This is a quiet time of year for us at the SPCA as far as animal intakes are concerned. (Our cruelty investigations never slow down.)
For the most part, animals are content to stay snug and warm at home so we don't have as large a stray population as we do in the summer time. Plus, cats are not having kittens so that helps keeps the population down.
Now back to investigations. There is a man who calls us constantly about his neighbor. They leave the dog out in all kinds of weather. Plus, when she had puppies, the puppies were out in the weather as well.
So our investigator drives by and does not see any animals outside. Who do you believe? The person who complains or the dog owner?
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. So the man who complains about the dog being out brings in pictures of the dog and her 5 month old pup outside in the snow. He calls the police and the police remove the dogs and bring them to the SPCA. The dog owner says that he was only gone 1 hour to get dinner.
Now if we took this to a judge for cruelty and neglect, the judge would ask for proof that the dogs were out for long periods of time. Despite the fact that the neighbor has pictures, the dog owner will testify that the dogs were not out that long. The pictures do not show how long the dogs were out so how do we prove that? We do not have the manpower to sit outside the house and keep a log of how long the dogs were outside. I tried to explain this to the complainant and in response I was told that the SPCA doesn't do anything! Ouch.
So despite the fact that we have peace and calm related to the influx of animals, we will always have conflict about cruelty investigations. There are laws to protect animals but if we want to prosecute, we need to prove that animal cruelty was committed. And sometimes, even when we prove it, AND the defendant is found guilty; the judge can still give the animal back. (See post Animals have no rights in Williamsport)