Animal Cruelty and abuse is a serious offense and one that Broward County Animal Care and Adoption takes very seriously.
Animal cruelty is against the law, per the Broward County Animal Care Ordinance, Sections 4-17 and 4-20. The Ordinance applies to all animals, not only dogs and cats. It defines cruelty to animals as:
"Any person who beats, cruelly ill-treats, torments, overloads, overworks or otherwise abuses an animal or intentionally causes such animal to be mutilated or inhumanely killed, or causes the same to be done, or otherwise treats an animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, shall be deemed to be in violation of this section."
Common Examples of Animal Cruelty
- Allowing an animal to become underweight and/or live in unsanitary conditions
- Allowing an animal’s medical conditions to go untreated
- Failure to provide an animal with adequate shelter and clean water, especially in rain or hot sun
- Neglecting to provide a long enough tether for an animal (if tied) or large enough crate (if caged)
- Leaving an animal in a car – even with the windows down - the result could be heat exhaustion or death
- Beating, mistreating, tormenting or abusing an animal
- Intentionally mutilating or inhumanely killing an animal
- Overloading or overworking an animal
- Exposing an animal to poison
- Dog fighting, training an animal to fight or maintaining a location where animals will fight
Forms of Animal Cruelty
Acts of violence, neglect, fighting and physical abuse are considered forms of animal cruelty. In general, animal abuse/cruelty includes five major categories:
Abandonment/Neglect — Dogs or cats that have been neglected often experience prolonged suffering and can die if left for days or weeks without clean, fresh food and water. This category includes sick or injured dogs and cats in need of obvious medical care.
Dogfighting — Organized dogfighting, whether it is part of a large formal operation or a neighborhood backyard “sparring match” is illegal. The use of “bait dogs” to train other dogs for fighting is illegal.
Malicious Poisoning — Placing poisoned food or water in order to harm a cat or dog.
Puppy/Kitten Mills — Observed as large-scale commercial dog or cat breeding operations. Unlike a reputable dog or cat breeder, puppy/kitten mills place profit over the well-being of the pet. The immediate goal is to produce as many puppies/kittens as possible for a profit, without regard to the pets' health or living conditions. Puppy/kitten mills focus on supplying the majority of pets sold to the public through pet shops.
Physical Abuse — Dogs or cats that are beaten, tormented, mutilated or otherwise purposely injured.
Signs of Animal Cruelty
- A dog or cat collar that has become so tight that it has caused a neck wound or has become embedded in the pet’s neck.
- Open wounds, signs of multiple healed wounds or an ongoing injury or illness that isn’t being treated.
- Untreated severe skin conditions that have caused loss of hair, scaly skin, bleeding, bumps or rashes.
- Extreme thinness or emaciation to the point of seeing protruding bones or sagging skin.
- Fur infested with fleas, ticks or other visible parasites.
- Failure to provide adequate grooming, to the point of causing extreme matting of fur, excessive overgrown nails and imbedded dirt.
- Weakness, limping or the inability to stand or walk normally. Signs of tremors or seizure activity that is not being medically treated.
- Heavy discharge from eyes or nose. Persistent coughing or wheezing that is not being medically treated.
- A person observed hitting, kicking or physically abusing a dog or cat.
- A dog or cat that has been tied up alone outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water or left with spoiled food or unsanitary drinking water.
- A dog or cat that is forced to remain outside in inclement weather (severe heat, rain, storm events) without access to adequate shelter or safe protection.
- A dog or cat that is forced to live in an area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could cause physical harm or injury.
- A dog or cat that is housed in a kennel or cage that is too small to allow the animal to stand up, turn around or otherwise make normal movements. Overcrowding of dogs or cats into one kennel, cage or penned up confinement that inhibits normal movement.
How You Can Help!!
Educate Others. Help educate others about the importance of providing basic needs for all dogs and cats:
- Love and care
- Proper shelter from the sun and rain, such as a sturdy dog house and cat dwelling; ideally, pets should be kept inside an air-conditioned home
- Food and water; all pets need clean, fresh water and food every day
- Sanitary, clean areas to live and play, both outside and inside the home
- An air-conditioned vehicle when going for a car ride
- Quality veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations and spaying/neutering
- A Broward County pet license and micro-chip for identification purposes
Set a good example for others. If you have pets they need more than just food, water, and adequate shelter. In addition to these basics, be sure to always show them the love and care they deserve. If you think your pet is sick, bring him to the veterinarian. Be responsible and have your animals spayed or neutered and make sure their vaccinations and County registration information is accurate and up to date.
How to Report Animal Cruelty
You can be the key to the prevention of animal abuse and cruelty against dogs and cats. If you witness abuse against a dog or cat in desperate need, DO NOT HESITATE; please pick up the phone and call for help!
Call the Broward County Animal Cruelty Hotline at 311.
If it is after 5 pm., weekends or holidays, call Animal Care at 954-359-1313, press Option 2 and leave a message.
PLEASE NOTE: Broward County Animal Care and Adoption can only respond to issues regarding dogs and cats. If you witness acts of cruelty against livestock, farm animals, or wildlife such as birds, ducks and raccoons, please call your local law enforcement agency.
Report Animal Cruelty to BSO Crime Stoppers. Reports of animal cruelty can be made anonymously by calling 954-493-8477 or
If you live in one of the following cities, report animal cruelty to that city’s Animal Control department for investigation:
- Coral Springs: 954-346-4422
- Hollywood: 954-921-3061
- Margate: 954-764-4357
- Pompano Beach: 954-786-4027
There is no leash law for cats in Broward County. However, there are options for solving a problem when a neighbor’s cat comes on your property and creates damage, urinates, etc.
Talk to your neighbor and explain the problem with the cat.
We can send an Animal Care Specialist to the pet owner’s house to check for current Rabies Registration tags and rabies vaccinations. Simply call Animal Care Dispatch at 954-359-1313, extension 9249. Provide the complete address of the cat owner and when he/she is home. The Specialist can either issue a citation or 30-day warning to the pet owner. The Specialist can also warn the pet owner the cat is causing a nuisance in the neighborhood and subject to possible trapping.
Animal Care Ordinance Chapter 4, Section 4-4 gives you the right to trap a cat that comes on your property. Options include:
- Trap the cat yourself. Companies offer traps for rent. Look in the Yellow Pages under Rental Service Stores and Yards. After you trap the cat, then call Broward County Animal Care for pick up. Animal Care will only pick up a cat that is contained in a box or trap.
- Hire a private trapper to trap and remove the cat. You can find one in the Yellow Pages, under Animal Removal Services.
At Large Dog
A dog running loose (at large) may be defecating in your yard, knocking over garbage cans, or threatening you and your pets. There is a leash law in Broward County that states all dogs must be on a leash when off their owner’s property.
Broward County residents (other than those who live in Coral Springs, Hollywood, Margate or Pompano Beach) can report nuisance dogs as follows.
Call Animal Care at 954-359-1313 , extension 9249 and provide us with the name and complete address of the dog owner and a time of day the owner is likely to be home. An Animal Care Specialist will be dispatched to the home, to inform the pet owner about the nuisance ordinance, and check for current rabies vaccination and Rabies Registration tag. The Animal Care Specialist can write a citation or 30-day warning for expired rabies vaccination and tags. However they are not able to issue a citation for a dog at large unless they see the violation, or unless you and a neighbor, not related to you, provide separate affidavits attesting to the violation.
If you don’t know for sure where the dog lives, provide the dispatcher with as much information about the dog and its owner as you know, including description of the dog, when the dog runs loose, who the owner might be, where the owner might live, and when the owner might be home. An Animal Care Specialist will visit the neighborhood at a time the dog usually is at large.
Ask the dispatcher for the Activity Number of the call. You can call back a few days later, and ask the dispatcher for a report on the results of the visit.
Noise ordinances for barking dogs are typically enforced by your city. If Cities are unable to abate the violation they may opt to enjoin the County’s services as there is also a County ordinance regarding Nuisance (Sec. 4-8). Broward County Animal Care responds to the unincorporated areas of Broward County. Please call your city’s Code Enforcement Department or Police Department for assistance.
Broward County’s ordinance on barking dogs is Section 4-8(c)1. Broward County Animal Care will begin an investigation only when they have received signed affidavits from two unrelated individuals who reside in different homes. You may obtain an affidavit by appearing before a notary and signing a sworn statement as to the violation. The affidavit should then be provided to the responding official.
To document the actions of an animal that bites your pet, call Broward County Animal Care at 954-359-1313 , extension 9297, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday; and 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Friday. Provide them with the name and complete address of the bite dog’s owner, and time of day that the owner is likely to be home.
An Animal Care Specialist will be dispatched to your home, and the dog biter’s home, to investigate the situation and, if warranted, issue a citation to the dog biter’s owner. The bite dog may be required to wear a muzzle depending on the findings of the investigation.
If the officer does issue a citation and the owner appeals the citation, you will be required to appear in court as a witness.
Animal Care does not handle nuisance wildlife situations.