Cruelty to Animals

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Cruelty to animals is a crime that is defined differently in different states and municipalities, but generally means a malicious or criminally negligent act that causes an animal pain, suffering, or death. 

For example:

  • Georgia law provides that a person is guilty of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor, when he or she causes pain, suffering, or death to an animal. It also provides that a person is guilty of the offense if he or she fails to provide an animal adequate living conditions such as food and water. 
  • New York law provides that a person is guilty of cruelty to animals, a class A misdemeanor, when he or she overdrives, overloads, tortures, cruelly beats, injures, maims, or acts in a cruel manner. 
  • Connecticut law provides that a person is guilty of cruelty to animals when he or she overdrives, overworks, tortures, mutilates, or deprives sustenance to an animal. It provides that a person will not be fined more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for more than one year for the first offense. 

However, many states provide that a person is guilty of a felony if he or she intentionally injures, kills, or tortures an animal. This is also known as aggravated cruelty to animals

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]