TRAINING VIDEO DOWNLOADS:
View the law enforcement training video: ROADSIDE ANIMALS: DEALING WITH SAFETY & FRAUD ISSUES IN PUBLIC ANIMAL SALES, produced by the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and the Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona.
WHAT TO CHECK WHEN ANSWERING A ROADSIDE ANIMAL SALE CALL:
Where are the animals being sold? There may be slight differences between jurisdictions as to where a person can and cannot sell animals. As a general rule of thumb, however, public areas such as roadways, medians, sidewalks, public parks, right-of-ways, etc. are prohibited areas. Other ordinances may prohibit sales at swap meets, flea markets, etc. Check your local ordinances.
What species are the animals? State law defines an animal as ANY mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian. As such, it is illegal to sell any such animal, regardless of size or breed. Fish and insects are not legally considered animals and therefore do not fall under the law.
Does the seller know what kind of animals they are selling? Can the seller tell you the species and breed of the animals? Do they know what standard of care is required for their animals? Since many roadside sales often involve stolen animals, the seller’s knowledge (or lack thereof) about the animals may indicate if they are the lawful owners.
Does the seller know who the legal owner(s) of the animals are? If the vendor claims to be selling the animals for a friend or family member, can they tell you who that person is and provide contact information? Do they possess expected proof of ownership for the animal, such as licensing information for dogs or veterinary records?
How old are the animals? Animals such as puppies and kittens are often sold before they are properly weaned, which is dangerous to them. As a standard rule, puppies and kittens should be at least eight weeks old before they are removed from the care of their mother.
Do the animals appear healthy? The most common complaint against roadside vendors is that the animals are sick or dying. These problems are usually only discovered in the days after the purchase is finalized, leaving the buyer with no recourse. Can the seller provide a medical history on their animals?
How is the animal housed / contained? Check to see if the animals are properly housed or caged. Often, roadside sellers are fixated on making a sale, not on properly or humanely caring for the animals. Officers should also check the enclosure to make sure food and water are provided; and that bodily wastes are being appropriately removed.
Are the animals safe from heat, sun exposure and other dangerous conditions? In southern Arizona, the biggest threat to animals being sold on the roadside is heat and sun exposure. All animal ordinances require proper ventilation, protection from the elements, protection from dangerous situations (like animals being allowed to wander in roadways) medical care, etc. If the seller is not adhering to these standards, it is incumbent on the officer to rectify the situation.
Typical signs for a sick cat or dog include:
• Wet or “weeping” eyes
• Mucus build-up around the animal’s eyes and nose.
• Lethargy, excessive sleep or lack of energy.
• Presence of vomit or diarrhea, especially if there appears to be blood in either.
• The animal displays an inability to stand or walk. The animal seems wobbly, almost as though he is “drunk.”
• The animal’s ribs, hip bones and spine are easily seen and felt.
• Difficulty breathing, gasping for air, heavy panting beyond what would seem normal (drooling).
IF THE RESPONDING OFFICER BELIEVES THAT THE ANIMAL’S WELFARE IS IN JEOPARDY, HE/SHE MUST TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO ASSIST THE ANIMALS. CONTACT YOUR ANIMAL CONTROL AUTHORITIES TO ASSIST IF AN IMPOUNDMENT IS NEEDED!
If cruelty or neglect issues are present, officers may arrest as needed using local ordinances or ARS 13-2910.
Suggestions for selling animals legally: The animal owner may sell the animals through newspaper ads, auctions, fairs, 4-H events, pet stores, Internet websites or from their private residence. They may sell off of private property, BUT ONLY IF THEY HAVE THE PERMISSION OF THE LEGAL OWNER. If the seller is vending from a parking lot in a strip mall, for example, check to see if he has the permission of the owner or property manager to sell in that area.
Since many roadside animal vendors are attempting to rid themselves of unwanted litters or puppies and kittens, suggest that they seek out low-cost spay and neuter services as an alternative. These services are available through the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and many local veterinarians.
See the Animal Cruelty Taskforce handout: ROADSIDE ANIMAL SALES LAWS
Contact the Animal Cruelty Investigator with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona at (520) 321-3704, Ext. 121.
Consult with your local prosecutor or county attorney.