Waukesha County

Animal Cruelty

What you should do if you suspect a case of Animal Cruelty or Neglect?

Animal cruelty encompasses a range of behaviors harmful to animals, from neglect to malicious killing. Most cruelty investigated by Humane Officers is unintentional neglect that can be resolved through education. Intentional cruelty, or abuse, is knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter, or veterinary care or maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating, or killing an animal.

Animal "hoarding" happens when someone has collected so many animals that they are unable to provide proper care for them.

STEP 1. Evaluate the Situation
Many people have different standards of care for their pets. While someone may not love and care for their pet as you do, it may not be an abuse situation.

Animal Neglect
Wisconsin law states that animals must have food, water, veterinary care and adequate shelter provided to them. Failure to provide a sufficient amount of food and water on a daily basis is considered neglect. Appropriate veterinary care means medical issues are addressed. Shelter must be suitable in size, and protect from inclement weather.

Animal Abuse
Wisconsin law 951.02 Mistreating animals. No person may treat any animal, whether belonging to the person or another, in a cruel manner.

“Cruel” is defined as unnecessary and excessive pain or suffering, or unjustifiable injury or death.

If you are unsure if a situation is abuse or neglect, it is always best to report it to authorities.

STEP 2. Report It
If you witness either animal neglect or abuse, you should immediately report it to your local law enforcement agency or County Humane Officer. If you are worried about retaliation against you, tell the Officer that you wish to remain anonymous. However, in some situations, remaining anonymous can make it more difficult to prosecute the case.
Include details to help the investigation. The specific address and description of the animal; license plates, address and description of the home and suspected person; and nature of abuse or neglect.

Report Details: Report as much information as you can!

1. Owners address – with directions to the home.
2. Name of owner – if known.
3. Description of animal(s) – breed, color, age, size, and any other information that will help to identify the animal.
4. Number of animals – not only those that suffer from neglect or cruelty, but include all that live in the household.
5. What type of cruelty/neglect was observed – no food, water, or shelter; or was there some incident or sign of injury witnessed?
6. Indicate if it is an emergency.
7. Please be sure to leave your name and phone number in case we need to call to ask for further information.
8. A Humane Officer will investigate your report. If it is a true emergency, call 911. For less serious, ongoing situations, contact a County Humane Officer at (262)-896-8330.

What will happen to your report?

An officer will visit the location and determine the action needed to alleviate the animal’s suffering.

Animals in danger are immediately rescued or removed. If the pet is seriously unhealthy or obviously abused, the Humane Officer can remove the animal to protective care while the investigation continues. You can help by alerting authorities if the owner gets another pet. If charges are brought against the owner, you can testify or sign a complaint, since neglect is difficult to prove. In the case of violent abuse, witnesses are important since the Officer did not see the violation occur. Your testimony could make the difference for the animal.

In most cases of neglect, owners are given recommendations for care and given a reasonable time limit to comply. Failure to comply results in tickets and fines. Continued failure to comply may result in removal of the animal.

In cases of outright abuse, the perpetrator will be charged if enough evidence can be gathered. In these situations, witnesses and testimony are extremely important in the prosecution of any charges. But, the most important thing is documentation. Even without bringing charges, a visit from the Humane Officer can help stop the abuse.

Waukesha County Environmental Health
515 W. Moreland Blvd • AC 260
Waukesha WI 53188 (directions)

Hours Monday - Friday • 8 am - 4:30 pm (closed holidays)

Contact us
 | Phone 262-896-8300 | Fax 262-896-8298
Visit us in person in room AC 260