Legally Brief: FBI Takes Animal Cruelty Seriously

Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on September 25, 2014

Legally Brief

At the Animal Legal Defense Fund, we are often asked for statistics about animal cruelty crimes—which for too long have been unavailable: until now. Animal cruelty will now be tracked and recorded by the FBI in the National Incident Based Reporting System as a separate offense. This important development will allow the FBI to better allocate resources to solve animal cruelty cases and provide valuable insight into the scope of animal abuse nationally. With this new inclusion in the Uniform Crime Report—the most comprehensive source of crime statistics—law enforcement is given the tools to allocate resources to fight animal cruelty and an incentive to prosecute animal cruelty to the full extent of the law.

Recently, ALDF sent a letter of support for this change, which the National Sheriffs’ Association presented to the FBI. The Animal Legal Defense Fund applauds the tireless efforts of the National Sheriff’s Association, the Animal Welfare Institute, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (of whom ALDF is a member), who worked hard to help make this change happen.

But it’s also more evidence that our society as a whole wants its law enforcement to take animal cruelty seriously. Armed with this data, law enforcement can better respond to cruelty cases that previously may have gone ignored. The report provides the FBI with statistics on when and where animal crimes happen so they can dedicate more time, training, and funding to solve these cases. The changes will be implemented in 2015 and collected data will be accepted in 2016.


With this change, crimes against animals become crimes against society, legally speaking. Four categories of animal cruelty will be monitored: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse, and animal sexual abuse. As ALDF supporters know, the work we do involves aiding in the investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty cases as well as helping to fund forensic evidence collections and even offering rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of perpetrators. We work with police officers, investigators, district attorneys, and other officers of the law to ensure crimes against animals are met with justice. But we are also creating a national Do Not Adopt database that shelters and rescue organizations can use nationwide to prevent convicted animal abusers—who have a very high likelihood of repeating their crimes—from adopting animals.

Of course, there’s more work to be done, but this is an important step forward to securing criminal justice for animals through the legal system and recognizing that animals deserve legal protection, too.

14 thoughts on “Legally Brief: FBI Takes Animal Cruelty Seriously

  1. FRANCES HUNT says:

    So very much appreciated and needed.

  2. Tommy DeSantis says:

    Hi, I’m not a lawyer but have worked in law for a 1/3rd of my career. This is all exciting and encouraging news; we have to keep the momentum going forward by leveraging social media globally and in each of our local areas. By doing this we will raise public awareness and raise precious funds to continue this work. Hope this helps!

  3. I have tried to get our local sheriff dept to investigated a man named Daniel Holmes aka Cowboy. He goes to sale barns and buys horses at a low price them brings them to his rental property at 9595 hwy69 north between Camden TN and Big Sandy TN.He neglects them and they literally starve to death. We managed to rescue one this year. And the local law men arrested a lady and charged her with being a horse thief. He has a horse on the property now that is going down hill very fast. Local law enforcement turns a blind eye to this man. I don’t know if he is that dangerous or if they are just all cowards.We need help.PETA is trying but they can’t get and help from the local sheriff snd his band of good ole boys. Can you help us. Sincerely Yours Jan Patterso 731220 0475.

  4. Mercedes C says:

    Thank you for the great news, I would love to know if that will apply for Countries like Colombia and China? it will be awesome if the people in those countries get punished for torturing, abusing and killing dogs and other defenseless animals, please tell me that it will be possible as well. I would love to share a video, this is making me very sad and I cant still feel better about this poor dog, I cant imagine her pain. I wish I was there to help her.

    1. RaviK says:

      why, China and Colombia, start at home first. Why don’t we all ask the government to stop allowing animal cruelty in factory farms in the USA? Why are animals in farms exempt? And why are people who try to bring this inhumanity to light prosecuted and thrown in jail? Isn’t it a bit hypocritical?.

      After all animals are animals aren’t they? The cruel and inhumane treatment that these animals are put through pales in comparison to killing and eating of a dog in some country where it is accepted. The majority of people here subscribe to this inhumane treatment of animals right here at home by consuming the products that are borne out of extreme cruelty but weep for the dogs in China and throw the guy who kicks a dog in the sidewalk in jail. I think we have an elephant in the room to contend with. No?

      1. carol givens-hulbert says:

        You are so right! First of all, I’ve found that every state who has factory farming as an industry has proposed AG-GAG laws or, sadly, in a couple states these laws have passed. Residents of these states must find out when AG-GAG laws are proposed and fight them so they won’t be enacted and the states now are coming up with deceptive titles for their AG-GAG proposals, so they cannot be recognized at a glance and identified for what they are– basically a request for legal abuse, it’s unreal that OUR Department of Agriculture is behind these AG-GAG laws. For instance, here in NC the proposed AG-GAG law is entitled “Interference with local Commerce” which doesn’t sound a lot like what it actually is but if you read the details of the proposed law, it bans cameras on factory farms and makes it a felony to lie on a job application to a factory farm, which is how Mercy For Animals get their people hired and in these torture farms to film. NO where else in this country is it a felony to lie on a job application, ONLY on an application for a factory farm job. These farms and the money they bring in buy protection from way up in politics and money is all that matters to these people. The torture that goes on, I believe, in EVERY factory farm in this country is so evil, vile, an abomination of life itself and it has to end. This is a tough battle as we are a very spoiled nation and quite used to having what we want, when we want it but if more people saw what they are actually serving their family for dinner, they could just get on board with what is only right and decent and this is what the factory farmer and countless politicians will do a lot to avoid– people seeing the TRUTH, hence, all these proposed AG-GAG laws. You can go right on Wikipedia, look up AG-GAG laws and find your state and read the proposed law, or in a few sad cases, an AG-GAG law that has managed to pass because of the deceptive titles and FIGHT these amazingly horrid and ridiculous laws which do nothing but entitle the factory farms and their workers to inflict whatever heinous abuse on these dear animals they choose. And it’s all purely sickening. I have been a meat eater my whole life, it’s how I and most all of us were raised but all it took for me was watching a couple Mercy For Animals videos to become vegan. Becoming vegan is an adjustment but I’m so much more healthy for it and companies are coming out with more and more meat substitutes made from vegetables, to taste like meat, that are actually quite good. It just takes a little adjustment, are we so spoiled and selfish a nation that we can’t do that to save these innocent lives? As well, factory farms, and the way they force breed the animals to make more and more, faster and faster and the drugs they give them to make them grow bigger faster is one of the MAIN causes of the climate change that is going to kill off thousands of species because these farmers have no ay to properly dispose of the waste from all the animals, so it’s going into our waters and traveling into the oceans and rising from the waters into the air and on this path from the farms to the air, the toxins are killing everything in their path. EVERY time you buy meat at the grocery store, you contribute to all of this horror. I can’t do it anymore. I love nothing more than a good steak on the grill but when I think of what the cow went through to get to my selfish plate as well what it’s doing to the earth, no, I cannot do it anymore, I WON’T. I saw a cow rescued once from a factory farm. She was taken to a sanctuary where she would graze free the rest of her life. This cow had never seen or touched grass and her reaction made me cry– nothing unusual, I’m in rescue, I cry every single day, but this cow so touched my heart and soul and made me more determined than ever to help these animals who are excluded from any laws against cruelty to animals in EVERY SINGLE STATE in this country. This dear cow was so happy, she ran, literally kicking her back feet in the air with joy. Her rescuer started to pet her and she laid down and rolled over for a belly rub just as a dog would! She was gentle, so loving and in spite of horrors she’d been through, she was so very grateful to the human who had rescued her. I think as a nation, we’ve been deceived as to the level of intelligence farm animals have, which is no different from a dog or cat. Each one is special, with their own special and very individual personality, including chickens and turkeys, which I think people feel are brainless and that’s NOT the case. They all want to live; they all feel pain and sorrow; it’s a real tragedy and horrid abomination how we’ve allowed them to be treated for far too long. I realize we just didn’t know, most of us, I know I didn’t, but now we do so there are no more excuses, the horror that is these animals’ lives must come to an end. These farmers can grow vegetables, there is a lot they could farm and make a living without the abuse and murder of so many of God’s creatures. Like it or not, medical as well as recreational marijuana will be legal in all states before too long, talk about a cash crop, farmers can grow that. If we could only become a NO KILL NATION, we’d all be healthier, the animals would have lives they were meant to, and we’d be doing the planet so much good! NO kill is win win all the way around!

  5. Diane Sagnotty says:

    Does this include animal abuse done by corporations (labs, leather, dairy)?

  6. Marta Djordjevic says:

    We need to protect them !!!

  7. Angelina says:

    This is phenomenal!!!

  8. Makes no difference. Collecting data on crimes does NOTHING. Establishing a correlation does NOTHING. They determined a long time ago that animal abuse and violent crimes against people go hand in hand. What needs to happen is for them to demand proscutors bring these people to Justice. To many still refuse to bring our pursue charges against violators.

    1. Kathleen says:

      Hallie, this does mean stricter penalties, does it not? It re-classifies animal abuse and neglect, raising it to a crime against society in the same category as homicide, arson, burglary – to my understanding. Perhaps you are saying our judicial system won’t take it seriously? Aren’t they mandated to do that by the law alone?

  9. Rosemarie Russo says:

    This is great news. I hope the sad cases of elephants, tigers, and other wild animals in circuses is included under this.

  10. Rosemarie Russo says:

    This is great news. I hope elephants, tigers, and other wild animals exploited and mistreated in circuses are included.

  11. Cathie Hines says:

    How about animal shelters that routinely euthanize healthy animals that are only held for seven days before being euthanized? This is also abuse.

Be a Partner in Protection!

Donate monthly to help animals.

or make a one-time gift »

ALDF's Online Store

Help fund our lifesaving work!


Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.

Join Us

Follow ALDF on these networks:

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.