'Smell the Stench:' Friend Backed for Reporting Mom Over Feared Pet Neglect

A post recently went viral on Mumsnet after a person under the username loveoflavender shared a story of how they reported a friend of approximately 13 years for pet negligence, but they were now worried that it made them a "terrible friend."

The post titled "To report my friend for pet neglect?" was shared on the site's AIBU? (Am I Being Unreasonable?) channel and has so far received 110 replies. An accompanying poll has amassed a total of 567 votes, with 97 percent voting that the OP (Original Poster) was not being unreasonable.

According to the user, their female friend "has owned many animals" in the past 13 years, including cats, dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs and more. At the moment, she reportedly owns three cats, a Chihuahua and a tortoise, all of whom are regularly being neglected and left alone at home for several days a week.

"I am sorry to say she is absolutely hopeless at looking after these animals," the user wrote.

Dog next to an empty feeding bowl
A post on Mumsnet went viral after a user shared how they reported a friend of 13 years for pet negligence. This stock image shows a dog lying next to an empty food bowl. Getty Images/Zontica

The OP then described the friend's living situation: "She lives in a [one-bed] housing association flat where I know for a fact she is not allowed to keep these animals as per their rules." The user also mentioned that she had also repeatedly ignored the rules in her previous two addresses.

The friend now resides with her partner and their one-year-old daughter, and according to the OP, "she is not exactly capable of caring for her either." The user describes that the friend's partner takes on a primary role when it comes to caring for the child.

"Social Services are already involved there," the OP added.

The user then proceeded to share all the ways that their friend usually neglects her pets. As per the OP's description, the friend regularly left her pets "unattended for two-to-four days at a time," while she and her family "go off to stay with friends" at least once per week.

The user also confirmed with their friend that the pets are being left alone with "no one" to look after them or feed them. "She leaves a bowl of biscuits down for them, and a bowl of water," they said, which the pet owner believes to be sufficient enough to last all the five animals for several days.

According to the OP, the pet owner's behavior even caused her "carer/personal assistant" to complain to Social Services, when she had discovered "dog and cat faeces were on the floor" next to the child.

In addition, the user also said that their friend allegedly failed to get "a proper vivarium" for the tortoise, while the Chihuahua "gets [little-to-no] exercise" due to a lack of dog walks.

The pet owner is also believed to have been previously "forced to rehome pets due to lack of care and also not being allowed to keep them in the property." The user said that their friend had previously said that she "wants pets" regardless.

"...just because you WANT a pet, doesn't mean you would be a good owner," the OP pointed out.

The user then shared that "the last straw came when she once again decided to bugger off for days at a time and leave these animals unattended for 4 days around Easter, whilst she went off gallivanting with other friends." The OP said that during the pet owner's absence, her neighbors noticed that "the dog barked, whined and scratched the doors all day long, every day."

"...they commented on how they could smell the stench from passing by her doorway after just one day!" they added.

After the incident, the OP decided to report their friend to the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), while the neighbors reported the pet owner to the HA (Housing Association). The pet owner appears to be unaware of the fact that her friend had reported her, as the RSPCA has refused to reveal that information.

"She's angry and upset, claims that she's not a bad pet owner at all, and people are trying to ruin her life," the OP said. "I have distanced myself from her, and have not told her it was me as she will definitely fly off the handle."

Towards the end of the post, the OP asked other users for their opinion on whether they were unreasonable for reporting their friend, as the OP felt like "a terrible friend" and was "wracked with guilt."

"I just could not sit back and hear about those poor animals being neglected anymore," they wrote.

Since the post was shared, many users have expressed their support for the OP's decision in the comment section.

"You 100% did the right thing. Sounds like she shouldn't be keeping animals at all. I hope she's banned for life from owning a pet in the future," one user wrote.

"YANBU (You are not being unreasonable). I would report her in a heartbeat and live with the consequences, as I'd rather that than live with knowing I did nothing to at least try to end those poor animals suffering. I have a voice, they don't," another commented.

"I don't think I could be friends with someone like this." one user added.

"Horrendous. I hope she's banned from keeping pets for life," another commenter shared.

Meanwhile, others struggled to understand why the OP hadn't reported their friend earlier if they had known about the pet neglect before.

"I am afraid that [you are being very unreasonable] for waiting this long before reporting it," one user said, to which the OP responded with the following: "I didn't actually know about just how neglectful she was of her pets prior to this last year. Otherwise I would have reported her years ago. I found out through other former friends of hers who did know and did report her. Please don't assume that I just let this slide for 13 years!"

"I wish I had known sooner then I could have done something sooner. That is also where a lot of my guilt lies," they added.

Animal neglect

According to a research paper published by the Michigan State University College of Law, the 2007 Animal Welfare Act in the U.K. created a "welfare offence for failing to provide adequate care for an animal," covering animal negligence and introducing "tougher penalties and additional enforcement measures for neglect and cruelty."

The Humane Society of the United States describes that animal neglect falls into the "animal cruelty" category, as a harmful act toward animals, regardless of whether it's intentional or deliberate. The organization defines animal neglect situations as those "in which the animal's caretaker or owner fails to provide food, water, shelter or veterinary care sufficient for survival."

"Many states have a provision specifically addressing animal neglect written into their animal cruelty laws, [while] others allow animal neglect to be prosecuted under the general cruelty statute prohibiting acts of 'torture' against an animal."

According to the information posted on the PetHelpful website, "neglect and abandonment are the most common forms of abuse towards domestic animals in the United States." In fact, statistics gathered in 2018 revealed that death by neglect covers 32.4 percent of all animal abuse death cases in the U.S., with lethal gunshot (11.6 percent) coming in second place.

Newsweek previously covered a story of how a dog owner in Florida was arrested after reportedly using a BB gun to shoot her pets after they tried to dig out of her yard. The two dogs were shot nearly 200 times, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. Also in Florida, a labrador was euthanized in April after being found with a knife stabbed in its back on the side of a road.