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Student Action: Combat Cruelty

Help stop animal abuse and neglect

dog pit bull in junkyard


Whether pets, farm animals, or wildlife, victims of animal cruelty suffer terribly. People who abuse animals are more likely to commit violent crimes against other people. It's crucial that these incidents are reported to the right authorities.

Spread the word in your community about what people can do about animal cruelty and the need for better anti-cruelty laws. Follow these steps:

1. Know your stuff. Cruelty to animals is illegal in all 50 states, but definitions and punishments vary widely. Although all states have some sort of protection for pets like dogs and cats, the laws often have less serious punishments (or none at all) for crimes against non-pets, like farm animals, lab animals, and wildlife. In some states, the maximum sentence for someone convicted of animal cruelty is only six months—even for deliberate, malicious acts of abuse.

Use the links below to find out how your state rates on its animal cruelty law. Are animal cruelty, dogfighting, and cockfighting classified as misdemeanors or felonies? Are any animals specifically included or excluded? What are the maximum punishments for cruelty? Is counseling required or recommended for offenders? Does the law place any restrictions on future animal ownership? 

Once you've learned about your state's laws, get to know the steps for reporting animal cruelty.

2. Complete one of these project options:

Write On

If your state's cruelty law ranks low, write to your state's elected officials.

Be a Mentor

Teach younger students about animal cruelty and what they can do about it.

Hold a Fundraiser

Raise money to help spread the word about dogfighting and what people can do about it. Check out our fundraising page for ideas, and contact us about where to send the money you raise.

Party for Animals

Hold an event at school to educate your friends and classmates about animal cruelty. Promote it to the whole student body. Show a video and hand out information. Invite a speaker, such as a psychologist, an animal cruelty officer, or other law enforcement personnel. Teach others how to recognize the signs of animal abuse using tips from the Be a Mentor activity

Consider showing a video like Life on the Chain, Death in the Ring (7:49 minutes; warning: contains graphic footage) during your event.

Poster Child

Spread the word about our $5,000 reward for those giving information leading to the arrest and conviction of a dogfighter by ordering a free reward action pack. You'll get posters, postcards, brochures, and stickers about the reward. Put them up around your neighborhood and help stop dogfighting.

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