By JeanneBennett

Spirit staff Pet Advocate


Police were called to the 2800 block of West Sixth St. in Chester on Saturday night where they discovered the charred bodies of two dogs inside a tote bag. Local news reports indicated the pair had been tied up and set on fire behind a garage. Officials believe they may have been dead before they were placed inside the bag and set on fire. A necropsy is planned to determine the exact cause of death and a cash reward was offered for information leading to arrest and prosecution.

As horrific as this crime sounds, according to the SPCA, there are many more crimes that are just as horrific that occur every day, many of which are never reported. In fact, most cases of animal abuse are never reported and go unpunished.

Unlike violent crimes against people, information on reported cases of animal abuse, until recently, have not been compiled by state and federal agencies, making it difficult to calculate the prevalence or trends in these crimes.

These crimes occur everywhere. They are not confined to certain geographic areas and transcend all social and economic boundaries, and media reports suggest that animal abuse is common in both rural and urban areas.

The average number of animal abuse/cruelty cases reported in the media for 2015, according to, was 1,920.  Of that number, 60 percent involved dogs, 18 percent involved cats, 22 percent involved other animals and 26 percent involved pit bulls specifically.

While the most common type of animal abuse, 48 percent reported, involved neglect and hoarding which is bad enough, but the rest is worst: 11 percent involving shooting; eight percent, beating; nine percent, fighting; five percent, stabbing/mutilation/torture; three percent, choking/strangulation/suffocation; 10 percent, poisoning; two percent, burning; and two percent other.

We expect these cases to happen far away from where we live; that animal abuse, like we see in news reports, only happens in places where crime is a way of life. Not so. According to the website,, pet theft is a huge problem in the United States. Believe it or not, there are up to two million dogs stolen each year and sold to research facilities, dog fighting facilities (either as fighters or as bait), puppy mills, pet stores and pet food manufacturers.

Of this two million, it’s safe to assume that many were pets who disappeared from their yards and were never seen again. Dogs stolen right from their yards, taken from loving homes, because someone thought they could make a quick buck. Bottom line is no matter where you live, you have to be careful and vigilant.

Here are some tips from that will help keep your pet safe.

  • Keep your pet indoors, especially when you are not at home.
  • Do not let your pet, even your cat, roam freely, unsupervised in your neighborhood.
  • Keep your dog on a leash when you go for a walk.
  • Properly identify your cats and dogs. Keep a collar and up-to-date ID tag and license on the collar, so he can quickly be reunited with you if he is lost. Give your pet additional security with a microchip.
  • Spay or neuter your animal. This will lower his desire to roam and medical laboratories often will not accept animals who have been altered. PAWS offers low-cost spay/neuter surgeries for qualified low-income individuals. We also maintain a list of other low-cost spay/neuter clinics in the Puget Sound.
  • Do not use “free to good home ads” when looking for a new home for your pet. Do not place your pet in a new home without checking the new guardian’s references, visiting the premises, or having the new guardians sign a pet adoption contract. (See more information on finding a new home for your pet at
  • Never give animals away for free. Even if you charge a minimal adoption fee of $25, you’ll be more likely to deter those who are trying to scam you or harm the animal.
  • When returning a stray animal to his rightful guardian, request proof of ownership, including photos of the animal, vet records, and/or licensing papers.
  • Be aware of strangers in the neighborhood, and keep a close eye on what is happening in your community. If you suspect an animal scam is taking place, inform your neighbors immediately. Report anything suspicious to the police.

Acts of cruelty against animals are now counted alongside felony crimes like arson, burglary, assault, and homicide in the FBI’s expansive criminal database.

On January 1, 2016,  the Bureau’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) began collecting detailed data from participating law enforcement agencies on acts of animal cruelty, including gross neglect, torture, organized abuse, and sexual abuse.

Before this year, crimes that involved animals were lumped into an “All Other Offenses” category in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s annual Crime in the United States report, a survey of crime data provided by about 18,000 city, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies.

If it seems suspicious report it. Better safe than sorry. Don’t be the person that, after a crime is committed, wishes they had done more.


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