We seem to hear a lot more about animal abuse cases these days. A New Jersey SPCA official says increased awareness about this ongoing problem has a good and a bad side.

NJSPCA members will crackdown on pets left in hot cars. (humonia, ThinkStock)

Captain Rick Yocum of the SPCA's enforcement division says social media and the internet are among the greatest developments in the battle against animal abuse.

"People are being exposed to and understanding that this is a massive problem, and people are reading the stories," he said.

While the internet helps bring awareness about animal cruelty, Yocum said the information superhighway can also have a negative impact when it comes to animal welfare and abuse. The downside is that people often post misinformation online and it can be misinterpreted or accepted as truth. This often results in arguments among good-intentioned people in the animal welfare world.

"It has its good side and it has its bad side," Yokum said. "I don't think there has been a spike in the amount of animal cruelty that is taking place. But certainly there has been a spike in the number of people reporting animal cruelty, because it has become a very important social issue to a lot of people."

According to Yokum, there are several reasons why people neglect, abuse or are cruel to animals. Some of it is outright ignorance of the facts. In some cases, however, people may believe they're doing something positive for the animals, when in fact, they may be doing more harm than good, such as with animal hoarders. By nature, hoarders actually care about animals, Yokum said. But something clicks and they become hoarders, thinking it's their role in life to take care of these animals because no one else can. Yocum says in the meantime, the animals are getting sick and dying.

Yocum said there are also people who don't look at animals as living beings with feelings.

"They look at it as a piece of property and to them it doesn't matter. It is that dog or a replacement dog. They couldn't care less, and we deal with that as well."

The SPCA will be out in force next Saturday in shore towns looking for people who leave their pets in hot cars.

"A lot of people who leave their dog in a car, they know they are doing the wrong thing because they will park the car in the corner of a parking lot, away from everybody.  And we can usually spot a vehicle that has a dog in it when we pull into a shopping center parking lot, because the windows are smudged and are all cracked two inches," Yokum said. "The car is parked over in the corner of the parking lot underneath a small tree."

He said the SPCA has arrest powers for Title 4 violations, which are the animal cruelty laws, specifically. It is very important that people know the two state statutes that prohibit people from leaving animals unattended in vehicles under inhumane conditions.