Is Animal Cruelty a Crime in Arizona?

is animal cruelty a crimeHarming animals isn’t just morally corrupt, it’s also a crime in Arizona.

Such crimes are taken seriously and a recent legislative change introduced even harsher penalties for harming animals.

The Existing Laws

Until recently, the Arizona regulations defining and sanctioning animal cruelty weren’t the strictest ones out there.

According to A.R.S. 1302910, cruelty to animals is defined as intentionally, knowingly and recklessly:

  • Subjecting an animal under one’s care to neglect or cruelty
  • Failing to provide the necessary medical attention to domestic animals
  • Inflicting unnecessary physical harm to animals
  • Subjecting animals to cruel mistreatment
  • Killing somebody else’s animal without having the legal privilege or the consent of the owner
  • Interfering with, harming or killing a service animal
  • Leaving an animal unattended in a car or another vehicle, in the events when physical harm or even death could occur
  • Allowing one’s animal to harm or kill somebody else’s domestic animal

In all of these scenarios, animal cruelty is a Class 6 felony. A Class 6 felony in Arizona carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison. In many instances, however, these charges have been downgraded to a misdemeanor.

As a result, many people who were guilty of animal abuse and harm didn’t experience sufficient legal repercussions. All of this changed in the beginning of May, 2019.

Arizona Toughens Animal Cruelty Laws

On May 8, 2019, Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2671 into a law.

As the governor himself mentioned in a tweet, “animal cruelty is despicable — and Arizona will not tolerate it. Proud to sign #HB2671 to strengthen penalties for those who abuse domestic animals.”

This law introduces harsher penalties for the abuse, abandonment, torture and neglect of dogs, cats and all other kinds of domestic animals.

The legislative changes increase the scope of sanctions. Animal cruelty is now a Class 5 felony in Arizona. As such, it carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 18 months. Even in the event of the charge being downgraded, it still remains a felony and falls under the Class 6 category.

As per the new law, judges in Arizona can order counseling for the individuals found guilty of animal cruelty. This means that people will have to go through mandatory treatment, counselling and supervision whenever they harm animals.

The new law is expected to go into effect in August 2019. The efforts of Governor Ducey have received widespread praise from an array of organizations, including the Arizona Humane Society. According to a report by the Arizona Humane Society, animal abuse is a widespread problem. The society’s shelter takes in more than 7,400 animals each year that are believed to be subjected to cruel treatments.

Click on the following link to report animal abuse in Arizona.

Other Related Crimes in Arizona

Arizona defines several other types that also involve the mistreatment or cruel abuse of animals.

Being present at animal fights is illegal in the state. People who are knowingly present at such illegal events can be charged with Class 6 felony. The minimum presence in this instance is going to be three months.

Organizing animal fights is obviously a much serious crime. Individuals who force animals to engage in fighting with another animal for amusement or gain are guilty of a Class 5 felony.

As you can see, cruelty to animals can take many forms. Most of these are punishable under Arizona laws. Many animals are protected, including birds, reptiles and amphibians. In addition, Arizona has some special provisions against harming specific types of farm animals.

Every owner is responsible to take proper care of their animals and ensure the wellbeing of such creatures. Mistreatment will result in serious consequences, especially starting August 2019.

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