|Do you investigate animal welfare cases?|
The Department of Animal Services regularly receives and investigates a variety of reported cases affecting animal welfare. These range from accidental causes or negligence, to intentional wrongdoing such as dog fighting or cockfighting.
If you witness a situation that you believe may harm or jeopardize animal welfare, we urge you to contact our office and report what you have seen or heard. An Animal Services Representative will take your information and the report will be forwarded to a trained Animal Control Officer for investigation. It is vitally important that the Animal Control Officer have a way to contact you for specific details of the case. Depending on the nature of the situation, the officer may be able to keep your information confidential.
Is there a difference between animal neglect and animal abuse?
In general, animal cruelty includes every act, omission, or neglect whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused or permitted. Animal cruelty may be the result of the failure to provide some necessary item for an animal, such as food, water, shelter, or veterinary care, or it may be caused by an intentional act of inflicting something harmful or painful to an animal, such as beating, kicking, choking, etc. Both can be illegal acts punishable by imprisonment or fine.
Is the suspect in these acts always prosecuted?
This depends on the nature and circumstances of the conduct and the sufficiency of evidence available – an important reason to provide the officer with your contact information. In some cases, the investigator may determine the conduct was unintended or accidental and, if so, our officers work to educate the violator to prevent a future violation. However, when the circumstances warrant, an arrest and/or prosecution may occur.
What should I do if I see something happening?
Call us at (619) 236-4250. We will begin looking into your report as soon as possible. If the incident is an emergency, you can also call your local police or sheriff for assistance.
and is included on this page as a public service.
In addition, we have found the following information:
1. The Legal Definition of Animal Abuse / Animal Cruelty
The phrases "animal abuse" and "animal cruelty" cover a broad range of conduct...some that is obviously criminal in nature, some that is more obscure. Simply put, animal cruelty takes place whenever an animal is the victim of abuse or neglect.
Intentional abuse occurs when an animal is physically abused. Intentional neglect occurs when an animal is deprived of food, water, shelter, or veterinary services.
Although there are over 50 California laws that specifically deal with the mistreatment of animals, there is one primary law that regulates animal abuse / neglect -- Penal Code 597 PC.
Penal Code 597 PC prohibits
- maliciously, intentionally, or cruelly
- maiming (that is, disabling or disfiguring),
- torturing (that is, inflicting unnecessary and/or unjustifiable pain or suffering), or
- wounding a living animal,
- maliciously, intentionally, or cruelly killing an animal,
- depriving an animal of necessary food, drink, or shelter (or failing to protect an animal from severe weather conditions), and/or
- riding, driving, overworking, or otherwise using the animal when it is unfit for labor.2
And because law enforcement agencies aren't typically present to witness these types of violations, they encourage the public to report these crimes. Many animal rights' organizations, law enforcement agencies, and prosecution offices have on-line reporting pages and/or telephone hotlines that are available to the public.
Licensed veterinarians ("animal doctors") are also under obligation to report suspected incidents of animal abuse / neglect.3