My neighbors are neglecting /maybe abusing their dog – what can I do?

Our question this week was:

Hi Dr. Debra,

I am having a problem with my new neighbors next door. They moved in at the beginning of the summer. They are a young couple and seem relatively nice. Being the person that I am, I welcomed them to the neighborhood and made small talk. I allowed them to come into my house and see what I have done with my place as they were trying to see what the possibilities are with their home. I live in a row home so my neighbors are literally attached to me.

About a month after they moved in they got a beagle. She is adorable. She was about 4-months-old when they got her and named her Heidi. I’m not sure if Heidi was given to them or they bought her, but I noticed immediate mistreatment. They are constantly yelling at her, not training her and not spending any time with her. I also picked up on the fact that they both either go to school or work and were leaving Heidi outside all day.

There is no awning in their yard and they leave one bowl of water in the sun, mind you not much shade, all day. I thought once the days started getting hotter they would bring her inside. They haven’t done it. Originally they said they didn’t want to leave her inside because she kept going to the bathroom in the house. I assumed they would train her and the problem would be solved. It’s not. Heidi has managed to sneak her way in my yard and while doing it fell down my cement wall and scraped her belly. When I picked her up, she was steaming hot. I have noticed that Heidi spends the majority of the day and sometimes the night outside by herself. There have been times when it is 9 or 10 at night and there is a thunderstorm and she is outside. I hear her crying…and it is breaking my heart! I can’t just take the dog because she is not my mine. But I have my dog for almost 5 yrs and he is treated better than some humans. I would love to help Heidi out. Honestly I couldn’t take an untrained dog right now because of my work hours but I am distraught about her. I even handed this couple a book that I used on training dogs…I don’t think they looked at it. I just don’t know what to do at this point. Please help!

Melissa – Phila., PA

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Hi – thanks for your email. Gosh, I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. You are dealing with a few things – 1. Being a good neighbor and not causing problems and 2. Being concerned about animal abuse or neglect. I know if you live next to someone that last thing you want to do is to have a bad relationship with that person – especially in a row house.

It sounds like you have tried to give them some cues (by giving the book) and you don’t think they took advantage of those opportunities.

I guess you have a few options (but not a lot). The first option is to talk to them about dog ownership responsibility and the concern about the dog not being trained and being left outside. It is difficult to do this in a non-confrontational way that will still leave you as friends. 2. You can call the local humane society, tell them your concerns and ask them to assess the situation to see if they believe animal abuse or neglect is taking place and let them deal with it or take the dog away.

Either option could harm your relationship. The best thing for the dog would be to someone to assess the situation and determine if they are giving the dog a reasonable quality of life.

Let me also ask our petplace readers their thoughts – what would the rest of you do in this situation or what would you advise? Please email me your thoughts!

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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