Welfare and Neglect Statutes Round 2

Picking up the welfare and neglect thread from where I left off, I thought I’d start this segment with a note about a matter that began in the last few days and is very pertinent. I was on the phone with a livestock officer roughly an hour ago. He and other officers were interviewing suspects in the killing of a cow. The cow was killed with softballs shot from a “spud gun”.

Let me begin by pointing out the criminal animal cruelty statute – ARS 13-2910 (“2910”). This body of law begins at 13-2910 then runs through 13-2910.09 – essentially 10 separate laws. Continuing on this point is the length of the law – nearly 2500 words. (Remember how hard it was to get to 500 words for a paper you had to turn in at school?)

An aside: the Declaration of Independence runs 1337 words including date and heading while The Constitution of the United States as originally written has a total word count of 4440, with 27 amendments it weighs in at 7591.

Now let’s get to the meat of the situation. This is CONVOLUTED so be patient. There are 8 sections (A – H) in 2910. Definitions are located at the end (H), while violations (13 in total) are located at the beginning (A), and the breakdown as to whether the violation is a misdemeanor (Class 1) or felony (Class 6) is addressed in (G). Got that? (and I’m just getting started!)

Definitions in the law (because you need to know or at least be able to find them to understand their consequences.)

1. “Animal” means a mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian. [Important Point – Livestock Officers are restricted from enforcing this statute on animals which are not defined as livestock in ARS 3-1201(5).]

2. “Cruel mistreatment” means to torture or otherwise inflict unnecessary serious physical injury on an animal or to kill an animal in a manner that causes protracted suffering to the animal.

3. “Cruel neglect” means to fail to provide an animal with necessary food, water or shelter.

4. “Handler” means a law enforcement officer or any other person who has successfully completed a course of training prescribed by the person’s agency or the service animal owner and who used a specially trained animal under the direction of the person’s agency or the service animal owner.

5. “Service animal” means an animal that has completed a formal training program, that assists its owner in one or more daily living tasks that are associated with a productive lifestyle and that is trained to not pose a danger to the health and safety of the general public.

6. “Working animal” means a horse or dog that is used by a law enforcement agency, that is specially trained for law enforcement work and that is under the control of a handler.


Now that we have some idea of Who’s on first? Here are what boils down to the ground rules (i.e. the violations). A person commits cruelty to animals if the person does any of the following:


8. Intentionally or knowingly subjects any animal under the person’s custody or control to cruel neglect or abandonment that results in serious physical injury to the animal.

9. Intentionally or knowingly subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment.

10. Intentionally or knowingly interferes with, kills or harms a working or service animal without either legal privilege or consent of the owner.

11. Intentionally or knowingly allows any dog that is under the person’s custody or control to interfere with, kill or cause physical injury to a service animal.

13. Intentionally or knowingly obtains or exerts unauthorized control over a service animal with the intent to deprive the service animal handler of the service animal.


1. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly subjects any animal under the person’s custody or control to cruel neglect or abandonment.

2. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly fails to provide medical attention necessary to prevent protracted suffering to any animal under the person’s custody or control.

3. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly inflicts unnecessary physical injury to any animal.

4. Recklessly subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment.

5. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly kills any animal under the custody or control of another person without either legal privilege or consent of the owner.

6. Recklessly interferes with, kills or harms a working or service animal without either legal privilege or consent of the owner.

7. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly leaves an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle and physical injury to or death of the animal is likely to result.

12. Recklessly allows any dog that is under the person’s custody or control to interfere with, kill or cause physical injury to a service animal.

Activities such as animal fighting, tripping, exemptions, housing, etc are located in the sub-parts which I may address in a later post. This one is obviously already more than big enough.

I’m out of time. But I’ll pick this up in a day or 2 when I’ll try to address some specific situations. In the meantime, please try to digest the information above – and chew thoroughly!

Enjoy the ride.

Welfare and Neglect Statutes

Since we’ve had a recent spate of cases in the courts I thought I’d take some time to review the state statutes pertaining to neglect and cruelty. There are 2. Today’s post will focus on the 1 within the Ag Title. The 2nd is in the Criminal Title (13-2910).

ARS – Arizona Revised Statutes. Title 3 – Agriculture.

3-1721. Petition of seizure; notice of seizure; lien for expenses; forced sale; disposition of proceeds; nonliability of state; neglect or cruel treatment of equine; civil penalty; legal representation

You can find the full statute here. At 800+ words, it runs a little long. But I’ve whittled it down to the main points below.

  1. Any person who believes an equine is in poor physical condition because of neglect or cruel treatment may petition a justice of the peace of the precinct or a city magistrate of the city in which the equine is found for an order authorizing ADA (AZ Dept of Ag) to take possession of and provide care for the equine for a fifteen-day period.
  2. The clerk of the court or justice of the peace after filing and docketing the petition, enters a brief statement of the petition and sets time for a hearing that is not less than five and not more than fifteen days after the petition is filed.
  3. The order shall not be issued unless the affidavit provides that the livestock custody trust fund established by section 3-1377 has a balance that permits the department to provide such care…
    1. That means the person must call ADA to verify there is money available for feed and care while the equine is impounded.
  4. On receiving the order, ADA shall take possession of the equine, along with serving the owner.
  5. If, at the hearing, it is determined that the equine at the time of taking possession was not in poor physical condition because of neglect or cruel treatment, the owner may immediately reclaim the equine and is not liable for costs involved.
  6. On failure of the owner to be awarded immediate, expense-free possession of the equine, ADA shall either sell the equine at public auction or, if the equine’s condition makes its sale impractical, dispose of the equine in the most humane manner possible.
  7. The county attorney any time prior to the expiration of fifteen days after the seizure of the equine, may take charge of and keep the equine at the expense of the county when the county attorney considers it to be of evidentiary value in any criminal prosecution relating to the condition of the equine.
  8. In addition to violating ARS 13-2910, a person who subjects an equine to neglect or cruel treatment is subject to a civil penalty of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars for each violation.

As a quick summary, anyone who believes an equine (horses, donkeys, mules, or asses) is in poor physical condition because of neglect or cruel treatment can petition the court to be heard on the matter. All it takes is 1 phone call to verify ADA has funds to provide feed and care while it’s impounded AND the file a petition with the court.

The process is quick (in terms of court) in that it will be heard between 5 and 15 days; and decisive:  you get to make your case (if s/he chooses to hear the matter) in front of the judge who will decide the matter and the owner gets the same opportunity. Then the matter is decided. Additionally, if the matter is decided against the owner, that person may also face criminal charges.

This statute affords any person an avenue that is both direct and swift to redress what s/he believes to be a cruel or neglectful situation involving equine. That is considerable power. And power should always be wielded wisely and with due consideration. Perhaps being neighborly and trying to be helpful might be the first course to consider before taking the route to the courts.

Y’all enjoy the ride.

Disease Update

Folks – here’s a quick run down of various disease situations around the country (in no particular order.)

VSV – Vesicular Stomatis Virus

From the number of new cases reported this week, it appears this year’s epidemic is winding down. 5 new equine and 1 new bovine in CO plus 1 new equine in TX. To date 365 positive premises have been identified.

VSV_Map-2014-09-24 VSV_Map-2014-09-24

SECD – Swine Enteric Coronavirus Disease

Unfortunately this one is still ugly. Here’s last week’s mapping. Estimates are now over 7 million piglets have died in this epidemic.



TB – Tuberculosis

I’m not aware of much cattle trade with the folks in MI. But in an attempt to keep everyone informed, MI has improved its TB status, narrowing down the affected zone.

MI-TB-2011-2014 MI-TB-OCT-2014

Unfortunately the folks to our west (CA) continue to battle the issue. Here’s an update they released in July reviewing the situation.

Be careful out there. But enjoy the ride!