Filing a complaint

Cruelty towards any animal is a crime in Pennsylvania. Penalties for animal cruelty can vary from summary to felony levels.

Pet owners must:

  • Provide sufficient food and clean water for an animal to maintain its body weight
  • Provide clean and sanitary shelter which will protect the animal against inclement weather, keep the animal dry, and be adequate to preserve the animals own body heat
  • Provide veterinary care if an animal is sick or injured

What Humane Police Officers Do:

  • Serve as Police Officers, with powers of arrest, sworn to enforce the cruelty laws under authority granted by State Statute 22 Pa.C.S.A. Chapter 37
  • Humane Officers investigate allegations of cruelty, neglect and animal fighting as defined under Title 18, Chapter 55, Subchapter B of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code
  • Rescue mistreated or abandoned animals
  • Prosecute animal abusers in court
  • Work diligently to assure the safety of the pets and people in the community
  • Educate pet owners on proper care of their animals and offer resources for help to retain pets

What Humane Society Police Officers Do Not Do:

  • In Pennsylvania, Humane Officers are not permitted to enforce dog laws concerning licensing, rabies, vaccinations, dangerous dogs, dog attacks, dog bites, barking complaints, nuisance violations and running-at-large issues. Please contact your local Animal Control or local police for any of these situations
  • Humane Officers are not permitted to enter private residences without permission or a search warrant – nor can they seize animals without proper cause
  • Humane Officers are not permitted to enforce any laws that involve theft. Custody conflicts regarding animals generally are civil in nature and must be addressed by an attorney
  • Humane Officers are not permitted to give out any legal advice – nor can they enforce any local ordinances involving animals

If you suspect abuse, neglect, abandonment of their pets, or animal fighting within Allegheny County, please contact our Humane Investigations Department at 412-345-7300 ext.245 or

Do not provide anything that you did not witness or things that someone else told you. Hearsay and secondhand information cannot be investigated and is not admissible in court. Only those with firsthand knowledge of the animal cruelty should file a report. Our Humane Investigations Department is staffed Monday-Friday from 7 am – 5 pm. If you need to report an animal cruelty situation during non-business hours, or In Case Of Emergency, please call 911. Local police can also enforce the animal cruelty laws, which can be found in Title 18, Chapter 55, Subchapter B of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.

If you are an eyewitness, please provide the following:

  • Contact information; name, phone number and an email address (if available). Your contact information may aid in our investigation if we need further information from you.
  • A detailed description of your concerns and observations.
  • An accurate address and a physical description of the location of the alleged abuse. If you do not know the address, please provide the nearest cross street, the nearest address and clear directions to the location.
  • Please advise if you have alerted other agencies or organizations of your concerns.

All reports of animal abuse are kept confidential, but in many cases we are not able to investigate anonymous complaints. In some cases a signed witness affidavit/statement form must be obtained in order to proceed with our investigation. As a result of an investigation, complainants may be subpoenaed to provide court testimony and be identified, in open court, as a witness for the prosecution. If your complaint is within our jurisdiction, it will be accepted and an investigation will be initiated. If not, we will give you the phone number for the correct agency.

Local Animal Control should be contacted for animals running at-large, vaccine and license violations, exceeding the local pet limit and nuisance violations. If you are within Pittsburgh City limits and you suspect that a local animal control ordinance is being violated please contact the City of Pittsburgh Animal Control: 412-255-2036.

Our Humane Investigations Department relies solely on donations to continue to help fight cruelty.

You can donate here to help.