Cruelty Laws

Every state in the United States and the District of Columbia has a law prohibiting cruelty to animals.  These laws do not give animals rights, but do afford some legal protection.  The purposes of these laws is to deter violence by humans in any form as well as to protect animals from mistreatment and cruelty by imposing a penalty for those acts.  Most of these laws fall under the purpose of morality, meaning the purpose is not to protect the animals, but to keep people on the straight and narrow.  Whatever the reason, many more states are recognizing that animal cruelty, neglect and abuse are serious issues.  There are now 41 states plus the District of Columbia with felony provisions for animal cruelty (32 plus DC with "Felony" specifically stated in the statute, 8 with felony punishments attached, but the status of the crime is not specifically defined).

The Animal Welfare Act is the Federal Law which provides regulations for research facilities, state and private run shelters and pounds, transportation of animals, and stolen animals.  It was originally passed in 1966 and has been amended multiple times through 1996.  One of the more interesting statutes, for our discussion, is that any state or private run shelter is required to hold an dog or cat for at least 5 days including a weekend day for recovery by the owner or adoption before selling it to a dealer (PUBLIC LAW 101-624, Sec. 28.a.1). For summaries and the full text of the Animal Welfare Act and Amendments, visit: http://www.nal.usda.gov/

To view a summary of the state's animal cruelty law and for a link to the text of the law itself, please see the two linked pages below, or download all of the state summaries in the PDF format.  Updated as of July, 2003.

Animal Cruelty Law Summaries, Alabama-Montana

Animal Cruelty Law Summaries, Nebraska-Wyoming


State & Statute

Felony Provision?

Maximum Sentence for First Offense

Alabama, Code 13A-11-14

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 6 months.
Intentional torture: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 10 years.

Alaska, Statute 11.61.140

No

Fine up to $5000, up to 1 year imprisonment.

Arizona, Statute 13-2910 et. seq.

Yes

Cruel treatment: Fine up to $2500, imprisonment for 6 months.
Intentional Cruel Neglect, Mistreatment: Fine up to $150,000, imprisonment up to 1.5 years.

Arkansas, Code 5-62-101 et seq.

No

Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 1 year.

California, Penal Code 596-597

Yes

Fine up to $20,000, imprisonment up to 1 year.

Colorado, Revised Statute 18-9-202, et seq.

Yes

Cruelty: Minimum fine of $400, maximum fine $5000, plus up to $400 surcharge for Animal Cruelty Prevention Fund.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine up to $100,000, imprisonment up to 18 months, 90 days mandatory.

Connecticut, Statute Section 53-247

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Intentional/Malicious Torture: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 5 years.

Delaware, Code Ann. Title 11, Part 1, Chapter 5, Subchapter VII, 1325 et seq.

Yes

Cruelty: $1000 fine, imprisonment up to 1 year, prohibits animal ownership for 5 years.
Intentional Cruelty: $5000 fine, imprisonment up to 5 years, prohibits animal ownership for 15 years.

District of Columbia (Washington DC), Ann. 22-1001 et seq.

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $250, imprisonment up to 180 days.
Cruelty resulting in serious injury or death: Fine up to $25,000, imprisonment up to 5 years.

Florida, Statute 828.12 et seq.

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Intentional Cruelty: Fine up to $10,000, imprisonment up to 5 years.
Intentional Cruelty with torture: Minimum fine of $2500 and psychological treatment.

Georgia, Code Ann. 16-12-4 et seq.

Yes (defined in Statute)

Cruelty: Fine up to $1000, Imprisonment up to 1 year.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine up to $15,000, imprisonment from 1 to 5 years.

Hawaii, Rev. Stat. 711-1109 et seq.

No

Fine up to $2000, imprisonment up to 1 year.

Idaho, Title 25, Chapter 35, 25-3501 et seq.

No

Fine of $100 to $5000, imprisonment up to 6 months.

Illinois, 510 ILCS 70/3
**Model Law**

Yes

Neglect of Owner's Duties: Fine up to $1500, imprisonment up to 6 months
Cruel Treatment: Fine up to $2500, imprisonment under 1 year.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine up to $25,000, imprisonment from 1-3 years, 1 year probation.
Animal Torture: Fine up to $25,000, imprisonment from 2-5 years, 1 year probation.

Indiana, Code 35-46-3-13

Yes

Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 1 year.

Iowa, Code 717B.1 et seq.

Yes

Abuse: Fine of $500 to $5000, imprisonment up to 2 years.
Neglect: Fine of $50 to $500, imprisonment up to 30 days.
Torture: Fine of $500 to $5000, imprisonment up to 2 years and psychological treatment.

Kansas, Stat. Ann. 21-4310 et seq.

No

Fine up to $2500, imprisonment up to 1 year.

Kentucky, REV. Stat. Ann 525.130 & 135

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $500, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Torture: Fine up to $500, imprisonment up to 1 year.

Louisiana, Rev. Stat. Ann. 14.102

Yes (defined in statute)

Simple Cruelty: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 6 months.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine of $5000 to $25,000, imprisonment of 1-10 years.

Maine, Code Ann. Title 17 1031

Yes (defined in statute

Cruelty: Fine of $500 to $2500, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine of $1000 to $10,000, imprisonment up to 5 years.

Maryland, Criminal Code, Title 10, Subtitle 6, 10-601 et seq.

Yes

Cruelty or Neglect: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 90 days.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 3 years.

Massachusetts, Gen Laws Ch. 272-77 & Gen Laws Ch. 266-112

Yes (defined in statute)

Cruelty: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 90 days.
Malicious Killing: Imprisonment up to 5 years or fine up to $1000 and imprisonment up to 1 year.

Michigan, Penal Code 750.50

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 93 days, up to 200 hours community service.
Malicious Cruelty: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 4 years, up to 500 hours community service.

Minnesota, Stat. 343.20 et seq.

Yes (defined in statute)

Cruelty: Fine up to 700, imprisonment up to 90 days.
Intentional Cruelty (substantial bodily harm): Fine up to $3000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Intentional Cruelty (death or great bodily harm): Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 2 years; If done to intimidate another person: Fine up to $10,000, imprisonment up to 4 years.

Mississippi, Code Ann 97-41-1 et seq.

No

Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 6 months.

Missouri, Rev. Stat. 578.005 et seq.

Yes

Neglect: Fine up to $500, imprisonment up to 15 days.
Abuse: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Abuse includes Torture/Mutilation: Fine up to $500, imprisonment up to 5 years.

Montana, Code Annotated 45-8-211

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine up to $2500, imprisonment up to 2 years.

Nebraska, Rev Stat. 28-1008 et seq.

Yes

Cruelty, Abandonment or Neglect: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Cruelty Involving Torture, Repeated Beating or Mutilation: Fine up to $10,000, imprisonment up to 5 years.

Nevada, Rev. Stat. 574.050 et seq.

Yes

Fine of $200-$1000, imprisonment from 2 days to 6 months, community service from 48-120 hours.

New Hampshire, Rev. Stat. Ann. 644:8

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $2000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
"Beats, Cruelly Whips, Tortures or Mutilates: Fine up to $7000, imprisonment up to 7 years.

New Jersey, Rev. Stat. Ann. 4:22-17 & 4:22-26

Yes

Cruelty: Fine of $250-$1000, imprisonment up to 6 months.
Aggravated Cruelty:  Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 18 months.
If the animal dies, or subsequent convictions: Fine up to $15,000 and/or imprisonment of 3-5 years.

New Mexico, Stat. Ann. 30-18-1

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Extreme Cruelty: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 18 months.

New York, Article 26, Chapter 353 & 353-a

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 5 years.

North Carolina, Gen Stat 14-360 et seq.

Yes

Discretion of the court.

North Dakota, Century Code 36-21-1-01 et seq.

No

Fine up to $2000, imprisonment up to 1 year.

Ohio, Rev. Code Ann 959.01

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $750, imprisonment up to 90 days.
Cruelty to companion animals: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 90 days.

Oklahoma, State Title 21: 1685 et seq.

Yes

Abandonment: Fine from $100-$500, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Cruelty: Fine up to o $5000, imprisonment in county jail up to 1 year or in state penitentiary up to 5 years.

Oregon, Rev. Stat. 167.310 et seq.
**Model Law**

Yes

Abuse: Fine up to $2000, imprisonment up to 6 months.
Abuse in the First Degree: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Aggravated Abuse:  Fine up to $100,000, imprisonment up to 5 years.

Pennsylvania, 18 PA Cons. Stat. 5511

Yes

Cruelty: Fine of $50-$75, imprisonment up to 90 days.
Kill, Maim or Disfigure Domestic Animal: Fine of not less than $500.
Kill, maim, mutilate, torture or disfigure any dog or cat: Fine not less than $1000, imprisonment up to 2 years.

Rhode Island, Gen Stat. 4-1-1 et. seq.

Yes (defined in statute)

Unnecessary Cruelty: Fine of $50-$500, imprisonment up to 11 months.
Malicious Injury To Or Killing: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 2 years, liable for triple damages in civil court, 10 hours community service.

South Carolina, Code Ann. 47-1-10 et seq.

Yes

Cruelty: Fine of $100-$500, imprisonment up to 60 days.
Torture, Mutilates or Cruelly Kills: Fine of $5000 AND imprisonment of 180 days to 5 years.

South Dakota, Codified Laws 40-1-1 et seq.

No

Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 1 year.

Tennessee, Code Ann 39-14-202; 39-14-212

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $2500, imprisonment from 11 months, 29 days to 30 years.
Second or subsequent conviction OR Aggravated Cruelty

: Fine up to $3000, imprisonment up to 6 years.

Texas, Penal Code, Title 9, Chapter 42, 42.09

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $4000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Torture, Kill, Fighting, etc.: Fine up to $10,000, imprisonment from 180 days to 2 years.

Utah, Code Ann. 76-9-301

No

Cruelty: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 6 months.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine up to $2500, imprisonment up to 1 year.

Vermont, St. Ann. Title 13, Chapter 8, 351 et seq.

Yes (defined in statute)

Cruelty: Fine up to $2000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 3 years.

Virginia, Code Ann. 3.1-796.122

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $2500, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Tortures, etc.: Fine up to $2500 (Felony).

Washington, Rev. Code 16.52.011 et. seq.

Yes

Cruelty in the Second Degree: Fine up to $1000, imprisonment up to 90 days.
Cruelty in the First Degree: Fine up to $10,000, imprisonment up to 5 years.

West Virginia, Code 61-8-19

Yes

Cruelty: Fine of $300-$1000, imprisonment up to 6 months.
Torture: Fine of $1000-$5000, imprisonment of 1-3 years.

Wisconsin, Stat. 951.02 et. seq.

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $10,000, imprisonment up to 6 months.
Mutilation or Death: Fine up to $10,000, imprisonment up to 2 years.

Wyoming, Stat. 6-3-203

Yes

Cruelty: Fine up to $750, imprisonment up to 6 months.
Aggravated Cruelty: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 1 year.
Felony Cruelty: Fine up to $5000, imprisonment up to 2 years.

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Animal Cruelty Law Summaries, Alabama-Montana
Animal Cruelty Law Summaries, Nebraska-Wyoming
Animal Cruelty State by State PDF