Laws Against Animal Abuse

In many homes and among many families, pets are an essential member of the household. However, while most people take proper care of their pets others, unfortunately, do not. A vast number of shelters exist as many rescued pets, like dogs, were either abandoned or even abused by previous owners. In order to protect the well-being of all animals, regardless of whether they are pets or strays, California has laws against animal abuse. According to California Penal Code 597 PC, it is illegal if a person “maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures, or wounds a living animal, or maliciously and intentionally kills an animal.”

The Penal Code covers a variety of the ways an animal can be mistreated. This article will focus on the general rules as prescribed under Penal Code 597 PC. As explained in the quotation from the legal text, animal abuse covers the intentional and malicious abuse of an animal, but it can also include intentional and malicious neglect as well. Such forms of neglect deal with providing the necessities of life for an animal, such as shelter, food, and water. An intentional failure to seek appropriate medical assistance for an animal is also included in neglect. Furthermore, 597 PC also covers those who overdrive, overload, or drive when overloaded an animal in their care.

If someone is found guilty of animal abuse, they face a wobbler charge under Penal Code 597 PC. This means that it is up to the prosecution to determine whether the guilty party should face a felony or misdemeanor conviction. If facing a felony, the convicted person will have to spend up to three years in a state prison facility and pay a possible $20,000 fine. A misdemeanor is similar in that the same maximum fine as a felony has to be paid; however, the convicted person would only have to spend up to one year in a county jail.

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