Welcome to the Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona

This website is designed to assist law enforcement, criminal justice and animal protection professionals in the identification and successful prosecution of crimes against animals. It also contains information which may be valuable to the public in helping to prevent animal cruelty and other forms of violence. If you need additional information, you are always welcome to contact our webmaster or our officers listed below.
Thank you for visiting!

To increase awareness of animal cruelty laws in southern Arizona.

To enhance and coordinate enforcement of animal cruelty laws.

To educate law enforcement, animal care professionals and other interested agencies in aspects of animal cruelty and the relationship of animal cruelty to other forms
of assaulting behavior.

New Legislation Helps Animals!

• Amendments to Arizona Revised Statutes will help animals who are victims of abuse or neglect. ARS 13-3601 now includes as crimes of domestic violence the commission of intentionally/knowingly cruel mistreatment and cruel neglect to animals, pursuant to ARS 13-2910 A (8) and (9). This means that individuals who are abusing their spouses, domestic partners, children, roommates, parents, etc. can now be charged with domestic violence if they include animals in the violence.

• Since animals are frequently silent victims in domestic violence situations, this is an important step toward ensuring that all DV vicitims are protected. In addition, ARS 13-3602 now permits a Court to include animals in Orders of Protection and order the abuser to stay away from the animal and forbid them from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, committing an act or cruelty or neglect in violation of Section 13-2910 or otherwise disposing of the animal. Click here to access this law.

• One final change to ARS 32-2239 will now require Veterinarians to report more quickly and provide more thorough records. Although vets have been mandated reports of suspected cruelty for many years, this change requires them to report their suspicions to law enforcement with forty-eight (48) hours instead of the previous thirty (30) days. Click here for more on this change.


The Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona [ACT] and its member agencies will be working hard in the coming weeks to raise awareness about the dangers of our summer heat on domesticated animals such as cats and dogs.

As with years past, ACT is issuing a warning about animals left in hot cars or on illegal tie-outs. This year, however, ACT is also encouraging the public to more actively report animals being sold on roadsides or abandoned in empty apartments, houses or in desert areas. Although the latter two issue are not specifically related to our high summer temperatures, both of these criminal activities increase during the summer months when residents relocate, go on vacation or are faced with unexpected litters produced by unaltered family pets.

State, county and city ordinances all prohibit the confinement of animals in vehicles when conditions exist that may threaten the animal’s life or well-being. Such conditions may include extremely hot temperatures like we are already experiencing in southern Arizona. Both natives and visitors will regularly make the mistake of leaving their animals to suffer under these dangerous conditions in public parking lots, at malls, movie theaters, supermarkets, etc.

Arizona Revised Statute 13-2910-A7 allows police and animal control officers to use reasonable means to remove the animal from the vehicle, including breaking out windows. Officers can take these steps and provide emergency medical care to the animal without the owner’s knowledge or consent. If the animal suffers any serious bodily damage or death, the owner could be arrested and charged with felony-level animal cruelty. Additional information.

Tie-outs are illegal in Pima County, the City of Tucson and most surrounding communities. Animals on tie-outs are under extreme risk during the summer heat. Often, dogs confined to ropes, tethers and chains have restricted access to shade, shelter, water and food. Some owners may increase the stress on the animal by applying heavy chains unsuitable for pets, or attaching a tether to a heavy object like cinder blocks, tires or weights. If left in the heat, animals living under these conditions are at extreme risk for illness or death. All animals are required to have access to appropriate shelter which will protect them from the elements, good ventilation and drinkable water under city, county and state laws.

ROADSIDE SALES: No animal (defined as a mammal, reptile, amphibian or bird) can be sold, given away or otherwise transferred in public areas such as on public street, roadway, right-of-way, sidewalk, park or swap meet in Pima County. In the city of Tucson, the law prohibits the sale or transfer of ownership of animals on or from any public street, roadway, right of way, sidewalk and park except as provided by the Tucson Code. Police, animal control and humane organizations see a marked increase in complaints about illegal animal vending during the hot summer months, when the animals may be confined to vehicles, boxes or cages; set on hot surfaces such as pavement or concrete; denied water; or exposed to direct sunlight for hours at a time. The summer months also mark the peak of puppy and kitten season, and many unwanted litters are disposed of in this manner. Additional information.

CRUEL ABANDONMENT: If an owner can no longer care for an animal, he/she has two legal options: surrender the animal to an animal shelter or re-home it with a responsible third party who is willing to assume the animal’s care. Unfortunately, cruel abandonment (when animals are dumped in desert areas, on roadside or left behind in empty residences) has increased dramatically over the last two years. Affected animals have included mostly dogs, cats and horses. ACT is encouraging the public to report cruelly abandoned animals to 911. Free educational posters on this topic, produced by ACT in cooperation with the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, are available by calling (520) 321-3704, Ext. 101 or 121, Monday through Friday.

REPORTING AND RESOURCES: Contact 911 for animal-related emergencies such as confinement to hot cars and other heat-related issues.

88-CRIME (520-882-7463) will also accept anonymous reports dealing with these issues, but it should be noted that emergencies should always go to 911 first.

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona offers additional useful services, including free information on summer and home safety for pets; and low-cost spay / neuter services to help solve the overpopulation problem. HSSA can be contacted at (520) 327-6088 or online at www.hssaz.org.


Despite internet claims, public reporting about specific cruelty issues is non-existent in Old Vail Road Connection (“Dogpatch”) issue.

Animal Cruelty Taskforce (ACT) coalition agencies are making a public request that individuals with first-hand knowledge of suspected animal cruelty issues in the Old Vail Road Connection area (sometimes referred to as “Dogpatch”) contact authorities and make official reports.

Public concern about the area was raised in late December after local animal rescue activists found a stray horse in the area and posted information and photos on the internet. Since then, there have been multiple postings on chatrooms, Facebook, Craigslist, etc. Many self-described “animal rescuers” claim to have proof of large-scale animal cruelty, including dog- and cock-fighting and ritualistic cruelty. To date, however, not a single criminal complaint has been filed with any law enforcement agency. ACT attempts to directly solicit this information from those posting to the internet have not been successful. Many of the posts are anonymous and provide dramatic claims but not the evidence needed for investigation.

As a result, ACT is making a public request that individuals with first-hand information of cruelty issues contact the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, the Tucson Police Department or the Pima Animal Care Center and file official reports. Animal cruelty detectives are in need of specific dates, locations, photographs and the names of “rescuers” who may have witnessed events or removed animals from the area.

Additionally, “animal rescuers” who have removed live animals from the property need to report these animals to the Pima Animal Care Center as is required by Tucson City ordinance. Since there has been no official reporting, investigators have not been able to assess which animals may have been illegally dumped, which are strays belonging to local residents, and which may be victims of cruelty requiring of investigation.
DOGPATCHNYWtourLaw enforcement also cautions members of the public who may have been approached by anyone soliciting money for animals rescued from “Dogpatch.” Because none of the allegedly rescued animals have been properly reported, investigators have no way to track which animals have been rescued and where they are currently located. As such, requests for monetary assistance may be fraudulent. Individuals who have been so approached should contact the Pima County Sheriff’s Department or the Tucson Police Department if they have concerns or knowledge about who is in possession of these “rescued” animals.

Individuals who may have additional information the Old Vail Road Connection dump sites can contact 88-CRIME (882-7463), an anonymous tip-line run by thePima County Attorney’s Office. Tipsters have three options for reporting information anonymously:

Talk: (520) 882-7463. (Collect calls accepted.)

Text: 274637, enter “Tip 259” plus text message

Type: www.88crime.org
DUMPINGfreeposter2010Tipsters need not identify themselves and no calls are recorded or traced. Tipsters should reference the “Old Vail Road Connection or Dogpatch dump site.” Any tipster who supplies information leading to the arrest and indictment in a criminal case may be eligible for up to $1000 in reward money. Information can also be left on the ACT automated reporting line at (520) 547-0260.

RECEIVE A FREE “ANIMALS ARE NOT GARBAGE” POSTER FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION, SCHOOL OR BUSINESS:These full-color posters measures 11 X 17 inches and are part of the Animal Cruelty Taskforce’s ongoing efforts to stop the cruel abandonment of animals in empty homes, along roadsides, in desert areas and similar locations. The posters are available in both English and Spanish. Interested parties may pick up their copy of the poster at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona’s Companions for Life Center, 3465 E. Kleindale Road, Tucson, during regular business hours of Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Please be aware that the Center is sometimes closed during these hours due to outreach or training purposes.) Sorry, we cannot mail or deliver these posters directly. Limit one of each poster per person please. Supplies are limited.

ACT thanks the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and the 88-CRIME program for their financial and logistical support of this important project!


The Animal Cruelty Taskforce, acting on recent changes in Arizona State law, is beginning a communitywide public education and enforcement effort to halt the sale of animals on the side of streets, in medians, public parks, parking lots and other prohibited areas. Although this behavior may seem harmless to many, law enforcement, animal control and humane organizations regularly receive complaints concerning issues dealing with misrepresentation or outright fraud on the part of the sellers, or express concern over the safety and health of the animals in question.

For more information, visit our ROADSIDE ANIMAL SALES page or LAWS page.

Looking to Adopt a Pet or Support an Animal Charity? Be Careful!


As more and more Americans become concerned with the welfare of animals, there are more options than ever for a potential pet owner to find that perfect companion. However, as with any major decision, it is the responsibility of the consumer to ensure that he or she makes the best possible decision before adopting or purchasing. The animal industry has it’s fair share of fraud, cruelty and other illegal activities. Thinking carefully, doing proper research and asking tough questions will help ensure that you don’t get taken advantage of by someone who claims to love animals, but may really have less-honorable intentions.

For more information, visit our BUYER BEWARE page.

From Victim to Victory…Our Success Stories!

As we enter the spring of 2009, the Animal Cruelty Taskforce celebrates another year of hard work helping protect the animals of southern Arizona. Nearing a milestone anniversary, ACT has spent almost a decade providing professional trainings to educate law enforcement and animal care professionals about aspects of animal cruelty and neglect, including the relationship between animal crimes to other forms of violence. Although individual ACT members have spent much of their careers successfully investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty and neglect cases, the passage of laws leading to the formation of ACT and resources provided by the taskforce provide strength to their efforts.

Unfortunately, not every animal cruelty case that falls into ACT’s hands has a happy ending. Whether the bad news comes in the form of not being able to save an animal’s life or watching a case go cold, either situation can be incredibly frustrating to anyone hoping to see justice served on behalf of an animal. Regardless of the outcome of criminal cases, ACT members continuously put forth their best efforts for every animal and celebrate the many successful moments. The following cases are a few of the highlights from this past year. Each of these animals received necessary medical care with the help of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona’s Second Chance Fund and all but one resulted in a successful prosecution!

Flor is a young Chihuahua mix that was taken to an emergency vet, unable to deliver her puppies. After her owner refused medical care and attempted to treat the dog on her own, Flor was seized by the Tucson Police Department and rushed to emergency care. Her puppies did not survive, but Flor was able to make a full recovery. Though she was brought to the attention of ACT in 2007, Flor’s case finally closed this fall when her owner was convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Flor’s amazing foster parents were then able to make her adoption official.

On Febuary 7th, 2008, Harrison, a Basset Hound, was taken to the emergency vet after an at-home surgery attempt by his owner to remove a grape-fruit sized tumor from his back caused excessive bleeding. The availability of medical funds allowed Harrison to receive the immediate medical care he needed and through the duration of his case. Harrison’s case was closed in just over six months; his owner was charged with animal cruelty and was sentenced to complete a diversion program and pay restitution for his medical care.

Bella is a very sweet one-year old Boxer suffering with Valley Fever whose case began June 2nd. She was so emaciated veterinarians did not believe she would survive. Bella was incredibly thin and weak, was unable to stand for very long and could not extend one of her rear legs. After great work by the Tucson Police Department detective and prosecutor assigned to her case, Bella’s owner plead guilty to animal cruelty charges. Bella is still growing stronger and has more than doubled her weight. She is well on her way to becoming a healthy and happy dog.

You may have seen Bobcat [right] on the ACT website or in the news this last summer, but in case you missed this wonderful dog’s story, Bobcat was found by workers at a construction site the morning of August 11th. HSSA staff and ACT members were able to respond to the workers’ call and found that the majority of Bobcat’s back was covered in open burns believed to be caused by prolonged exposure to the sun. Although no owner was identified, Bobcat’s injuries served as a reminder to southern Arizonans about the dangers of the desert sun and the impact it can have on our animals. Bobcat will likely have permanent scars as a reminder of his ordeal, but in less than two months of his rescue, his wounds had closed and he was given a second chance at life with a new family.

In order to lengthen this list of successful cases and prevent animal crimes from being committed in the first place, ACT has provided an impressive list of trainings and videos ranging in topics from evidence collection and addressing the link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence to more specific issues like animal sexual assault, identifying cruelty and neglect in less common animals kept as pets and understanding new animal-related laws. Seminars for the public, such as this year’s Animal Law for Laypeople and regularly held court-ordered Animal Cruelty Education classes for offenders, are also important to the ACT mission to ensure that southern Arizona pet owners are informed and caring for their animals responsibly.