Animal Welfare & Cruelty


All reports of cruelty and neglect will be investigated immediately. An animal control officer will survey the area and condition of the animal and all attempts to contact the owner will be exhausted. If contact cannot be made with the owner any immediate care needed will administered. The Animal Control Superintendent will make the ultimate decision to file through the court system. Animal cruelty can be charged if necessary. All questions of abandonment will be investigated and handled with every power available to the division.

Animal Services has trained State Certified Cruelty investigators. We take animal cruelty very seriously in our community and will hold all responsible parties accountable when evidence can prove cruelty has taken place. Animal Services is the primary contact for the community when an animal is being cruelly treated; we conduct a thorough investigation into the accusation by collecting evidence and statements. We then partner with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Abilene Police Department when a case is ready to move forward to the District Attorney for prosecution. All three entities are critical in completing and investigation as is the complaining party fully cooperating so justice can be fought for the animal that has no voice.

Levels of Cruelty

There two basic levels of cruelty - acute and passive cruelty.

Acute Cruelty

Acute cruelty is the active beating, torture, mutilation, and disfigurement/emaciation of an animal. This is an emergency situation for the animal and must be reported immediately. There are different requirements that must be met for livestock and non-livestock under the penal code for this to be a criminal offense.

Passive Cruelty

Passive cruelty is the lack of nutrition, water, shelter, and medical treatment of an animal. These case take longer to prove and more information from the witnesses to show a pattern of neglect. These types of case need to be reported as soon as possible to potentially correct the problem with education, a citation, or ultimately with criminal prosecution.

Identifying Animal Cruelty

Physical Signs

  • Collar so tight that it has caused a neck wound or has become embedded in the pet’s neck
  • Extreme thinness or emaciation - banes may be visible
  • Fur invested with fleas, ticks, or other parasites
  • Open wounds or an ongoing injury or illness that isn’t being treated
  • An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal
  • Signs of inadequate grooming, such as extreme matting of fur, overgrown nails and dirty coat
  • Untreated skin conditions that have caused loss of hair, scaly skin, bumps or rashes
  • Weakness, limping or the inability to stand or walk normally

Environmental Signs

  • Animals are housed in kennels or cages (very often crowded in with other animals) that are too small to allow them to stand, turn around and make normal movements, possibly with too many other animals
  • Pets are kept in an area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could harm them
  • Pets are kept outside in inclement weather without access to adequate shelter
  • Pets are tied up outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water, or with food or water that is unsanitary

When Welfare Checks Are Made

Animal Services will conduct welfare of animal check on the following:

  • Animal locked in a car when outside temperature is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the windows are rolled, engine of vehicle is off - Witness needs to give type of vehicle and license plate info as well as the row in which the vehicle is parked
  • Animals tangled in a tether or caught in fence
  • Animals that were observed dumped on the side of the road (Witness need to give type of vehicle and license plate info)
  • No food/water
  • No shelter
  • Suspected abandoned animals; ideally be called in by a landlord or family members of the previous tenants.
  • We need your help with these cases; without your willingness to write a statement of what you saw and who you saw do it, Animal Services may be unable to prevent this from happening to another animal.