Q: We’ve heard more than one case this month of cruelty to animals in local news. How often do police take reports of animal cruelty? Why would someone hurt an animal and what can we do to stop this type of crime?

A: In our division we saw about 10 to 15 reports of animal cruelty in a year, 2006-2007, so it’s not an incredibly common occurrence. But it’s the type of crime that really gets people’s attention — it’s upsetting. For example, there was a shocking case in 2006 of a man witnesses say was slamming kittens on the ground and kicking them toward a pit pull. The story made nationwide news. Obviously it’s difficult to understand why someone would hurt or kill an animal. It’s hard to understand why people hurt people too, for that matter. Sometimes offenders might hurt a neighbor’s pet if it is bothering them — barking, digging, growling and so forth. Some people are just mean to animals. Very rarely is it as a means to make way to commit a burglary or other offense. When we receive a report of cruelty to animals, the case is assigned to a detective. We always involve Animal Control or the SPCA when investigating a case of animal cruelty. Sometimes a coyote attack or an accident can look like an intentional infliction of harm; other times it’s obviously intentional. If you see someone abusing an animal, call us. If the animal is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. You can also call animal control or the SPCA for non-emergency situations. Keep your pets contained. Don’t let them get loose and try to keep them from being a nuisance to neighbors. The most common calls we get involving animals is dog bites, loose or vicious dogs. Owners should always be responsible for their pets.