Cruelty & Neglect
What defines animal cruelty?
Animal cruelty is prosecuted under state law.
It’s a felony if a person intentionally or knowingly:
•tortures an animal;
•kills, seriously injures, or administers poison to an animal
•causes one animal to fight with another;
Conducting a cockfight, in which roosters are pitted against each other while spectators gamble on the outcome, would be covered in the state law, punishable by time in prison.
A number of other offenses under the law are Class A misdemeanors.
Among the misdemeanor offenses is failure to provide food, care or shelter necessary to maintain an animal in a state of good health.
A severe example of that would be when an individual owns a large number of dogs, horses or cattle, and stops providing for them. Someone complains that the animals are malnourished and near starvation, and the animals are rescued and the owner prosecuted.
Transporting or confining an animal in a cruel manner also is a misdemeanor. An example would be leaving a pet in a locked car with windows up in summertime.
To abandon is defined as a person leaving an animal he owns without making reasonable arrangements for assumption of custody by someone else.
“Necessary food, care or shelter” includes food, care or shelter provided to the extent required to maintain the animal in a state of good health.
It is a defense to prosecution under the law if an animal were discovered on a person’s property in the act of, or immediately after, injuring or killing the person’s goats, sheep, cattle, horses, swine or poultry, and that person killed or injured the animal at the time of discovery.
It’s also a defense under the law if a person had a reasonable fear of bodily injury to himself or another by a dangerous wild animal.