Pig in pig farm

Emergencies and Abuse in Animal Husbandry – What to Do

FOUR PAWS gives tips on what to do as a witness of farm animal suffering


Have you witnessed cruelty to farm animals, or maybe your in doubt whether the neighbour's animal husbandry is animal-friendly. FOUR PAWS shows you when there is an urgent need for action and you should take care of it.

A kind word goes a long way

According to the expert's experience, poor housing conditions for pets and farm animals are often not based on intent or malice, but rather ignorance or a lack of interest in the needs of the animals. That is why it sometimes helps to explain to the owner in a friendly manner that his animal is suffering and at the same time to point out appropriate remedies.

But there are also situations that require immediate action.

In this case, you should not hesitate and contact the responsible veterinary office immediately or, if life-threatening situations for the animals are concerned, call the nearest police station who can advise how to act.

When is immediate action necessary?

Emergency aid for an injured or suffering farm animal: 

  • You are obviously observing sick or injured animals
  • An animal is wedged somewhere, cannot get out without help and is in immediate danger of serious injury (e.g. a sheep with its head caught in a wire fence)
  • An animal lies injured or lifeless in the pasture or in the stable
  • Animal is our of the pasture/lost

If you know who the owner of the animals is, reach out to them as soon as possible. Only directly help if you can safely to do so.

Animal cruelty:

  • An animal is beaten or mistreated
  • Animals are in abandoned animal transporters that are parked somewhere
  • Cattle, pigs in stalls that are dark or too small or in stalls with very poor air quality
  • You notice tethered cattle with necklaces that are too tight or ingrown, tethered calves (the latter is prohibited)
  • Animals exposed to weather conditions without any protection, lack of watering facilities/water tubs
  • Animals that are poorly fed or cared for, for example with overly long claws or hooves

If you are not sure whether the husbandry is relevant to animal welfare or if you have received information from third parties, FOUR PAWS recommends the following procedure:

1. Secure evidence
Document the incident with photos or videos and note the address or memorise the exact location of the place. Witnesses and your own willingness to appear as a witness are also important additions.

2. Contact the veterinary office
Give the evidence to the relevant veterinary office along with a precise description of the situation.

3. File a complaint
You have the option of filing a complaint against the holder with the responsible police authority or directly with the public prosecutor's office.

4. Talk to helpers on site
Try to get local animal welfare groups or animal shelters on board. You can achieve more together.

If you have reported an abuse in animal husbandry, you should also show responsibility for aftercare.

Cattle in transport

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