Cruelty to Animals Law & Legal Definition


State and local laws, which vary by area, make cruelty to animals a crime. A person commits the crime of cruelty to animals if, except as otherwise authorized by law, he intentionally or recklessly:

  1. Subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment; or
  2. Subjects any animal in his custody to cruel neglect; or
  3. Kills or injures without good cause any animal belonging to another.

There are groups which lobby for animal rights laws, such as the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Legal Defense Fund and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Use of animals for testing in laboratories has recently become a controversial issue, but companies may voluntary choose to not follow this practice. If you are aware of a case of animal cruelty, you can contact any of the following:

  1. Local law enforcement officials
  2. The city/county Health Department or Board of Health
  3. Local politicians 
  4. Your local SPCA or humane society
  5. If none of the above prove helpful, try contacting local media organizations