5 Most Commonly Prosecuted Animal Cruelty Charges

By Joel Hancock

Animals are so beloved that many people not only have them as pets but also consider them a member of the family. Sadly, not everyone shares in this kindness towards animals. Despite being illegal (and potentially including felony charges) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, animal cruelty still occurs. Here are the 5 most commonly prosecuted animal cruelty charges according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

  1. Neglect

Housing an animal takes a lot of care. You must provide food, water, and a safe environment for the animal. Animal neglect occurs when someone fails to meet these basic needs. As with children, severe neglect can result in permanent injury or even death. Many times, we hear about animal neglect in cases of puppy mills in which hundreds of dogs are crammed into small spaces or cages and not given what they require to thrive. While mostly occurring with dogs, cats, and horses, neglect can occur with all types of animals. 

  1. Affirmative Acts of Abuse

Unlike animal neglect which is the failure to do/provide necessary things to allow the animal to thrive, affirmative acts of abuse include taking intentional actions for the purpose to injure or kill an animal. An individual does not need to own an animal to be guilty of an affirmative act of abuse. Sadly, these acts of abuse include everything from hitting the animal to setting it on fire. These instances are sometimes tied to domestic abuse situations in which the animals are used as part of the process to control the human victim. For instance, beating the family dog to scare and control a spouse into submission. 

  1. Animal Fighting

Animal fighting is one of the oldest (previously) accepted forms of animal abuse. It occurs when people force two animals to fight each other for their own human entertainment. Most of the time animal fighting includes gambling/betting on which animal will be victorious (i.e., kill the other one). It also often involves other crimes such as conspiracy, money laundering, and weapons offenses. While the most common form of animal fighting in the U.S. includes dogfighting and cockfighting, someone can be guilty of animal fighting with any animal. 

  1. Abandonment

Another devastating yet common form of animal cruelty is abandonment. Abandonment occurs when someone intentionally discards an animal it owns. This commonly occurs with people leaving their animal on the highway or even in the trash somewhere. Sadly, there has been a major increase in animal abandonment in light of the pandemic with many families leaving their animals behind when their home was foreclosed upon. 

  1. Bestiality

While very difficult to talk about, bestiality, or sexual crimes against animals, still occur today. They include individual owners assaulting their animals or even group events held in private at remote locations. Though tough to imagine, bestiality is not expressly illegal in all 50 states. However, it is expressly illegal in North Carolina.

Attorney Joel Hancock at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with Animal Cruelty

If you have been charged with animal cruelty and believe that you are innocent or that your rights have been violated, you may have options. You have the right to defend yourself. Your best bet of doing so successfully is with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney who understands what you are up against and will fight on your behalf. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you to fight this charge. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.