Animal Cruelty

Cruelty to animals can take many forms, from neglecting or abandoning an animal, to inflicting physical injury or failing to provide needed medical attention. Arizona laws contain specific definitions of these offenses under A.R.S. § 13-2910. Many of these offenses are felony crimes punishable by up to two years in jail.

What kinds of animals are protected? The law defines “animal” as a mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian. There are also special provisions against harming or injuring certain farm animals, as well as animals that are specially trained to provide service to law enforcement agencies or assist someone with daily living needs.

The link between Animal Cruelty and other crimes

Investigations and research reveal a strong link between violence towards animals and violence towards humans. With a documented connection to serious crimes such as: drug offenses, gang activity, weapons violations, sexual assault and domestic violence, animal cruelty is not something to ignore. One study found that animals are abused in 88 percent of the families in which children have been abused. Studies also show:

  • Animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people.
  • Animal abusers are four times more likely to commit property crimes.
  • Animal abusers are three times more likely to have drug or disorderly conduct offenses.

Warning Signs of Animal Cruelty

Wondering if an animal in your neighborhood is the victim of animal cruelty? Animal cruelty warning signs include:

  • Sores, cuts, bruises or bleeding
  • Patches of missing fur
  • Thin, emaciated body
  • Limping or inability to walk
  • An owner beating or threatening an animal
  • Pets left in parked cars during hot weather
  • Dogs repeatedly left outside without food, water or shelter from extreme weather
  • Animal Fighting - Owning, training or causing an animal to fight another animal is a crime except if it falls within specific exemptions for lawful pursuits such as hunting, ranching or security services. It is also illegal to be present at a cockfight, dogfight or other exhibitions of animal fighting.
  • Hoarding - Animal hoarding, or keeping an excessive number of dogs or cats in a home or cramped, unsanitary conditions, may be punishable under animal cruelty laws and should be reported to law enforcement. Animal hoarding is frequently a symptom of mental illness.

Reporting Animal Cruelty

If you see signs of animal cruelty, report it immediately by calling your local police agency. For Phoenix and Scottsdale, you can also contact the Arizona Humane Society at 602-997-7585 Ext. 2073

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