all do re our pups. But others….well, put yourself in the dogmom or dad position. Because I’ve been there and you can not ever know exactly what that person’s life or position or circumstances are. Yes this may be a minority opinion, and yes I COULD leave my pup at home, but I do know what I am doing, and would never put my pup at risk. She loves going in the car, has an insulated winter coat, and our car which is small, does hold the heated air or a/c air well. In addition, I am well aware of how long I have left her for and never stay long at any one place. She is the most important being in my life and those who know me know I would never ever endanger her well being. On one particular day a friend was in the hospital, in ICU and I was only going to pop in for a few minutes. When I came back some no doubt well meaning POS left a message via a written note on my windshield letting me know what kind of horrible person I was and that I didn’t deserve to have any pet…and more. It was already an upsetting time with my friend in ICU, this person had no clue as to when I arrived and left, and had I confronted them I would not have hesitated in calling the police to report harassment. Another time I regularly would take my break at work late in the day. I did not work far from home, and would pick my pup up, bring her back to finish the day’s work (typically no more than 45-60 minutes of course only when the temperature was not too cold or hot. Our office was on the ground floor and has windows so I can look out and check or pop back outside and check on her. She always has water accessible as well. Well one early spring day, a coworker aware of my having brought her back, took it upon herself to call the police whose dept was right around the corner, and they sent an officer, as they have to. Our entire office where I worked over 25 years, knows how I cherish and protect my little one(s), but this one person who really is an animal advocate, as am I, I strongly suspect is the one who made the call. The officer came into the building clearly having checked my license tag registration and was asking for me by name. HE had no proof of the temp in my car, and clearly my pup was in no distress and absolutely fine, but he insisted I could not do that, and actually sat in his patrol car watching until I left with her…which I did after taking her out so he could see how fine she was, and then popped back in the office long enough to grab my purse and turn my computer off. SOMEtimes people just need to mind their own business.

    • Why not re-frame this by remembering how many people are out there who, out of ignorance or carelessness, *don’t* take the precautions you feel you do. Animal advocate that you are, you would want someone to speak up for those dogs, wouldn’t you?

      The passerby had no way of knowing you weren’t one of those people and were taking precautions. So instead of taking the note as “harassment” of you personally, just let it go if you think it doesn’t apply to you, and be happy it might truly help the next dog.

      Consider how it might look to someone who passed by on the way to an appointment, then returned 45 minutes later and saw the dog still there. They’d have no way to know that, say, you’d been out every 15 minutes to check temp and that water bowl didn’t get upended.

  16. Interfering can be like walking on a tightrope, but too bad. Yes, come from the approach as a helper, not pointing fingers at what we know is horrific behavior. Some people just view dogs as something they ‘own’. Wonder if this lady would ‘train’ her child the same way?
    These poor dogs are victims of ignorance.

  17. I would have continued the conversation in as professional manner possible. I would also have to be willing to walk away without resolution. Becoming an instigator of trouble is different than reaching out to truly help and perhaps open her eyes. And yes sugar gets way more favorable response than vinegar, so finding things to compliment her for is a great start. Then move into – “phew its hot out, I bet the puppy is getting hot too, did you know their feet…..blah blah blah? Would it be better for you to walk in the morning in and evening when it s cooler for all of you?”

  18. A neighbor was walking her dog at noon …..on the road and the dog was picking up each foot really high ……I was driving by and had just heard on the radio that is was the hottest day of the year so far……I rolled down the window and said “I just heard it is the hottest day of the year the road may be really hot today” she gave me the finger. Now every time she sees me she gives me the finger……she is still walking the dog on the road no matter the weather…..ughhhh yes some people just suck at being human.

  19. I was sitting at a light in my car and saw a guy across the street standing on a grass verge, talking to a friend. He was positioned so that his dog was on the asphalt, picking up its feet, trying to avoid the heat. I rolled down the window and yelled, “Hey, your dog’s feet are burning!” This one had a happy ending. He looked down at his dog and immediately moved him to the grass, then waved a thank you to me. There’s really no argument to being told your dog is in pain and seeing it for yourself.

    In that vein, I suppose Nancy could have yelled, “Hey, your dog’s having a hard time keeping up with you!” acting like the owner was simply unaware and that she was being helpful rather than accusatory. After all, the dog was behind the owner so she couldn’t see it. She could even follow up with “No offense, I just thought you’d want to know.” And then go with the “whatacutedogwhat’shisnamehowoldishe” blah blah blah before the woman could get angry.

  20. I did not read the comments. But really people. We have laws in Ohio against this cruelty! The Goddard Law after a huge advocate Dick Goddard. I’m sure other states have laws. Really really really. People do NOTHING! Get a grip! Take photos and videos. Get the license plate # and report to the authorities. I think people have to take a stand instead of doing nothing. How else are these MORONS going to pay for being IDIOTS! Let’s see maybe we should put the owners on a leash and drag them behind a car!!!!

  21. My advice is to be as pleasant as possible and honest. I would say, ‘because your puppy is behind you perhaps you aren’t aware he is having a difficult time keeping up. This could cause his young bones stress, he can easily overheat and if he is forced to run he could be damaged permanently’. If she replied don’t worry, I know what I’m doing. I would say,’ I don’t think so. Do you know puppies shouldn’t be forced to run before their bones are fully developed?’ Then if she told me to mind my own business, I would say, ‘it is my business when I believe an animal is being harmed.’

    Would this make matters worse? It could. I may be yelled at or called a name. But I have no doubt the exchange would stay with her for days, if not forever, and make her think. I would bet money she would look into whether it is risky for bone development to force a puppy to jog. Doing what’s right doesn’t always feel good. It can be upsetting and unpleasant. But we do it in the hope of a greater good, in this case, the health of this puppy, will be protected. It’s when we don’t say anything that nothing gets better.

  22. So many wonderful answers! I am always confronted and speak out on the animals behalf.
    A neighbor would leave out their dogs (I just moved in) in freezing temperatures, single digits.I knocked on the door (after feeding them treats to help keep them warm) and said your dogs have a frozen water bowl, no safe warm place to enter and are shivering. Please take them in. He tells me they love being outside, but come in for the evening at 11:30/12:00 midnight. So, he continues to leave them outside-I continue to feed them. I come to find out he locks them in crates for the evening in the basement. I left him a note that was very nice. I am more then willing to help you in anyway you need. He ignored my note and my extended kindness! Next, I called animal control. They spoke to him, told him he at least needs to put a dog shelter out in the yard. The next morning, he bangs on my door and threatens me! He loves his dogs and they are well taken care of. Thanks to you my name is now associated with animal control. I was polite and truthful. I asked if he wanted to come in and discuss other solutions that would help his dog. He screamed…and don’t feed my dogs! My reply was simple. If you leave your dogs outside, they are shivering in single digits, hungry and wet, I will most certainly FEED YOUR DOGS! As it turns out, I baked healthful dog treats, leaving bags & assortments at his door. I eventually baked him good things too. He finally gave me his phone number to call him so he can bring the dogs in when necessary, told me the dogs love the treats and they appreciate my kindness. He was truly appreciative! It took awhile and tons of patience on my part (not to mention enormous stress and sleepless nights) but a bad situation ended well. So never give up!

  23. The unfortunate thing is that the law doesn’t protect animals beyond outright violence being perpetrated against them (and even then it’s sketchy).

    Besides my primary gig as Crystal the Pet Nanny, I used to also deliver Amazon packages as a side gig. I will never forget the day I delivered to a man who was clearly hostile when I rang his bell to let him know his package was at the door. There were several dogs barking inside the house and one – an Australian Shepherd, shot out the door and cowered behind me – obviously terrified of this man, who was glaring defiantly at me, just challenging me with his eyes to say something about his dog’s clear distress.

    He reached around me to scare the dog back into the house and continued glaring at me intensely. When I caught the dog’s eye, I swear to you he was PLEADING with me to help him.

    There was nothing I could do in the immediate moment though. And quite honestly, I was afraid of this man myself. I had to leave the poor dog behind and it BROKE me!

    I made a note of the address and immediately called our local county animal welfare office to find out what I could do to help the dog (and likely also the others who were inside the house). While they sympathized, they said there was nothing that could be done unless I actually witnessed an illegal act. I really wish I could have helped him.

    That dog’s eyes haunt me to this day. It’s heartbreaking.

    • Jeez, next time something like that happens just SAY you saw him kick the dog or whatever! It’s a dog’s life at stake. This is not the time to be 100% honest because you KNOW this man abuses his dogs.

  24. Such a difficult scenario. I went to the supermarket one day in April when the weather was abnormally hot. As I was leaving, a man with a pitbull mixed breed parked right next me. I watched in disbelief as he turned the car off and left his dog inside it with all the windows closed except for one that was open maybe an inch. No air conditioning, no water, and zero shade. I intended to wait five minutes for the owner to return but I probably didn’t make it even three. The dog looked very distraught and I couldn’t bear to watch his suffering. I went inside and found the owner…”Excuse me, I’m so sorry to bother you but your dog seems so hot and uncomfortable in your car and I’m just concerned for him.” My concern was not well received so I left and waited in my car until the owner returned. Fortunately, it wasn’t long after I spoke with him. I drove away cringing about the entire scenario. I don’t want to be “that” person but I’m always in awe at the lack of concern pet owners have for their animals and perhaps it’s best to start provoking some awareness.

  25. What to do when the person is your son? He lives in my guest house and his first 2 dogs were older and well behaved. Then he got a puppy, with no training. Expecting her to know how to come when called and walking off leash has been a problem. I cringe every time I hear him yell, but he won’t listen to me about the honey/vinegar thing.

  26. Unfortunately, no. Probably the best I can suggest is to stop and speak, to the person with the dog, in a friendly way.
    Accusations build resentment, I have is the past been chastised by strangers when they really did NOT understand the situation.
    I had a dog with anorexia, and was seeing the vet, yet strangers would accost me and accuse me of various misdemeanours,
    I also one bonked a dog on the head with a plastic bag containing uncrushed milk thistles, collected for the goose, the get her to come out of a neighbour’s from garden, And SHE then loudly
    accused my of beating my dog 🙁

  27. On a recent way-below-freezing winter day, with snow on the ground, I saw a guy jerking on his dog’s leash while walking him. The dog was showing obvious love and a desire to please his human despite the harsh treatment, so I pulled over and rolled down the window to talk to him. I first gave amazed praise at how much he loved his dog to be out in this weather. Then I said that I was once a leash jerker too until a kind stranger did what almost no one will do: she offered 5 friendly non-judgmental minutes of her time to show me a simple trick that would completely eliminate the need to jerk on the leash ever again. I apologized 2-3 times for sticking my nose into his business, but since the love between them was so obvious, I hoped he might want the information that did me so much good. I then quickly said a couple of things about how quickly praise & treats vs harshness can turn things around, and how glad I was to get rid of my frustrated anger since my dogs then became great little walkers. He was a little brusque and waved off the offer to get out of my car to help (thank goodness, man was it cold that day!). But he eased up with the harshness and as I drove away, I saw in my rear-view mirror that he was digging into his front jeans pocket – hopefully to get treats?

  28. I believe it is our duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves. If you sense that you also might be danger it is best to call the authorities (hopefully they will respond in a timely manner). If possible take video, as much applicable description, date(s) and time and dates.
    I am fortunate in that my brother is a veterinarian and he is in a position to intervene and is taken seriously when he contacts authorities and or approaches abusers. I also also use tell those who are putting there animals in danger that my brother is a vet when asked “what do you know”.
    Perhaps others can use similar information such as ” i will ask/tell my vet about this” it does not sound sound as threatening (maybe). But never put yourself in danger if you do most likely the animal will encounter more abuse. One more tip-If I see someone jogging with a dog on a hot day, especially short snouted dogs. I will offer their dog water and if i am permitted to do so explain to the person that they could kill their dog by running under hot conditions. Some people mean well but are just unaware of how best to care for animals.

  29. Most of these comments relate the confrontation they use with offenders. Sadly, they seem proud of this. They would never use it w/an animal, but expect it will work w/an agitated, likely wounded “animal”. There’s no mention of the calm we’re supposed to use when we’re dealing w/our, or other animals.
    It’s hardly surprising that there’s never a positive result.

  30. Was always told a puppy/dog doesn’t walk in front of you or behind you, they should walk beside you. If they walk in front of you it shows aggression, behind you, fearfulness/submissive but beside you confident and this is how I’ve always tried to train mine.

    • In my case, I actually prefer that my small pup to walk in front of me, it’s not aggression at all. I live in a urban area where her finding chicken wing and rib bones in the street or tossed on grassy spots is an almost daily occurrence (3 takeout places within 2 blocks). I want to be able to see her lunging for bones (or other spilled food, or dead rats/mice) to be able to stop her reaching them, or to immediately realize and get her to drop it (or trade).

      I also pick up in a poop bag any bones we spot — a public service to prevent the next dog from getting them. And to foil my pup, who remembers where she found a bone at the curb and tries to direct our walks back to it in following days.

    • That is not true. It is based on an outdated theory of “dominence” which has been since proven to be false. Just let the dog enjoy its short life, it has the emotionall intelligence of a three-year-old-child, let them just enjoy their walks and don’t be a control freak.

  31. Sorry but criminals always think they have the right to do what they’re doing or how they’re acting in their own mind.
    That said – nice but assertive statement bringing the issue at hand to light usually works.
    If not – and continued abuse…state Sheriff will be called – that usually sinks in that they’re in the wrong…
    Obviously if past that point, Highly Recommend calling Sheriff’s office – state you’re witnessing animal abuse, the facts and that you will file a complaint if needed – they will respond with animal control in tow.
    Every dispatcher & sheriff I’ve talked to in regards to these occurrences say they will respond – they despise those situations – defenseless animal(s)! Abused by ignorant humans.
    Especially if heat related!

  32. It breaks my heart and/or makes me angry when i see anything like this. I tend to act along the lines of Kathy Marion, above. 🙂 I won’t hesitate to call authorities. It’s the in-between situations that are the trickiest. I find it’s actually easier with children, for example, the mom abusing her kid shopping. I’ll go right over in her face and say “pls, let me help you, I know how hard it is, I remember”. 85% of the time it helps a lot. 15% of the time I get screamed at. That’s fine. It seems like most abusive dog owners are know-it-alls. It will haunt me for months. I saw a tiny Yorkie walking across a massive hot parking lot with young people. I talked to them nicely about it. They picked him up for maybe 2 min., then put him back down. That’s just one example, or course. So I go one of 2 ways. I have a fit on the spot, yell and threaten immediately. Or I try to use compassion, understanding, and reason. Wherever my guts leads me, I guess, and the distress level of the animal. And one more point, years ago, I left my dog in the car with the windows cracked, in the shade, on a cool day to run into the store. I had my stopwatch on my cell on for 3 minutes. When I came out, a woman was waiting at my car. She nicely told me I shouldn’t do that. I’m sure she had no idea how long I was gone, and I’m assuming would’ve called the cops if I was gone long. I thanked her, told her I was super careful and was timing it. I wasn’t insulted at all. Either was my dog.

  33. I try to find something I can agree on and use their perspective to guide.
    Ex: In a dog training class we were teaching dogs to focus on us. One of the class members stated it wasn’t working because her 12 week old was dominant and was staring her down and challenging her by barking and jumping. This would lead to her yelling and whipping him with the lead.
    Would I have read this situation the same way? No, probably not. But de-bunking the dominance theory wasn’t my goal. Improved communication between owner and puppy was.
    So instead of explaining why the puppy was likely not barking and jumping because he was dominant I said “okay, it sounds like this is becoming emotionally charged. Let’s take some of the pressure off the situation by asking for less duration and upping our reinforcement rate. Let’s also start tossing the treats a few feet away. That will help Fido decompress and will ease him into the behavior in a less confrontational manner. If we do that he’ll learn that this is a training session and not a battle.”
    In reality, Fido was just doing what puppies do in uncertainty. Being whipped with the leash was just escalating everyone’s behaviors. But instead of telling her “don’t ever do that again”, I offered her an alternative behavior. One she couldn’t do while whipping the dog.
    You eat a whale one bite at a time, and I think when we see a dog in distress we want to eat the whole whale.

  34. One thing that rarely helps in this situation and can actually make it worse for the dog is trying to shame the person. If I’m concerned about how someone is handling a dog I will try and distract them and engage them in a conversation. I usually try and start by saying what a cute/handsome dog and if they are having a particular problem I say I ‘ve had that problem as well with mine (even if I haven’t) and say I know that behaviour can be frustrating. If you use empathy you have a way into engaging in a meaningful conversation where they will be more likely open to listening to what you have to say next. Then I will explain what might help in the situation and point out how the dog may be feeling about it all. I always carry business cards of local do no harm behaviourist and trainers with me so I can pass them out. If I felt a dog was in immediate danger of being seriously harmed I’d take a much more direct approach. I think most people want to be good dog parents, but just lack the skills and knowledge.

  35. Generally I think people should mind their own business. Yes, if you actually witness abuse by all means intercede in any way that feels safe and appropriate. If you merely don’t like how someone is doing something and/or don’t have all the fact it may be best to keep your thoughts to yourself. I once had a dog at the very end of her life after a very difficult struggle with thyroid cancer. She was extremely skinny. A group of people saw her wandering around my yard and assumed I was trying to strarve her. They took it upon themselves to come onto my property and try to lure her to them so they could take her to the shelter. When I confronted them they lectured me on her poor condition. When I told them about her illness they accused me of cruelty for not having her euthanized sooner. I could have absolutely called the cops on these people for tresspassing and attempted theft. I didn’t because I thought their intentions were noble if misdirected. So yeah…butt out unless you know the situation and/or see actual abuse.