As a small non-profit organization, the Central Vermont Humane Society does not have the ability to investigate cruelty or neglect complaints.  CVHS cannot write tickets or enforce laws.

If you see animal cruelty or neglect, please file your complaint with the Animal Control Officer (ACO) or with the law enforcement agency that serves the town where the animal is residing.  Call the Town Clerk of the town were the animal is residing to find out who the ACO is, or which law enforcement agency should be contacted.

IMPORTANT: If an animal is in immediate danger please contact the local law enforcement agency or the Vermont State Police barracks that covers the town where the animal is located.


  • What happens when I report animal cruelty or neglect?

When an animal cruelty or neglect report is made, the town’s 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.

  • What is animal cruelty?

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 some 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. To learn more about Vermont’s animal cruelty laws visit:

  • VT statutes: Title 13, Chapter 8 Humane and Proper Treatment of Animals
  • VT Statutes: Title 13, Chapter 9 Animals

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.

If you believe a situation involving an animal is in violation of the law, please file your complaint with the ACO or law enforcement agency that serves the town where the animal is residing.