Supporting Insanity – When to Make the Call

This post is part of a series wherein struggling pet owners submit pleas for help to the expertise of blogland. Everyone’s experiences are unique. If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. What you think common sense may be revolutionary for someone else. You never know what may resonate. My hope is that together we can help good pet people feel a little less alone.

This is a very different type of question from the others in the past. The reader doesn’t have a concern for her own pets, rather one belonging to someone she doesn’t know.  It has brought up multitude of other questions in my mind on a topic I haven’t explored in any depth. I am curious to read your take on the situation.

The email reads:

Hi, I hope you have some advice. I don’t know the right thing to do here and hoped others could help? I’ve never complained about anything before and don’t want to look like I am being all judgmental when it could be nothing. But I worry about this poor dog and if things really are bad I think something should be done to help. I would feel awful if I could have done something and didn’t.

Every day I pass a dog on the main road on my way to work. I work night shifts a lot so the dog is out there in the evening when I go and is there at four am when I come home. He is be tied up on a rope and he is always laying on the front step. He was there all last winter and summer and will probably be there this winter as well. I can’t really tell but there doesn’t even seem to be a dog house for him or any dishes for water.

Before I sent this email I walked by the house to get a closer look. The dog was outside in the afternoon and it was raining. When I made eye contact with him he tried to stand and I noticed he had trouble getting up. He barked at me once and took a couple steps and it looked like he was limping.

I don’t know what to do and I feel so bad! Do you think I should call police? Do you think they can do anything? It seems like cruelty to me to have a dog tied up without anything in the cold. I don’t know the people who own him and I don’t feel comfortable approaching them. Maybe everything is fine and the dog is okay but I can’t stop worrying. I cried all the way to work because he looked so sad. What if he is really hurt and I didn’t do anything? Is there anything I can do? Should I just mind my own business? I don’t know about reporting it because what if the owner gets mad and hurts the dog more or has the dog put down? What is the right thing to do?

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions for her? Have you ever witnessed something you considered reporting to authorities?

If you have a question you would like answered, fill out the contact form and I will post it up as soon as I can. All submissions will remain anonymous.

14 thoughts on “Supporting Insanity – When to Make the Call

  1. Personally, I’d call the police (not via 911) or my local humane agency (if they have an investigation unit). It sounds like this poor pup is not being given the care that is REQUIRED (shelter/water/vet care) by most jurisdictions when left outside.

    Worst case scenario is that the police/humane agent go to the house and find a dog house with straw and bowl of water out of your sight range and discover the limp is because he’s old. Best case scenario they discover he ISN’T being taken care of and they educate the family about it or the family may sign him over so he can find a better home.


  2. That is a really tough one. I would probably call.

    If you know what type of dog it is, you can contact that breed rescue in the area, many times the rescue can talk a person into surrendering the dog.

    It happened with a chocolate lab in my area, the guy was going to put the dog in the paper, my friend at the lab rescue called him and convinced him to surrender the dog to the rescue. He is currently living the life of Riley on ten acres in Massachusetts. 🙂

    At the very least, the rescue might be able to help with getting proper shelter or medical care.

    Of course, there are always devious ways too…:-)


  3. I too would definitely call the local Animal Control and let them know. Tena is correct – most jurisdictions require that animals that are left outside need to have shelter, food and water. I know it might be worrisome that the dog would be put down – but isn’t that kinder than being kept outside like that year after year, season after season? Something needs to be done to help that poor dog, even if it is done anonymously – at least it is being done. And calling rescues is also a good idea as they may know something that can be done to help out immediately instead of waiting for the city’s animal control to take action.


  4. I’d definitely make a call. thepeople might just need a little help to do what’s right by the dog, or if they are neglecting it maybe they’d allow it to be rehomed.


  5. I understand where the people who made the other comments come from. Believe that I to care about dogs, and if ever I KNEW mistreatment/abuse was occurring I would make sure it stopped.

    My question is what else have you done to find out more about this dog? You mention you walk by at approximately the same time and see the same thing, have you tried going by at other times of the day? Perhaps that dog owner has a similar schedule to yourself and the dog happens to be out only at the times you have walked by. You also mention that you see no dog supplies outside (water/shelter), which leads me to believe that the dog MUST spend some time inside, else it would have starved long ago.

    Secondly, being associated with my local animal shelter in cruelty investigation you have to be sure something is going on before someone like myself would ever investigate. This is not out of malice, but sheer volume. We are a funded solely on donations, and as such we do not have the resources to investigate every case. This is especially true with such limited information to go on, we rely upon the people who contact us to do much of our “leg work” for us, or we would have no time for any other work.


  6. I agree with Devil’s Advocate – try going by on other days or talking to others who may know the area. Is there a fence? It could be this is the owners solution for potty breaks.



  7. Howdy, I would call the RSPCA and let them check it out. You would remain anonymous so there is no concern for yourself. You aren’t saying there is mistreatment just that you are concerned for the dog’s welfare. Let the experts go and see what is happening and they will take it from there. It’s is good you have noticed. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)


  8. It sounds like you are inclined to making a call and I hesitate to urge you to ignore your intuition.

    I’ll add one other consideration. If the dog is doing poorly, his person might be too. I work for a nonprofit that does small repairs for elderly homeowners. Our staff have found that dogs doing poorly are often in households where the person is struggling. Your call to help the dog might possibly be helpful to his person too.


  9. Yes, definitely call the police or animal control. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the owners, there is certainly someone else who can and should do it. Even if it’s nothing, it’s worth looking into.


  10. I’d go by at a different time of day a few times, and if it seems like the dog is always out without shelter and/or food and water, than I’d call your local humane agency. It’s possible that that’s just the regular times they have the dog outside for bathroom breaks and he’s old or has an injury that’s being treated. If not, then hopefully the investigation will either cause the family to take better care of him or get him removed. It’s also possible that they’ll point out some resources the family can apply for to get help if they are struggling.


  11. Any updates? I agree that more observations are in order. Have you ever seen anyone out with the dog during your time by the house? Is there a fenced in area at all, a dog door? Unfortunately, I can’t suggest much more than making the phone call, but I have dealt with similar issues and I understand how difficult it can be. Please keep us updated.


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