Top 5 Prosecuted Animal-related Crimes

Posted on November 2, 2015

For immediate release:

Contact:
Patricia Jones, Animal Legal Defense Fund, PJones@aldf.org, 718 651 7187

sad-dog-cc-cameron-bennett-article-image-230PITTSBURGH, PA — Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the nation’s leading legal advocacy organization for animals, released the top 5 animal-related crimes that are prosecuted in the United States. Though details of the laws vary from state to state, animal cruelty is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and these crimes can include felony charges.

ALDF and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys are sponsoring the 5th Annual National Animal Cruelty Prosecution Conference, November 4 – 6, 2015, in Pittsburgh, PA. The conference includes three days of law enforcement-specific training to help police, animal control officers and prosecutors from across the nation secure justice for these voiceless victims.

Although the exact number of incidents will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, according to Animal Legal Defense Fund, the most commonly prosecuted crimes are:

  1. Neglect. Animal neglect is the failure to provide basic care required for an animal to thrive. Such cases may seem less egregious than a single, brutal act of violent abuse, but severe neglect can mean extended periods of extreme suffering resulting in permanent injury or death. A single large-scale neglect case can affect hundreds of animals, as in cases of hoarding, puppy mills, and livestock neglect. This offense is most commonly related to dog and cat care, but closely followed by horse care. By definition, these crimes are aggravated in that the offenders occupy a position of trust as the victim animal’s owner or caretaker.
  2. Affirmative Acts of Abuse. Animal cruelty of this nature is intentionally carried out to injure or kill an animal. Unlike neglect, any person—whether or not they own the animal—can commit these crimes. Often these cases garner a great deal of media attention due to the shocking behavior involved. Affirmative acts of abuse include every conceivable cruel act: from lighting animals on fire to using power tools to torture and kill animals. Affirmative acts of abuse also include cases of domestic violence where abusing animals is part of the offender’s system of maintaining power and control over the human victim.
  3. Animal Fighting. Animal fighting is a contest in which people cause two animals to fight for the purpose of human entertainment. In some instances, typically during training prior to an organized fight, docile animals are used as bait to cement the bloodlust in the animal being prepared to fight. The most common forms of animal fighting in the United States are dogfighting and cockfighting. Animal fighting is regularly accompanied by other crimes, including gambling, money laundering, weapons offenses, and conspiracy. As a result, many states are amending their organized crime laws (racketeering) to include animal fighting as a predicate offense.
  4. Abandonment. This crime is committed when an animal is deliberately cast off by its owner. There has been a significant spike in these cases due to owners leaving their pets behind in home foreclosure cases.
  5. Bestiality. Taboo as a subject to be sure, sexual crimes against animals are not exceptional, isolated incidents. The case facts run a wide range – from individual animals assaulted by their owners in their homes, to organized bestiality events held at clandestine, often rural locations. The ugly reality is that bestiality is not yet expressly illegal in all 50 states.

Animal Legal Defense Fund is dedicated to ensuring more animal cruelty cases are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The national nonprofit provides assistance to prosecutors nationwide—with research and recruiting expert witnesses. ALDF also regularly offers rewards in cruelty cases for information that leads to arrest and conviction. This incentive encourages brave individuals with information to come forward.

In 2013, ALDF formed a partnership with the Oregon District Attorneys Association and ALDF is now providing grant funding for a statewide dedicated animal cruelty prosecutor who is available to handle any animal abuse case for any one of Oregon’s 36 District Attorneys. This is the first program of its kind in the nation—but ALDF plans to provide animal protection designated prosecutors to additional jurisdictions.

“It is important to enforce the laws we have in place to protect animals—to show criminals that acts of animal cruelty do not go unnoticed or unpunished,” says Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director. “It is equally important to continue to fight for stronger laws that protect animals, and oppose and defeat laws that put them in danger.”


11 thoughts on “Top 5 Prosecuted Animal-related Crimes

  1. Ella Korn says:

    My dog was shot four times by a police officer. He was on a tie out cable at my sons laying on the top step. My granddaughter who is not quite two was inside the trailer watching him. Bones was waiting on me to pick him up. The policeman went onto my sons property without announcing himself. He startled my dog and my dog went towards him protecting my granddaughter
    He was shot four times. I got him to the vet as quickly as possible
    He is alive and will be okay. I have to go to court and prove he is not a dangerous dog
    The policeman has not been charged. I have 1300 dollars in vet bills to pay. Is there anyway to hold the policeman responsible?

    1. Darlene Moak says:

      Hi Ella. I am so sorry that your Bones was shot but very glad that he is OK. Unfortunately, the unjustified shooting and often murder of canine family members by law enforcement officers happens far far too often. There are many Facebook pages devoted dogs that have been shot by police officers. Each case is different & laws vary between different areas of the country. In general, police can do what they want simply by saying “I felt threatened…” If you could afford a lawyer & file a civil suit for damages, that would be great but lawyers are expensive. Good luck to you and Bones!

      1. pat dupree says:

        what about an ALDF appointed lawyer or a pro bono list that ucould point her in the direction of . last part of ur reply was cold to someone asking for help . everyone already knows lawyers are ecpensive . animalcontrol with arrest cspability ? New LAWS protecting prople from cops ? hell , postmen women dont shoot pets !!!!!!!! this wrong . are u guys working with peoples ideas to come up with something ? ! Thank u for what u ARE accomplishing re other ectensive cruelty issues . THANK U WITH ALL MY HEART . U ARE SAVING A PART OF MY SANITY AND LESSENING COMPASSION ECHAUSTION FOR ME . HELP THOSE DUCKS !!!!!

    2. pat dupree says:

      Ella , u keep looking for kustice . hell postmen dont shoot pets !!!!!! keep trying agencie – HSUS , ASPCA , CHECK UR STATE ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER LEVEL ( arrest capability ) CITIZEN ARREST , go fund me to raise funds for a laywer ( protect next victim from freak cop ) , address with cop training , delve further into ALDF , PRO BONO lawyers , contact animal law professionals !!! Get surveillance camera – post that it is there to yes intimidate the next freak cop . Look , I have seen freak cops . they exist and do NOT earn respect . it is on them not u or I .

  2. Elgrit B. Russell says:

    For 45 years I have been in animal welfare and have devoted my life to helping animals. Somehow we must put into place laws outlawing these horrible sadistic deeds perpetrated upon animals. Enforcement on a high level must be available immediately and those guilty must be punished in the most severe way possible, with jail and financial methods. These atrocities must end NOW.

  3. Donna E. Szlosek says:

    anyone who hurts an animal deserves the same treatment on them but 2X as bad.

  4. Sabine Schreindorfer-Gruber says:

    Please help!!

    1. WE ARE IN DESPERATE NEED OF SHELTER REFORM! shelter KILL EVEN IF THEY HAVE A RESCUE OR ADOPTER WAITING ON THE ANIMAL! THEY DON’T CHECK FOR MICROCHIPS OR ANY IDENTIFYING INFO!
      tHE KILL RATE FOR SHELTERS IS TOO HIGH! THEY ALL HAVE DIFFERENT RULES, RESULTING IN ANIMAL DEATHS AND OR ABUSE!I REPORTED A CASE TO THE POLICE WHERE THE ANIMAL HAD NO FOOD OR WATER! THE POLICE INVESTIGATED AND CLAIMED NO ABUSE WAS EVIDENT! THE DOG DIED!

  5. Northfalke says:

    Thank you for the informative article.

    I noticed a few times in the story that you refer to the humans in control of animals as “owners.”

    Many people are seeking to change that name to “Guardian,” as a way to change the way people think about human animal relations. This is just food for thought for your writers and editors.

    best,

  6. Ooi Yu Li says:

    HELP STOP Animal cruelty today! Let us show our humane aspect which makes us unique.

  7. Richard Ordonez says:

    Couldn’t agree more Northfalke. Our pets are actual members of the family, fur-babies per se. And we, as responsible “guardians” must treat them as such.

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