A lot of people have been witnessing animal cruelty every day. Studies show that there are approximately 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats that are owned by the citizens of the United States, in which an average of 10 million cats and dogs are assaulted every year.

Most of the times, people are not aware that some cases are already considered mistreatment on animals, and even do not know that these incidents are against the law and can place one behind bars. To understand further, here is a piece of brief but significant information about animal cruelty.

What is animal cruelty?

Animal cruelty typically includes animal mistreatment and negligence in taking care of animals. Improper feeding of an animal, abandoning an animal inside a car or a house while depriving them with food and water, and animal hoarding are some examples of it.

Animal hoarding happens when a person or group of people will domesticate a higher-than-usual number of animals without adequately taking care of them. Others claimed that this caused by a mental disorder, rather than deliberate animal cruelty.

Moreover, mistreatment of animals also occurs when one will use a live animal as a lure or bait in an animal race, join or watch an event where dogs are fighting over or indulge to bestiality, also referred as having sexual intercourse with animals.

Overworking, poisoning, hurting or beating, injuring and killing animals are the other examples of mistreatment of animals. Mistreating animals also includes confining and transporting them in an inhumane way that is not good for the animals’ welfare.

Two Categories: Neglect & Intentional Cruelty

In most states, animal cruelty is divided into two categories. First is negligence. This category is the state of failing to provide an animal’s basic needs, which include food, water, shelter, and veterinary care.

Negligence is believed by many as the result of an animal owner’s ignorance. This can be solved easily by requiring the owner to make a quick change on his or her way of taking care of the animals; otherwise, the law enforcement authorities will take away his or her animals.

Second is intentional cruelty. This category is the state of purpose inflicting physical harming, maiming, torturing and killing animals. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) claimed that people who commit this crime has a serious human behavior issue.  

Nevertheless, people who committed animal intentional cruelty are not prosecuted to the full extent of the law regardless of how heinous their crimes are. In most states, this crime is regarded as a misdemeanor that has at most 1000 USD fine and only one year of imprisonment.

Legal Punishments

The legal punishments for animal cruelty depend on different states. The district of Columbia and 33 states are currently having laws that regard intentional cruelty as a felony charge. The other remaining states are still considering animal cruelty as a misdemeanor.

However, in general, if one will neglect his or her duties in taking care of his or her pet including the pet’s sustenance for food, shelter, and veterinary care, a person may have a fine worth of 50-750 USD with or may without imprisonment for up to 90 days or more.

Second-degree Misdemeanor

A person will receive a second-degree misdemeanor charge if he or she annoys, harasses, attempts to injure, gives or exposes poison, hurt, kills or molests animals owned by other people. This case is punishable by the law with a fine of 500 USD or more.

First-degree Misdemeanor

A person will receive a first-degree misdemeanor charge if he or she will kill poison, mutilate, injure, torture, disfigure and execute his or her pets.  This case is punishable by the law with a fine of 500-1000 USD without or with imprisonment for up to two (2) years.

Third-degree Felony

A person will receive a third-degree felony charge if a person will poison, disfigure and kill animals from the zoo, regardless of being captured or not. This case is punishable by the law with the fine worth up to 15, 000 USD without or with imprisonment for up to seven (7) years.

Also, a person who will make a subsequent conviction will also receive a third-degree felony charge with a fine up to 15, 000 USD without or with imprisonment that may run up to seven (7) years. At this point, it is best to contact a criminal lawyer for some legal advice.


Taking care of animals are similar to taking care of your children. One should not only be responsible for providing food and shelter to the animals, but also on sustaining preventive medical care and yearly veterinary check-ups. It should be better to know your responsibilities, or else you will end up staying in jail.