All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Animal Abuse in Neighborhood - What to Do

 Dear Marie,
I was made aware of a situation involving a family on our own block and I am not sure who to contact. A neighbor came to me in tears Monday and told me how a small dog was thrown into her yard to die after it was beaten by a woman with a baseball bat. After taking it to a vet, they were told the dog’s back and hind legs were broken in the attack and there were no guarantees a $3,000 surgical procedure would be successful. The animal was euthanized.

Members of the same family, including young children, have been seen stomping newborn and weeks old kittens to death and the tiny bodies are tossed in this other woman’s yard. They also place cats into a plastic playhouse and seal it up in the hot sun until the animals die from the heat. Some of my kitties have come up missing as well as my next-door neighbor’s new puppy. I pray they have not met the same fate! Is this a police or animal control issue? The whole thing makes me sick and it turns out it has been going on for at least three months.

Dear Amy,
You are telling me about a very serious and criminal problem that needs to be addressed by both law enforcement and child services. There are several things you need to do immediately.

First, talk with your neighbor who lives next door to this house-of-horrors and let her know that you will accompany her to the police to report this matter. She may feel hesitant and possibly even afraid to say anything about her neighbors for fear of retaliation, and who can blame her? Your support will help tremendously in this area. Because she is a possible witness, she is instrumental in helping the police create a solid case.

Once your neighbor and you contact the local police department and report the suspected animal abuse and possible child abuse, (and exposing children to this kind of behavior, combined with allowing them to commit the same behavior IS child abuse), state you case factually, calmly and without adding personal opinion regarding what you think of this family.

Remember, children who grow up in an atmosphere such as the one you describe, tend to become abusers - or worse – themselves. So please do not hesitate to get this information to the proper authorities. The children need as much help as the animals.

Unfortunately, most police departments will probably refer you to animal control. If you live in an area where animal control officers are not part of the police department, they cannot enforce state humane laws. They can only take action on county and local ordinances. So, if you live in a city that contracts with Orange County, for example, you must get your police department involved. This may require that you insist on speaking with a Watch Commander who understands these fine details.

If you continue to get brushed off, go ahead and contact animal control as well as child services and explain everything you are aware of. They can begin an investigation at that point. If you are certain that an action will not be taken, write a letter to your mayor and city council and let them know that your police department would not respond to the alleged criminal activity. City Hall will assist you and your neighbor in obtaining the
police help that you need.

Do not attempt to approach the family that is abusing these animals. They are very clearly unbalanced and you may be putting yourself in harm’s way. Keep all of your cats indoors and let other pet owners in the neighborhood know that they should do the same.

In the meantime, please document any further abuse. Take photographs as necessary. If any other animals are found beaten or abused, immediately contact the police and animal control. And if there are any signs of the children being exposed to this type of violence again, re-contact child services.

Hopefully, with your involvement, this situation will be resolved.

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