Animal Cruelty

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The phrases "animal abuse" and "animal cruelty" cover a broad range of conduct...some that is obviously criminal in nature, some that is more obscure. Simply put, the crime of animal abuse takes place whenever an animal is the victim of cruel treatment or neglect.

Intentional abuse occurs when an animal is physically abused. Intentional neglect occurs when an animal is deprived of food, water, shelter, or veterinary services.

Although there are over 50 California laws that specifically deal with the mistreatment of animals, there is one primary law that regulates animal abuse / neglect -- Penal Code 597 PC.
Penal Code 597 PC prohibits:

  • maliciously, intentionally, or cruelly
    maiming (that is, disabling or disfiguring),
    torturing (that is, inflicting unnecessary and/or unjustifiable pain or suffering), or
    wounding a living animal,
    maliciously, intentionally, or cruelly killing an animal,
    depriving an animal of necessary food, drink, or shelter (or failing to protect an animal from severe weather conditions), and/or
    riding, driving, overworking, or otherwise using the animal when it is unfit for labor.
And because law enforcement agencies aren't typically present to witness these types of violations, they encourage the public to report instances of animal cruelty as defined by California Penal code 597. Many animal rights organizations, law enforcement agencies, and prosecution offices have on-line reporting pages and/or telephone hotlines that are available to the public.
  • Licensed veterinarians ("animal doctors") are also under obligation to report suspected incidents of California animal abuse or neglect.

In keeping with our mission to promote and protect the health, safety, and welfare of animals and people in our city, the City of Los Angeles created the Animal Cruelty REPORT CRUELTY, call the Animal Cruelty Task Force now (213) 486-0450 (24-hour notification hotline) or email at actf@lapd.lacity.orgTask Force (ACTF) to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty cases.