Sentences are much harsher than they used to be for animal cruelty. The importance of protecting animals has increased with awareness, lawsuits and web campaigns. Good Samaritans usually report animal rights issues before they get out of hand. If you’re unsure about what’s considered cruelty, read below or visit lawalways for more information.

4. Abandonment Counts As Cruelty

Abandonment is a serious hot button issue due to its interpretation. Leaving a dog or cat in a car for a short period of time is not illegal. When you add in extreme conditions like heat or cold, then a preventable death becomes a federal crime. There are really no set rules for how this is handled, so abandonment based on vehicles will be hit and miss in most states. That is why a lot of states combine weather and physical conditions when considering it a federal crime.

When you look at regular abandonment, the picture is a lot clearer. The days of leaving a dog in a basket on the doorstep are long gone, and is considered a clear case of abandonment. Things happen, and people become unable to care for animals. When that happens, you have to turn over the animal to the appropriate agency or a potential new owner. Kicking an animal out of a home with no place to go is abandonment, and will incur a steep fine.

3. Animal Fighting Is Bad News

The NFL made headlines a few years ago when one of its stars sponsored a dog fighting ring. Animal cruelty laws have been enacted specifically in certain states where dog fighting is rampant. Even cock fighting is illegal, and it is considered one of the oldest blood sports in the world. Whether you own the animal or not, participating in cock fighting in any way is animal cruelty. Betting on the fight makes you an accomplice to illegal activities. Animal fighting of any kind is frowned upon, and usually carries a hefty fine and jail time.

2. Not All Animals Are Protected

This is another gray area in the world of animal abuse federal crime. In short, certain laboratory tests use animals as subjects to improve their product. This is 100% legal, although the morality of the situation is up to the individual. Animal testing becomes a federal issue when the company doesn’t report its activities. There are limited protections that prevents a company from crossing ‘the line’. But in truth, a federal investigation into animal laboratory testing is more likely to develop from an agency inquiry rather than an individual inquiry.

1. Violators Forfeit All Ownership Rights

Ownership rights are pretty clear cut in all states. Animals are considered property with very little legal rights of their own. This changes when the animal is abused by the owner, and automatically forfeits all rights. The legal status (or language) of the way this is handled may seem dismissive, but is actually favorable to animals. States make it very difficult for owners to get new pets if they have a history of abusive behavior.

Wrap Up

Animal cruelty is no joke, and most states take it seriously. Although the language of the law varies from state to state, there is a general agreement that animals have rights. The treatment of animals is important, so make it a point to understand the laws surrounding them.