What steps should be taken when children or adolescents abuse animals?

Learn more about the specific situation.

  • What were the details of what they did to the animal?

  • Is it the first time or has it happened before? How often?

  • What was the child or youth’s emotional response to the situation? Sad? Remorseful? Excited? Guilty? Other?

  • Were they alone or with others? Were they a leader or follower? What role did peer pressure play?

  • Did they know it was wrong?

Educate children and youth about humane and proper care of animals.

  • Teach children how to be safe around animals.

  • Help children to learn about animal behaviors and body language.

Ask for help if you are unsure.

  • “When in doubt, check it out!”

  • If you are not sure, find an expert to help determine if the child or youth’s behaviors are normal and manageable.

  • Report the incident(s) so a trained investigator can help determine the extent of the maltreatment.

Don’t minimize serious behaviors.