Cruelty Reporting

IMPORTANT: If an animal is in immediate danger please contact the local law enforcement agency, the Vermont State Police barracks that covers the town where the animal is located, or the Vermont State Police at (802) 229-9191. We will work with the law enforcement agency to provide support and care for the animals if requested.

As a small non-profit organization, it is not within North Country Animal League’s jurisdiction to investigate cruelty or neglect complaints – NCAL does not have the authority to write tickets or enforce laws.

If you witness animal cruelty or neglect, or believe a situation involving an animal is in violation of the law, please file your complaint with the Animal Control Officer (ACO) or the law enforcement agency that serves the town where the animal is located.  To find out who the ACO is or which law enforcement agency (usually this will be a municipal police department or the VT State Police) should be contacted, call the Town Clerk of the town where the animal is residing. Please visit your town’s website to get the contact information of the Town Clerk.

After calling the appropriate channels, please consider calling NCAL at (802) 888-5065 ext. 101 or so that we may follow up, if needed.


Animal cruelty encompasses a range of behaviors from neglect to malicious harm. Most cases of cruelty are unintentional neglect that can be resolved through educating owners and providing resources.

Intentional cruelty or abuse is knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter, socialization, or veterinary care; or maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating, or killing an animal.

The state of Vermont has specific definitions of animal cruelty, as well as a process for reporting incidents.

As is often the case with laws, what we would like to see is often not required by law. It is legal in Vermont to leave an animal outside on a chain, day or night. The statutes dictate access to shelter, food, water and exercise as well as length of the chain, but not that the animal come in for the evening, even on cold Vermont nights.

  • Educate yourself about Vermont’s animal cruelty laws at the VT statutes website.
  • Report any suspected case of animal cruelty or neglect to the appropriate agency.  Do your research first – an ACO cannot investigate if they don’t have an accurate address.
  • Be active at the town level. Real cruelty or neglect is a crime and, as such, needs to be investigated by law enforcement or an Animal Control Officer. Find out if your town has the means to investigate reports of cruelty and neglect and to enforce the laws. If they don’t, work to ensure your town hires and trains an Animal Control Officer. Make sure that the ACO has been through the Animal Cruelty Investigations training, without which they are not legally permitted to investigate animal cruelty.
  • Consider joining The Vermont Humane Federation.
What happens when I report animal cruelty or neglect?

When an animal cruelty or neglect report is submitted, the town’s Animal Control Officer (ACO) or law enforcement agency should visit the animal owner who is the subject of the complaint. In most cases, the ACO first tries to rectify the situation by educating the pet owner about how to provide better care for the animal(s). If the situation does not improve, a ticket may be issued or a search warrant may be obtained. Law enforcement and ACO’s are very busy so you may not get a call back. Investigating a report can take time, so don’t expect to see immediate change. You can remain anonymous anytime you register a report of cruelty or neglect.

Thank you for helping make Vermont safer and kinder for all its beings.
Reporting animal cruelty

Providing Temporary Care

If you are willing and able to provide temporary care to an animal in the event of an emergency, seizure, or surrender, please email NCAL.

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