Arizona Sees the Strengthening of Its Animal Cruelty Laws

animal cruelty lawsMost people agree on the fact that animal cruelty is appalling. When it comes to the consequences of committing violence against animals, however, many aren’t aware of the specifics.  Arizona does have its animal cruelty laws and new anti-animal abuse provisions went into effect in August, 2019. Here’s everything you need to know about the regulatory framework.

How Is Animal Cruelty Defined in Arizona?

Before taking a look at the sanctions and the ways in which Arizona animal cruelty laws have evolved, let’s give this crime a definition.

According to A.R.S. 13-2910, the term animal cruelty refers to all of the following:

  • Subjecting an animal under your custody to negligence or abandonment
  • Failing to give medical assistance to an animal under your custody in need of such
  • Causing physical harm or injuries to an animal
  • Killing somebody else’s animal without the owner’s consent
  • Leaving an animal unattended in a motor vehicle in conditions that increase the risk of injury or death
  • The cruel mistreatment of an animal
  • Allowing a dog under your custody to attack or kill a service animal
  • Exercising unauthorized control over a service animal

Just like in the case of many other crimes, cruelty against animals requires intend, recklessness or knowledge to be considered a crime. Unintentional or unknowing act of harm and negligence against an animal do not fall under the category of animal cruelty.

The New Law Against Animal Abuse

Arizona’s Humane Society had long been pushing for the passing of a new law known as House Bill 2671. The law finally became effective in August 2019.

According to House Bill 2671, existing animal cruelty sanctions are to increase. Previously, animal cruelty was considered a Class 6 felony. Based on the new regulation, the crime has been escalated to a Class 5 felony that comes with jail time and a range of additional sanctions, including supervised probation.

There’s a significant difference between a Class 5 and a Class 6 felony.

A class 6 felony can carry a maximum prison sentence of two years and that maximum will be imposed in the event of aggravating circumstances. Usually, the sentence involves a penalty of one year of prison time. Under certain circumstances, a judge could even designate a Class 6 felony as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which will bring down the scope of the sanctions.

Class 5 felonies carry a presumptive prison sentence of two years and an aggravated term of 2.5 years.

Click here for a link to report animal abuse in Arizona.

How Common Is Animal Cruelty in Arizona

Animal rights activists believe that the passing of House Bill 2671 is much needed.

According to a Fox10 Phoenix report, the Arizona Humane Society receives approximately 12,500 signals per year and of these, 7,400 involve animal cruelty. According to representatives of the Arizona Humane Society, only the most severe of cases were prosecuted in the past. Chances are that such lenient practices will change with the passing of the House Bill 2671.

Across the US, animal abuse is still a very serious problem. Dogs are the most common victims, representing approximately 65 percent of all reported animal cruelty cases. More than 6.5 million pets arrive at US shelters each year and of these animals, 1.5 million get euthanized.

The good news is that the legislative framework across the country has improved leaps and bounds over the past few decades. Prior to 1986, only four states had animal abuse laws. Today, animal cruelty is penalized everywhere and it is a felony in 46 out of 50 states. In the remaining four states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa and Mississippi), the felony charges apply to repeat offenders. It’s also important to point out that in 2016, the FBI added animal cruelty as a category to its Uniform Crime Report – a national program aimed at generating reliable crime-related information for use in law enforcement administration.

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