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Top Prosecuted Animal-related Crimes

Animal cruelty is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and these crimes can include felony charges.

Although the exact number of incidents will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, according to Animal Legal Defense Fund, the most commonly prosecuted crimes are:


Animal neglect is the failure to provide basic care required for an animal to thrive. Such cases may seem less egregious than a single, brutal act of violent abuse, but severe neglect can mean extended periods of extreme suffering resulting in permanent injury or death. A single large-scale neglect case can affect hundreds of animals, as in cases of hoarding, puppy mills, and livestock neglect. This offense is most commonly related to dog and cat care, but closely followed by horse care. By definition, these crimes are aggravated in that the offenders occupy a position of trust as the victim animal’s owner or caretaker.

Affirmative Acts of Abuse

Animal cruelty of this nature is intentionally carried out to injure or kill an animal. Unlike neglect, any person—whether or not they own the animal—can commit these crimes. Often these cases garner a great deal of media attention due to the shocking behavior involved. Affirmative acts of abuse include every conceivable cruel act: from lighting animals on fire to using power tools to torture and kill animals. Affirmative acts of abuse also include cases of domestic violence where abusing animals is part of the offender’s system of maintaining power and control over the human victim.

Animal Fighting

Animal fighting is a contest in which people cause two animals to fight for the purpose of human entertainment. In some instances, typically during training prior to an organized fight, docile animals are used as bait to cement the bloodlust in the animal being prepared to fight. The most common forms of animal fighting in the United States are dogfighting and cockfighting. Animal fighting is regularly accompanied by other crimes, including gambling, money laundering, weapons offenses, and conspiracy. As a result, many states are amending their organized crime laws (racketeering) to include animal fighting as a predicate offense.


This crime is committed when an animal is deliberately cast off by its owner. There has been a significant spike in these cases due to owners leaving their pets behind in home foreclosure cases.


Taboo as a subject to be sure, sexual crimes against animals are not exceptional, isolated incidents. The case facts run a wide range – from individual animals assaulted by their owners in their homes, to organized bestiality events held at clandestine, often rural locations. The ugly reality is that bestiality is not yet expressly illegal in all 50 states.

June 26, 2020

Bestiality Criminal Defense Lawyer   If you think that you have a case against someone, you may find that some of the bestiality and criminal cases can get rather complex and difficult to navigate. While most of us are familiar with the basic difference between the two, this concept may not be so clear to […]

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June 26, 2020
Cruelty to animals

Criminal Defense Lawyer for Cruelty to Animals Charges Many people are aware of animal cruelty to animals, but have a difficult time comprehending the concept of cruelty to animals. Often, people are caught off guard by the severity of the crime. However, there are several elements to be aware of when defending against animal cruelty […]

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June 26, 2020
Wildlife smuggling
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