MENTOR, Ohio — Just weeks ago, Willoughby Hills police found a young dog named Hazel frozen in the snow. Her body temperature was 10 degrees below where it should have been. She was picked up and rushed to Lake Humane Society for treatment.
Officials there have seen a steady increase in animal neglect and cruelty cases.
"In 2021, we had 403 suspected cases of animal cruelty and neglect," says Lake Humane Society Executive Director Lori Caszatt. That was a 24% increase from the year prior.
"When we see such a giant jump in numbers like that, it’s very concerning to us," Caszatt adds.
It's a disturbing trend that's affecting Lake County more than others. Summit County Humane Society didn't see a significant increase in calls in 2021. While Cleveland APL did see a 29% increase in calls in 2021, calls are still down compared to 2019.
In Lake County, calls are steadily increasing, some of which are bad enough to lead to prosecution. Caszatt believes COVID-19 is a contributing factor as most cases involve malnourishment.
"Many people have also lost their jobs. They’re not able to feed their pets, they’re not able to take them to the veterinarian for routine exams and vaccinations which is also a concern," she adds.
But there are ways to get help. Lake Humane Society is operating an animal food bank of sorts, with the goal of making sure every animal has a safe home. Caszatt says every single case that is reported to her office is investigated.
All of these organizations that are out there to help animals don’t know when abuse or neglect is taking place. They often rely on tips from people who live in those neighborhoods. So just like police tell you, if you see something, say something.
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