By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – According to the Humane Society of the United States, animal abuse and cruelty can either be deliberate by perpetrating the action or by neglect, by failing to care for an animal or ignoring an animal in need.

And whether that animal is a pet, a stray or wildlife, it IS cruelty. It is intentionally injuring or harming an animal or depriving an animal of food, water or necessary medical care. Be observant of abuse and neglect when you witness a thin or starving animal, severe flea and tick infestation, a wounded or limping animal, dogs who are chained and deprived of food, water or shelter or are isolated for extremely long periods of time without necessities, animals left outside in extreme weather conditions, animals left in cars in the heat or someone striking or harming an animal in any way.

Animal cruelty is a crime. Every state now has protection for dogs and cats regarding animal cruelty laws and a majority of states regard abuse as felonies and rightfully so.

If you, in some way, witness or suspect any type of animal abuse, neglect or cruelty of any kind, the Humane Society (HSUS) advises that you document the date, time and location of the incident. Make note of the type of animal involved. Also, if possible, use of any type of video or picture can be helpful, even from your cell phone.

Immediately contact the authorities or an animal protection agency such as the Philadelphia SPCA at its animal cruelty hotline at 1-866-601-SPCA or 215 426-6300.

In NJ, call 800-582-5979 or fill out NJSPCA’s online form.

The most important thing you can do is to report the cruelty immediately.