Pet Cruelty and Neglect

We are working to update outdated or inadequate laws in the Midwest, enact new legislation, and hold governing agencies accountable to better protect pet animals in a variety of situations.

Overview

Animal cruelty is defined as any intentional or repeated behavior that inflicts physical or psychological distress in animals, including, but not limited to, causing unnecessary pain, suffering, distress or death. It can often be difficult to understand how widespread pet cruelty and neglect can be because, unlike violent crimes against people, situations of pet abuse are not compiled by state agencies, and many states’ statute or definition of pet animal care is minimal or not well enforced.

Pet cruelty and neglect can be a broad category. It can include an individual inflicting intentional pain on an animal, hoarding behavior, organized cruelty like dogfighting, and more. Our organization focuses on how we can update inadequate state laws to increase a pet’s protection and require more severe or appropriate penalties, or how to create a better method of enforcement for laws that are adequate but not enforced.

Updating Inadequate Laws in the Midwest

There are animal cruelty laws in all 50 states that include some level of a felony provision or the most severe type of legal punishment. But many are outdated or require updating to be better. For example, Iowa is the only state in the country without a felony penalty for animal torture on the first offense. Or in Missouri, animal abuse is considered a misdemeanor, or the lowest type of legal punishment, unless the animal’s suffering is the result of torture or mutilation, or the defendant has previously been found guilty of animal abuse. Missouri is another good example of having an adequate law but little enforcement.

In 2010, the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act was passed to help stop puppy mills in the state. Despite having a decent law to strictly regulate commercial dog breeders and hold accountable those operating as a puppy mill, Missouri continues to be the number one state in the country for the volume of puppy mills because of the lack of enforcement of the law. It would require action on behalf of the Missouri legislature to investigate how the agency responsible for overseeing and inspecting dog breeding facilities in the state could be doing better, like increasing the number of inspectors, their budget, etc.

Pet animals can be better protected through updated legislation and enforcement of the law.

The Cruelty of Leaving Pets in Hot Cars

On a 90° day, the temperature inside a parked car can rocket to 109° in just ten minutes. An animal left unattended in a hot car can suffer irreparable organ damage and even death. This is an unavoidable tragedy happening far too often.

It varies state to state if it’s legal to leave a pet animal unattended in a parked car under certain conditions, and if there is a Good Samaritan law that grants a person the legal right or immunity from civil liability (protection from being sued) to rescue a vulnerable pet animal from a vehicle when the individual believes that the animal is in imminent danger. If there is a Good Samaritan law in place, there are often a number of steps that an individual must follow in order to rescue an animal in danger.

Penalties for leaving a pet animal unattended in a vehicle under dangerous conditions vary from state to state. In some states there is a fine, a misdemeanor or low penalty charge, a felony charge, or nothing at all. In 2016, our organization enacted a new law in Kansas to grant any person the legal right or immunity from civil liability (protection from being sued) to rescue a vulnerable pet animal from a vehicle when the individual believes that the animal is in imminent danger.

Quick Facts

There are animal cruelty laws in all 50 states that include some level of a felony provision.

Iowa is the only state without a first offense felony charge for animal torture.

There are four states in the Midwest with a Good Samaritan law that allows for law enforcement to intervene and rescue a vulnerable pet animal trapped in a vehicle under dangerous conditions.

There are four states in the Midwest with a Good Samaritan law for any person to intervene and rescue a vulnerable pet animal trapped in a vehicle under dangerous conditions.

Sadly, four states in the Midwest have no law to help protect a vulnerable pet animal trapped in a vehicle under dangerous conditions.

TAKE ACTION

We are working to address pet animal cruelty and neglect in the Midwest in a variety of ways.

In Kansas, we are requesting the Kansas legislature update the thirty-three-year old Kansas Pet Animal Act to better the requirements and protection for pet animals in dog breeding operations and in pet stores, and help put an end to puppy mills in Kansas.

In Missouri, we are requesting the Missouri legislature enact a Good Samaritan law that grants a person the legal right or immunity from civil liability to rescue a vulnerable pet animal from a vehicle when the animal is in imminent danger.

Please help us protect pets in the Midwest by signing our current petitions!

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