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5 Animal L. 69 (1999)
State Animal Anti-Cruelty Statutes: An Overview

handle is hein.journals/anim5 and id is 81 raw text is: STATE ANIMAL ANTI-CRUELTY STATUTES: AN OVERVIEW
This article provides an introduction to the current status of state animal
anti-cruelty laws throughout the United States. Extensive exploration of the
similarities and differences between these statutes, combined with detailed
statutory citations, enables this article to serve as a useful resource for re-
search and statistical purposes. Additionally, the article offers an opportu-
nity to review many of the provisions contained within these anti-cruelty
statutes and to identify those in need of improvement.
Every state has an animal anti-cruelty statute. Although these laws do
not afford animals legal rights, state anti-cruelty statutes provide the prin-
cipal, and in some cases the only, legal protection available to animals in
our society. Most anti-cruelty laws are misdemeanor offenses, although
twenty-three states have at least one form of a felony anti-cruelty law.2
Unfortunately, no national database currently exists to provide a statisti-
cal analysis of how many animal cruelty cases are criminally charged and
prosecuted each year. There is anecdotal evidence, however, to indicate
* Attorney and Director of the Anti-Cruelty Division of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Ms. Frasch also teaches Animal Law at Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark
** Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College, J.D. expected 2000; San Diego
State University, BA. 1994. Mr. Otto is on staff at the Animal Legal Defense Fund in the Anti-
Cruelty Division.
'I University of Minnesota Law School, J.D. expected 2000. Ms. Olsen helped prepare
this article while she was a law clerk at the Humane Society of the United States, in Wash-
ington, D.C.
t Senior Legal Analyst, Lexis Law Publishing, Charlottesville, Virginia
1 This overview includes information on general state animal cruelty law as of April 1,
1999. Each state may have other more specific statutes in addition to those referenced
within this overview. Additionally, be advised that many states employ similar provisions
within their general criminal and civil statutes. Because the law is constantly evolving,
please review an official source for the most current version of any statute.
2 Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachu-
setts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont Virginia, Wisconsin, and

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