Poisonings and shootings are the most common types of animal abuse we see in cases where a cat or dog was permitted to roam the neighborhood, either deliberately or by accident. All animal cruelty is tragic, but cases involving the shooting or poisoning of a companion animal are often even more tragic because in most situations, the act could have been prevented.

Individuals who allow their animal companions to go outside unsupervised are putting those animals in very real danger of being harmed by people who are irritated by animals' barking, defecating in yards, digging in flowerbeds, or bothering other animals. Those who are left alone in fenced-in yards or tethered at the end of chain are at the mercy of cruel neighbors or passersby who may maliciously harm them. It is imperative that pet owners supervise animals' time outdoors and ensure the safety of the animals they care for by taking them for walks on a leash, visiting parks, or playing in a safe, secure yardtogether.

The only way you can truly protect your pets against these kinds of tragedies is to keep them indoors. For a list of other ways to help protect your pets, click here.

If Your Pet Has Been Shot

Shooting and poisoning cases have the lowest rate of success in finding a suspect, partly because the animal harmed was almost invariably outside and unattended, so there is a much lower chance that someone witnessed the crime.

If your pet has been shot, take it in for medical treatment immediately. If the pet does not survive, be sure to ask the veterinarian to perform a necropsy.

The laws governing animal shooting vary widely from state to state and city to city.In many jurisdictions, it is not illegal to shoot an animal if it is on someone else's property - and if your pet was on their property, you may find yourself citedfor allowing a pet to roam free without a leash. If there are laws in place prohibiting a neighbor from shooting an animal even if it's on his property, pursue the case as vigorously as possible.

If your dog was menacing or threatening a human while it was shot, most localities will not press charges against the shooter. Determining whether or not the animal actually was attacking is most often accomplished by a vet's examination if there are no impartial witnesses. By studying the location and angle of the wounds, it is sometimes possible to determine whether or not the animal was charging forward, or was walking away from the shooter.

You can find out the local laws regarding whether or not it is illegal for someone to shoot an animal on their property by contacting your local department of animal control.

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