The tragic stories are everywhere, and they seem to be hitting headlines with regularity. In late August, a Massachusetts woman who worked as a dog trainer in Connecticut was charged with 29 counts of animal cruelty. Earlier in the month, a Texas law enforcement officer was fired amidst allegations of negligence when his police dog was left in his patrol car and died.
Despite the widespread occurrences, cases of animal cruelty can be challenging to prosecute as state laws differ greatly, and no current federal statute exists expressly prohibiting cruelty to animals. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is looking to change that, as proposed legislation in Washington would make animal torture a federal crime and a felony.
Several years ago, the United States Congress outlawed the selling of videos depicting animal cruelty and torture but stopped short of criminalizing the acts themselves at a federal level. In 2014, Senator Blumenthal was at the forefront of the effort to amend the nation’s animal fighting laws, making it illegal to attend or bring a child to a cockfight or a dogfight. Now, the Democratic senator is looking to close the loophole many believe Congress left in 2010, as is a principal co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill known as the Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT Act.
Under its provisions, the PACT Act would make animal cruelty on federal property or in interstate commerce a felony under federal law. Those convicted under the proposed law could face up to seven years in prison and substantial fines for a single violation. The PACT Act has garnered support from the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, and numerous animal welfare groups based on the concern that those who commit animal cruelty may be more likely to extend that cruelty to human victims as well.
Connecticut Animal Cruelty Provisions
While the debate continues in Washington over the future of the PACT Act, it is important to realize the animal cruelty is already against state law in Connecticut. Charges for animal cruelty can be brought against an individual for:
- Failing to provide adequate food, water, and living conditions for an animal under his or her care. This may include leaving an animal in a hot car, depending on the circumstances;
- Failing to restrain an animal properly to prevent injury caused by the animal to itself or another animal; or
- Inflicting cruelty upon or using an animal for baiting or fighting purposes.
Violations of the Connecticut animal cruelty law are usually Class A misdemeanors, punishable by up one year in prison and fines of up to $1,000 per charge. Subsequent offenses and charges of intentional or malicious animal cruelty are prosecutable as Class D felonies, carrying up to five years in prison.
If you have been accused of animal cruelty, fully understanding the law is an important first step. The experienced Hartford criminal defense lawyers at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, are ready to help you in not only learning about the law but in protecting your rights as well. Call [[phone1]] for a confidential consultation and get the answers you need from legal professionals who care.