Animal Abuse – The country has seen many instances of animal abuse in recent years. One of the most famous cases involving animal abuse was with Michael Vick – former Atlanta Falcons quarterback -and his dog fighting ring. It’s important, however, to understand the laws regarding animal abuse in your state and county. For the purpose of this blog, we will explain the state statute on animal abuse.
Like all of our other blogs, this is intended for informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense lawyer.
Animal Abuse Defined
How does North Carolina define animal abuse or animal cruelty? Typically, animal abuse is used interchangeably with animal cruelty. The state is specific regarding the definitions involved. In North Carolina, to injure, torment, overwork, kill, poison, beat, maim, and/or not give an animal the food and water it needs to survive are basis for charges of animal abuse. This is all found in Article 47 state statute § 14-360 — Cruelty to animals.
Violations of the Statute
The statute explains instances in which violations start at a Class 1 misdemeanor all the way up to a Class H Felony. As used in this section, the term “animal” includes every living vertebrate in the classes Amphibia, Reptilian, Aves, and Mammalia except human beings
(a) If any person shall intentionally overdrive, overload, wound, injure, torment, kill, or deprive of necessary sustenance, or cause or procure to be overdriven, overloaded, wounded, injured, tormented, killed, or deprived of necessary sustenance, any animal, every such offender shall for every such offense be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(b) If any person shall maliciously torture, mutilate, maim, cruelly beat, disfigure, poison, or kill, or cause or procure to be tortured, mutilated, maimed, cruelly beaten, disfigured, poisoned, or killed, any animal, every such offender shall for every such offense be guilty of a Class H felony.
It’s important to note the difference in which a Class H Felony involves the acts being malicious or procured. The word “maliciously” means an act committed intentionally and with malice or bad motive.
Hot Car Situation
Often in social media, we see heart wrenching stories of dogs and other animals locked inside cars on hot days while their owner is inside establishments. A lot of us have seen people break car windows in order to save these animals. As much as we’d like to save panting animals from the heat of a car, in North Carolina, we must look at how the law says we may react to such situations – in order to not obtain criminal charges. North Carolina general statute § 14-363.3 explains that certain officers and rescue workers, such as firefighters, police officers and animal control, are allowed to rescue a pet from a car if there’s reason to believe that the animal is likely to suffer or die from heat, cold, or lack of ventilation.
If you or someone you know has been charged with or in connection with instances involving animal abuse, contact us. It’s important to know your rights and options regarding criminal charges in North Carolina.