The sad facts of animal cruelty and what's being done to stop it

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Chances are you've seen more than one story about animal cruelty - animals forced to live in unsafe conditions or even completely abandoned by their owners.

Each reported case is a heartbreaking discovery, but animal advocates say that sad reality is just a small glimpse of the animal cruelty happening across the country each day. Most animal cruelty cases don't get reported at all, according to The Humane Society of the United States.

What's known about the cases that *are* reported?

According to the HSUS, animal cruelty and neglect is committed by people of all social and economic statuses and appears to be common in both urban and rural areas.

Animals can be unintentional victims through other behavior such as hoarding, the HSUS says. Often times the perpetrators of those cases are in need of social or mental help, according to the Humane Society.

Intentional cruelty towards animals is another story, according to the HSUS; people who intentionally abuse animals are also likely to abuse other people. According to HSUS, in one survey 71 percent of domestic violence victims said their abuser had also targeted pets.

What's being done about it?

All fifty states have adopted animal cruelty laws with felony provisions since 2014. 46 of those 50 states, including New York, allow for a felony charge on the first offense. A majority of anti-cruelty laws are limited to cases that involved aggravated cruelty, torture or cruelty to a companion animal, according to the HSUS.

In addition, the FBI added to cruelty to animals as a category in its Uniform Crime Report starting in 2016. However, only a third of communities across the country are currently participating in the system.

Earlier this year, Onondaga County officials announced their intention to create an animal abuser registry for the county by this summer. Such a registry is a rarity in New York, where less than 12 counties currently keep track of animal abusers, but advocates of the registry say it would help to keep animals out of the hands of people who have already abused animals.

And, of course, here in Central New York there are the CNY SPCA's Animal Cruelty Investigators who enforce cruelty laws. If you see animal abuse, you can report it to them by following the instructions here.

Tune in to NBC3 at 11pm Wednesday to see Victoria Carmen's report "SPCA Ride Along", which follows a day in the life of our local animal cruelty investigators.

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