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wildpotato's avatar

Is this dog's situation an SPCA issue or a health department issue?

Asked by wildpotato (14911points) September 5th, 2010

And which organization (in New Jersey) has more resources to help me help him?

Here’s the story: My apartment’s bathroom looks out on a small concrete run that belongs to my neighbors. They keep their dog in there 24/7, give him no walks, and rarely clean his run. Here’s some pictures. He barks semi-constantly out of boredom. Poor sweet guy – whenever I stick my head out the window to talk to him he acts all desperate for attention. Why would anyone get a dog just to stick it in a tiny concrete prison and ignore it?!! To torture their neighbors with the smell of dog shit, the constant barking, and constant feelings of pity for the poor animal?

I’ve tried to talk to these people – I would love to take him for walks when I take my own dog out. But they won’t come to the door to talk, or even acknowledge through the intercom that they are the people in the building who own the dog (I know they are because I’ve seen them through the first-floor windows and because the other residents of the building have confirmed this for me).

I’ve been hesitant to call the SPCA because I’m afraid they would probably take him away, and I think that he’d be euthanized (this area has an extremely high euth rate). He’s pretty old. I’d adopt him or foster him myself, but I have little enough cash for my own pets’ vet bills and I couldn’t in good conscience take on another dog at the moment. Am I wrong – would they be more likely to warn the people and educate them?

Or would calling the health department be more effective? These are truly unsanitary conditions for the dog, and I figure that even if they don’t care about the dog’s way of life they ought to care about mine because I’m human, and I get a dog-shit smell wafting into my yard and my bathroom all summer long. Would they just have to call the SPCA anyway?

My priority is helping the dog – I know I can buy a sonar gadget that’ll stop him from barking, and I can keep my bathroom window closed and just deal with it in the backyard.

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11 Answers

Trillian's avatar

Wow. Are they actually violating any laws or regulations? It’s a shame, but a lot of the time animal control can’t do anything because no laws are technically being broken. I hope you can find a good resoluton for this animal.

muppetish's avatar

You can check your state’s animal cruelty laws on the ASPCA’s website. I wish I knew the answer to your original question – the photos of the dog’s living conditions breaks my heart.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

Well if you care enough about this dog there is one solution i can think of. When the owners are gone you could kidnap the dog and drop it of at a no kill shelter. You might get in a little trouble but hey for the sake of the dog It’s worth it.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Unfortunately, @daytonamisticrip: that would open the OP up to criminal charges, and if s/he is unable to adopt the dog because of finances, then s/he would certainly not have the funds to defend against those charges.
@wildpotato : Is there sympathetic press in your area? With the help of the SPCA or other animal rights groups, if you make this public the owners might be compelled to give up the dog. Often, publicity of this nature brings out the best in the community and the dog might find a good home.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’d slip a note under their door stating your first name, what apt. you’re in and that you’ve seen their little sweetie from your window and wonder if they’d allow you to walk him when you take out your own. Say you’ve come to the door before but don’t want to alarm them or catch them when busy. Leave your celly number if you’re comfortable.

YARNLADY's avatar

Call the animal control and ask them if there is a way to have the dog removed, and taken to a rescue only – no kill shelter.

15acrabm's avatar

That is sick. That poor dog. I agree with the no kill shelter.

Andreas's avatar

@wildpotato All animal lovers are upset by stories like these, and certainly the SPCA and Health Dept responsibilities overlap. Some people just shouldn’t have pets of any kind. Most of us here, I’ll bet, have known similar cases ourselves, and it’s never easy to deal with. Just keep trying to reach them as has been suggested.

All the best.

Pandora's avatar

Wow, poor baby. Is there a neigborhood association? I think the note idea is good.
I would just give them my apartment number and let them know they can knock on my door.
Do you know anyone who may actually know them? If you do, then ask them to intervene.

tigress3681's avatar

Maybe you could even research some rescue organizations in your area.

wildpotato's avatar

Thanks, guys. I ended up hemming and hawing about this for a long time because I really wanted to talk to the owner before I called. I talked to her this morning, which went as badly as could be expected. So I spoke with the NJSPCA, and it seems that not ever taking your dog on walks and cleaning up their waste very rarely do not count as cruelty. At lease they’ll come out and talk to her, but it probably won’t do anything to change her behavior…

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