What Crimes are Associated with Animal Abuse in California?

April 05, 2022 by Alexandra Carter in California  Criminal Defense  
Thumbnail for: What Crimes are Associated with Animal Abuse in California?

What Crimes are Associated with Animal Abuse in California?

In California, Penal Code 597 PC makes animal abuse illegal, defined as the malicious killing, harming, maiming, or torture of a living animal. 597 PC is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.

The law protects the following:

  • Household pets
  • Companion animals
  • Stray animals
  • Wild animals
  • Farm animals

Some examples of animal abuse include:

  • Jack goes on vacation for one week and leaves his cats without any food or water.
  • Marla gets annoyed at her dog’s constant barking on a road trip and throws him out of the car window.
  • Paul considers his cats outdoor cats and makes them stay outside when the temperatures drop below freezing.

When is animal abuse considered a crime in California?

To charge someone with animal abuse or a related crime, the prosecutor has the burden to prove:

  • The defendant maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, hurt, or killed, and living animal as a result of malicious acts.

Torture is defined as an act, failure to act, or neglect that directly leads to physical pain and/or suffering.

Maiming refers to the disablement or disfigurement of an animal by permanently depriving it of an organ, limb, or other body part.

In order to be convicted of acting maliciously, the defendant must have intentionally committed a wrongful act.

What other crimes are associated with animal abuse in California?

The Golden State has laws against the following:

Cockfighting (Penal Code 597b PC)

Cockfighting refers to the fighting or injuring of roosters. You are forbidden from fighting roosters for amusement and/or financial gain in California.

Dogfighting (Penal Code 597.5)

You can be convicted of dogfighting if you:

  • Own or train a dog with the explicit intent to have it fight other dogs.
  • Cause a dog to hurt or kill another dog in a pre-planned dogfight.
  • Attend a dogfight as a spectator.

Leaving an animal in an unattended vehicle (Penal Code 597.7)

It’s a crime to:

  • Leave a pet in an unattended vehicle.
  • Leave a pet in an unattended vehicle during extremely hot or cold conditions that could endanger their health and well-being.

Transporting animals in cruel or inhumane ways (Penal Code 597a)

It’s a misdemeanor for anyone in California to transport domestic animals in a vehicle in a way that is considered:

  • Cruel, or
  • While knowing allowing the animal to be subjected to unnecessary cruelty

Sexual abuse of animals (Penal Code 286.5)

It is illegal to sexually assault animals in California, which is also referred to as bestiality or zoophilia.

Poisoning animals (Penal Code 596)

In California, it is a misdemeanor to:

  • Poison someone’s animal
  • Poison someone’s animal intentionally

However, it is not considered a crime to use poison in order to control animals that are predatory.

Unlawful tethering of a dog (Health and Safety Code 122335)

You cannot tether dogs to stationary objects, such as trees, light posts, or anything else in California.

What federal laws concern animal abuse?

Four main federal laws pertain to animal abuse:

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA)

This law applies to animals that are:

  • Housed in zoos
  • Used for lab testing
  • Used in commercial breeding

Under the act, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets minimum standards for the handling, care, treatment, and transportation of the above-mentioned animals.

AWA also makes dogfighting and cockfighting operations that cross state lines a federal crime.

The 28-hour law

According to the 28-hour law, vehicles transporting certain classes of animals must stop every 28 hours and provide exercise, food, and water to the animals. Turkeys and chickens, and other birds, are exempt from the law.

The Humane Slaughter Act

Under The Humane Slaughter Act, no animal shall be stunned into unconsciousness before it is slaughtered. Most birds, such as turkeys and chickens, are exempt from this law.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT)

PACT applies to mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians and bans the intentional:

  • Burning
  • Drowning
  • Crushing
  • Impalement
  • Suffocation
  • Other serious harm

The law also bans so-called animal crush videos, which include photos, videos, and other digital recordings and images that depict animal cruelty.

We Can Help

If you’ve recently been arrested for an animal abuse charge, The Esfandi Law Group is here to help.

Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529

Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.

Contact Us:         
Esfandi Law Group QR Code
Esfandi Law Group
Lara S.
December 3, 2019
Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

Get a Free Consultation

    Free Consultation Form