How to Recognize Cruelty
Animal cruelty occurs when someone intentionally injures or harms an animal or when a person willfully deprives an animal of food, water or necessary medical care. Here are some signs that may indicate abuse or neglect:
- Wounds on the animal or patches of missing hair
- An extremely thin, starving animal
- An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal
- Not providing adequate food and/or regular access to water
- Regularly keeping a dog chained or tethered for hours, or confined without room to exercise
- Animals who have been hit by cars—or are showing any of the signs listed here—and have not been taken to a veterinarian
- Animals who are kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions
- Animals who cower in fear or act aggressively when approached by their owners
- Tick or flea infestations
To report animal neglect or abuse, call Animal Care and Control at (415) 554-9400. All reports are confidential.
Gather the following information before submitting a report of animal cruelty:
- A concise, written, factual statement of what you observed—giving dates and approximate times whenever possible—to provide to law enforcement.
- Photographs of the location, the animals in question and the surrounding area. However, please do not put yourself in danger! Do not enter another person’s property without permission, and exercise great caution around unfamiliar animals who may be frightened or in pain.
- If you can, provide law enforcement with the names and contact information of other people who have first-hand information about the abusive situation.
If you see a loose animal, a vicious animal, or an injured domestic or wild animal on the side of the road, please call the San Francisco Animal Care and Control’s Emergency Dispatch number at (415) 554-9400 between 6:00 am and 1:00 am. If the situation is urgent and occurs outside of these hours, call 911.
Animal cruelty does not include barking dogs, disruptive cats or loose animals. If you have a problem with a loud animal call your local police agency at (415) 553-0123.
If a dog has bitten you, seek medical attention. To report the bite to San Francisco Animal Care & Control, click here (PDF) to submit an online report form.
Vicious and Dangerous Dog Unit – SF Police Department
The Vicious and Dangerous Dog Unit (VDDU) investigates incidents involving dogs that exhibit menacing and/or aggressive behavior. The VDDU encourages the public to immediately notify police whenever a dog bites, attempts to bite, lunges or chases a person or any domestic animal so that the police may secure the scene, render aid and document the incident in a Vicious and Dangerous Dog Complaint Form (different than the Animal Bite Report). The police report will be forwarded to the VDDU who will then evaluate each incident to determine the best means to ensure public safety.