What Is Animal Cruelty?

What exactly is Animal Cruelty? In Arizona, Animal Cruelty is defined in ARS 13-2910. Summarized, this means that a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly subjects any animal, under the person’s custody or control, to cruel neglect or abandonment.

Animal Cruelty or Neglect is different than an animal being kept in an unkind manner. Examples of such are:

  • A dog lives outdoors only, even during the hot Arizona summers. He has access to shade, shelter, water and is fed daily. He is often seen laying out in the yard in the bright sunlight. A neighbor reports that the dog is not being cared for because, “he is always outside, never allowed in the house, always out in the sun, does not have any companionship.”

This is not an act of cruelty or neglect. The owner is providing all the necessary basics needed to comply with the law. Although it may not be an ideal situation for some, it does not mean that the owner is guilty of animal cruelty.

  • A thin dog is seen in a yard. He has hair loss and wounds all over his body. He is limping and looks like he may be in pain. There is no evidence of food or water. You have seen him for some time and he only looks to be getting worse.

This is a potential cruelty/neglect case. You should immediately contact your local Animal Control facility for a welfare check. If the animal requires immediate attention, please contact the authorities.

  • You live in a rural area. Most everyone has livestock and horses. You see a new horse in a field across the street. She is grazing, but you can see her ribs, hips, and she just looks skinny overall. You think to yourself, “This horse is being neglected! She is dying!” You do not see any persons around and think that someone has abandoned this poor creature. You immediately run over with a rope and try to catch it, however she is to quick for you. You look for any identifying marks and note that she has fairly new horseshoes on. It is unimaginable how anyone could leave this poor creature to die like this.

This could be neglect, however this could also be a case of mistaken perception. The horse is thin, however she is not dying. If she were in a  debilitating state, she would not be running from you. She also would likely not be wearing new horse shoes. This may simply be an owner who may have “rescued” this mare from a bad situation and is trying to rehabilitate her.

Always err on the side of caution and report any suspicious findings or activity to local animal control or livestock. If there is an animal in need of immediate assistance, contact your local authorities.

Written by M.K. 2015 ~ Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona