Animal Abuse a Felony in All 50 States

Animal AbuseAnimal abuse is the single most disturbing part of society. Statistics show how this kind of violence is detrimental to the well-being of society as a whole. Psychologists have long linked those who abuse animals with deeper more sinister crimes. Kids who start abusing defenseless animals usually progress into more aggressive crimes. Social services, health professionals, and educators use such behavior to diagnose kids with antisocial personalities. The FBI criminalists look for backgrounds of animal abuse when profiling serial murderers. More than 80 percent of children rescued from abuse also detailed a history of their abusers active violence against animals. In a 1997 study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northeastern University, 70 percent of animal abusers were also responsible for other crimes, 40 percent were of violent nature. Law punishing those who injure an animal have not kept up with the violent nature of the crime. However, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has joined the rest of America by enacting a bill that will make all animal abuse in the state a felony. Now all 50 states label such crimes of abuse against animals as a major crime.

Animal rights activists have been fighting for this small step for decades. Tens of thousands of animals are abused nationwide annually, and these are only cases that have been reported. Of the 37 thousand cases of abuse in 2010, less than 17 thousand survived. Many of those animals have life long injuries that have changed their world forever. These statistics don’t incorporate all of the cases of hoarding and abandonment, most of these numbers are of a far more violent nature. One of the most famous cases of animal abuse was the Michael Vic dog fighting ring. Social media blasted him for a short time after it was discovered that he hung dogs from trees by their throats, beat dogs within an inch of their lives, and buried hundred of dogs he killed, some still alive, in his own back yard. The punishment he received was so minimal that he is back to playing professional football, making millions of dollars, and starting a clothing line for all to enjoy. The idea that the entire United States justice system now recognizes the importance of classifying animal abuse as a felony is a very small step in balancing the crime with the punishment.

Society as a whole has yet to embrace the importance of criminalizing animal abuse. The more mental health professionals learn about what makes up the mentality and personality of an animal abuser, the more important it is that to know who is capable of such monstrosities. Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “The single most dangerous thing you can do to a child is know they tortured or killed an animal and let them get away with it.” Some health professionals feel that if you can catch an animal abuser before their crimes escalate there could be hope for saving them from a life behind bars. Animal abusers don’t just become thieves or bullies, but in many reported cases they go on to become rapists, child abusers, and murders. Sadly, many Americans have known an animal abuser and stayed silent.

The Human Society of the United States created the First Strike campaign aimed at stopping violent animal abusers. And the Lantham Foundation offers services to parents and educators to break the cycle of violence against animals. It is detrimental to a society that has become numb to violence all around. Turning a blind eye to animal abuse isn’t “staying out of other people’s business,” keeping silence on such abuse is risking the protection of the community from future violence. Making animal abuse a felony in all 50 states is a nationwide advancement in making the world a better place.

Opinion by Kimberly Beller

The Dodo
Animal Legal Defense
Pet Abuse

15 Responses to "Animal Abuse a Felony in All 50 States"

  1. Kate   December 17, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    @ KMcGowan. It is not automatically a felony in all states. The following applies to PA.

    Pennsylvania Animal Cruelty Laws

    (2.1) (i) A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he willfully and maliciously:

    (A) Kills, maims, mutilates, tortures or disfigures any dog or cat, whether belonging to himself or otherwise. If a person kills, maims, mutilates, tortures or disfigures a dog guide for an individual who is blind, a hearing dog for an individual who is deaf or audibly impaired or a service dog for an individual who is physically limited, whether belonging to the individual or otherwise, that person, in addition to any other applicable penalty, shall be required to make reparations for veterinary costs in treating the dog and, if necessary, the cost of obtaining and training a replacement dog.
    (ii) Any person convicted of violating the provisions of this paragraph shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $1,000 or to imprisonment for not more than two years, or both. The court may also order a presentence mental evaluation. A subsequent conviction under this paragraph shall be a felony of the third degree. This paragraph shall apply to dogs and cats only.

  2. siouxsaysJennifer   July 4, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Animal abuse is most certainly NOT a felony in all 50 states. Good job on the false and misleading “news” article. Is this an attempt at legit front for The Enquirer?

    • KMcGowan   September 28, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Yes, it is a felony in all 50 states. If you have proof otherwise, post it.

  3. Susan   August 27, 2014 at 11:56 am

    It is not a “first offense” felony, like capital murder is a felony. Check in your particular state. In VA, upon the THIRD CONVICTION (not arrest) of animal cruelty it is deemed a felony.

  4. Jody   August 2, 2014 at 9:57 am

    if this were true, how come it isn’t all over every news channel, in every news paper and printed everywhere? there is a “provision” its NOT a “law”.

  5. kelli rogers   July 9, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    All 50 States Now Have Felony Animal Cruelty Provisions!
    Posted by Chris Berry, ALDF Litigation Fellow on March 14, 2014

    On March 14, 2014, South Dakota became the final state to enact a felony provision for animal cruelty. That’s the REAL law in the U.S.A.

  6. Marina   April 1, 2014 at 4:57 am

    Tierquälerei sollte mit der Todesstrafe bestraft werden.In Deutschland wird es immer mehr bestraft und das ist auch richtig,denn wenn man Kinder missbraucht kommt man auch in den Knast.Tiere sind wie Kinder.Ich habe drei Hunde und werde noch einen holen denn Hunde sind die besseren Menschen

  7. Vera   March 31, 2014 at 9:58 am

    And while you consider animal abuse to be a felony, you allow it to happen everyday in the food industry. Why are some punished and the others praised for doing a job nobody else wants???

  8. animalandpeoplelover   March 31, 2014 at 9:30 am

    >Animal abuse is the single most disturbing part of society.<
    NOT TRUE. Human abuse (women and children mainly) are the most disturbing parts of our society. This is a flagrant animal rights anti-societal statement.

    The vast majority of people like or even love animals and care well for them. To say less is to be spreading "propaganda mill" BIG LIES. Of the MILLIONS of animals that are pets in homes, only a tiny percentage are neglected or abused. **Reducing that percentage is a noble and worthy goal, but it is downright LYING to give the impression that it is more than a small percentage.**

    "If it bleeds, it leads" is a common description of newsworthy articles, so the number of articles that are negative will dominate the news. That does NOT mean that a majority of life experiences will fall within those negative situations. Same thing with animal interactions, although the "animal rights" sociopathic propaganda tries to convince the public otherwise. WAKE UP, people. The animal rights movement is trying to hijack the animal welfare concerns that most people have.

    • Vera   March 31, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Ok, right, but right now we are not talking about human abuse. Why can´t you leave it alone when we start talking about animal abuse, as if anyone would forget human abuse….

      • animalandpeoplelover   March 31, 2014 at 1:49 pm

        >>Animal abuse is the single most disturbing part of society.<
        This statement is about society, which is HUMANS. It also is FALSE. Therefore, the comment was relevant. In case you hadn't noticed, the animal rights movement vilifies humans and *uses* animals to *punish humans* for using animals. Insanity at its scariest.

    • Kimberly Beller   March 31, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      AnimalandPeoplelover – I really think you need to reread the article because you really missed something! Abuse of women and children usually start with kids that are animal abusers. If you can catch them when they’re young then you may be able to stop the progression of aggressive behavior. That is a large part of this article. A HUGE percentage of human abusers were animal abusers FIRST. I’m not against people, but I am against letting people get away with violence.

  9. Terry Ceballos   March 31, 2014 at 9:10 am

    A friend of mine who is keeping up with this says this is not so. “..Animal Abuse is NOT a felony in All 50 states!!! In most states it is a misdemeanor offence, or like my state, it may be a felony, but only after being charged with abuse 3x”

  10. jenn   March 30, 2014 at 7:11 am

    In Ohio, I think it is only a felony for kennel owners…not everyone (Nitro’s bill).This is misleading. We have to keep working for laws that will make it a felony for anyone charged with animal abuse.

  11. viking   March 30, 2014 at 6:07 am

    rape and life threatening beatings are a certainty in american prisons no crime not worthy of those punishments warrants jail possible sentence laws least of all involving animals yes i love my animals there are other ways to combat animal cruelty


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