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Laws Make Taping Farm Cruelty a Crime

Laws Make Taping Farm Cruelty a Crime


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Several states have passed laws preventing activists from recording livestock mistreatment

Wikimedia/Scott Bauer

Video proof of farm cruelty is one of the more effective ways for animal rights activists to effect change. A little over a year ago, McDonald's and Target ditched their egg supplier, Sparboe Farms, after animal rights group Mercy for Animals released video of animal cruelty at several of the company's facilities. Clearly something must be done to stop this widespread problem, and according to several lawmakers the best way to deal with this pervasive injustice is to make it illegal for people to film acts of farm cruelty.

Some of the proposed or enacted bills would make it illegal for anyone to covertly videotape livestock or to apply for a job without disclosing one's connections to an animal rights organization.

According to the New York Times, several of the proposed laws seem to be based on work from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business advocacy group that creates model bills for legislators, including one called "The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act," which would put anyone who took pictures on a farm with the intent of "defaming the owner" on a terrorist registry.

Some activists told the Times that they hadn't seen anything that would label them as terrorists, but that last year Iowa, Utah, and Missouri had passed laws that made it basically impossible to document animal cruelty in those states.

Indiana and Tennessee are expected to vote on similar laws in the next few weeks.


Animal Abuse and Human Abuse: Partners in Crime

Acts of cruelty to animals are not mere indications of a minor personality flaw in the abuser they are symptomatic of a deep mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals don’t stop there—many of them move on to their fellow humans. “Murderers … very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids,” says Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 1

Studies have shown that violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to have abused animals as children than criminals who are considered non-aggressive. 2 A survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found that all of them had high levels of aggression toward people as well. 3 According to a New South Wales newspaper, a police study in Australia revealed that “100 percent of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of animal cruelty.” 4 To researchers, a fascination with cruelty to animals is a red flag in the backgrounds of serial killers and rapists. According to the FBI’s Ressler, “These are the kids who never learned it’s wrong to poke out a puppy’s eyes.” 5

Examples That Make the Headlines: Notorious Killers
History is replete with serial killers whose violent tendencies were first directed at animals. Albert DeSalvo (the “Boston Strangler”), who killed 13 women, trapped dogs and cats and shot arrows at them through boxes in his youth. 6 Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer impaled frogs, cats, and dogs’ heads on sticks. 7 Dennis Rader (the BTK killer), who terrorized people in Kansas, wrote in a chronological account of his childhood that he hanged a dog and a cat. 8 During the trial of convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, a psychology professor testified that the teenager, who killed 10 people with a rifle, had “pelted—and probably killed—numerous cats with marbles from a slingshot when he was about 14.” 9

The deadly violence that has shattered schools in recent years has, in most cases, begun with cruelty to animals. High-school killers such as Nikolas Cruz in Parkland, Florida and Luke Woodham, in Pearl, Mississippi, tortured animals before starting their shooting sprees. 10,11 Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who shot and killed 12 classmates before turning their guns on themselves, spoke to their classmates about mutilating animals. 12

“There is a common theme to all of the shootings of recent years,” says Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, director of the Child Study Center at New York University. “You have a child who has symptoms of aggression toward his peers, an interest in fire, cruelty to animals, social isolation, and many warning signs that the school has ignored.” 13

Sadly, many of these criminals’ childhood violence went unexamined—until it was directed at humans.

‘The Link’ Next Door: Cruelty to Animals and Family Violence
Because abusers target the powerless, crimes against animals, spouses, children, and the elderly often go hand in hand. Children who abuse animals may be repeating a lesson learned at home like their parents, they are reacting to anger or frustration with violence. Their violence is directed at the only individual in the family who is more vulnerable than they are: an animal. Professor Frank R. Ascione of the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work says, “The research is pretty clear that there are connections between animal abuse and domestic violence and child abuse.” 14

Parents who neglect or abuse animals frequently subject their own children to similar hardships. Indiana residents Jade M. Jonas and Michael R. Smith faced felony charges after authorities reportedly discovered their two children as well as three dogs languishing in their filthy home. According to news sources, officials first found a tethered dog who was deprived of food and water outside the home. Upon entering the couple’s residence, investigators reportedly found a 3-month-old boy lying near piles of feces, trash, and rotten food. They also found a half-clothed toddler and two additional dogs. 15 In another case, Illinois authorities found 40 parasite-ridden dogs languishing amid 6 inches of feces on property occupied by John Morris. According to news reports, officials responding to neighbors’ concerns found the sick and emaciated dogs confined to filthy animal carriers before confirming that three children—ages 3, 10, and 15—lived in the horrific conditions as well. 16

Sixty percent of more than 50 New Jersey families that had received treatment as a result of incidents of child abuse also had animals in the home who had been abused. 17 In three separate studies, more than half of the battered women surveyed reported that their abuser threatened or injured their animal companions. 18 In one of those studies, one in four women said that she stayed with the batterer because she feared leaving the animal behind. 19

Stephen Williams was charged with cruelty to animals, child cruelty, and aggravated assault in Georgia after allegedly hacking his wife’s puppy to death with an ax and threatening to decapitate her with the same weapon—all in front of three horrified children. 20 Scott Maust of Pennsylvania was charged with corruption of minors, making terroristic threats, and cruelty to animals after allegedly shooting his family’s dog with a .22-caliber firearm, ordering his four children to clean up the bloody scene, and threatening to kill them if they told anyone. 21

Stopping the Cycle of Abuse
Schools, parents, communities, and courts are beginning to realize that shrugging off cruelty to animals as a “minor” crime is like ignoring a ticking time bomb. Some courts now aggressively penalize animal abusers, examine families for other signs of violence, and order perpetrators to undergo psychological evaluations and counseling.

In March 2006, Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed a law—the first of its kind in the U.S.—that permits judges to include animal companions in court-issued protection orders against domestic abusers. 22 Other states, including Vermont, New York, California, and Colorado, followed suit. People who harm animals in violation of a court order can face fines and jail time. 23

A handful of states require animal control officers and spousal/child abuse investigators to share information when animal abuse or domestic abuse is found in a home. Professor Ascione, who also advises law enforcement officials in abuse cases, told The New York Times that cross-reporting requirements have helped foster early intervention. 24

What You Can Do
Communities must recognize that abuse to any living being is unacceptable and endangers everyone. Children should be taught to care for and respect animals. After an extensive study of the links between animal abuse and human abuse, two experts concluded, “The evolution of a more gentle and benign relationship in human society might be enhanced by our promotion of a more positive and nurturing ethic between children and animals.” 25


No More Exposés in North Carolina

Factory farm operators believe that the less Americans know about what goes on behind their closed doors, the better for the industry. That’s because the animals sent through those factories often endure an unimaginable amount of mistreatment and abuse.

Cows too sick to walk are dragged by the neck across cement floors. Pigs are stabbed and beaten with sledgehammers. Chickens are thrown against walls and stomped to death. And accepted industry practices, like confining animals in impossibly small cages, are just as brutal.

Nearly always, this treatment comes to light only because courageous employees — or those posing as employees — take undercover video and release it to the public. The industry should welcome such scrutiny as a way to expose the worst operators. Instead, the industry’s lobbyists have taken the opposite approach, pushing for the passage of so-called “ag-gag” laws, which ban undercover recordings on farms and in slaughterhouses. These measures have failed in many states, but they have been enacted in eight. None has gone as far as North Carolina, where a new law that took effect Jan. 1 aims to silence whistle-blowers not just at agricultural facilities, but at all workplaces in the state. That includes, among others, nursing homes, day care centers, and veterans’ facilities.

Anyone who violates the law — say, by secretly taping abuses of elderly patients or farm animals and then sharing the recording with the media or an advocacy group — can be sued by business owners for bad publicity and be required to pay a fine of $5,000 for each day that person is gathering information or recording without authorization.

The law originally singled out factory-farm exposés, but after it twice failed to pass in the face of resistance from animal-rights activists, lawmakers succeeded in pushing through a version that covered everyone equally. Gov. Pat McCrory, who said he was concerned the law would make it harder for employees to report illegal activity, vetoed the measure, but the state’s legislature, the General Assembly, overrode the veto last June.

The law exempts those who report abuses directly to their bosses or state authorities, but its intended effect is to shut down a very effective means of getting important information to the public. As one of its sponsors told a Senate committee last year, the whole point is to stop people who would go “running out to a news outlet.”

This is a clear violation of the constitutional freedoms of speech and the press, as a coalition of animal-welfare, consumer protection and good-government groups argued in a federal lawsuit filed in January.

They have precedent to back them up, in the form of a decision by a federal judge last August that struck down an ag-gag law in Idaho on free-speech grounds, the first such ruling in the country. Activists who pose as employees to gain access to farming operations, the judge wrote, “actually advance core First Amendment values by exposing misconduct to the public eye and facilitating dialogue on issues of considerable public interest.”

As far back as the publication of “The Jungle,” which documented the horrific conditions inside Chicago meatpacking plants in the early 20th century, the public has relied on journalists and activists to expose dangerous abuses and misconduct by businesses.

The outcry that follows revelations about factory farms has led to important policy changes, like California’s 2008 initiative banning some of the worst kinds of intensive confinement of farm animals. The secrecy promoted by ag-gag laws should have no place in American society.


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Yet these grim images, say the plaintiffs, are a vital part of "the public debate about animal welfare, food safety, environmental, and labor issues that arise on public and private lands." Indeed, the complaint alleges, the success of past undercover investigations—leading to food safety recalls, plant closures, and criminal convictions—are the very reason why Idaho's powerful farming lobby went to its legislature seeking this protection.

The plaintiffs are a collection of journalists, free-speech advocates, animal advocates, and others who argue that the new law violates the Supremacy Clause, the First Amendment, and (more creatively) the Fourteenth Amendment. The effect of the new law would be profound, they say, and profoundly contradictory to core American values: It creates more severe criminal sanctions for those who would expose animal cruelty than for those who commit such cruelty.

The complaint is good reading in part because of the outlandish quotations from supporters of the law, such as this one from Idaho state senator Jim Patrick, a sponsor of the bill: "[T]errorism has been used by enemies for centuries to destroy the ability to produce food and the confidence in the food's safety. . This is how you combat your enemies."

And there is this gem from a representative speaking in support of the Idaho Dairymen's Association: "The dairy industry decided they could no longer be held hostage by such threats. They could not allow fellow members of the industry to be persecuted in the court of public opinion."

What did these folks do to fend off this "persecution"? Why they commissioned a lawyer who, the complaint tells us, drafted the statute. ( This makes this law somewhat unusual. Many of the current generation of ag-gag laws have been drafted or at least been coordinated by the American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative group that has recently brought America both its"stand-your-ground" laws and voter suppression .)

But James Madison this legislation-drafting dairy lawyer isn't: T he law is both too broad and too narrow. It is too broad because it purports to chill all sorts of speech and conduct that may otherwise be protected by law. And it is too narrow because it prohibits "audio or video recordings" without prohibiting still photography of the same images. And it's likely to get intense scrutiny from the federal courts because of the content-based nature of the motives behind it.

If nothing else, perhaps the lawsuit will give the law's stoutest defenders a chance to explain to the federal judiciary how public confidence in the state's agricultural industry will be buoyed by a law that keeps from public view the deplorable conduct the industry wants to keep hidden. Or how people who risk life and limb to obtain these videos are "terrorists" for seeking to inform the public about the safety of the food they eat or the milk they drink.

To get a broader perspective on the lawsuit, and the new law, I spoke Tuesday morning with Ken Paulson, a university professor (and dean) at Middle Tennessee State University who is a free speech/press expert and president of the vaunted First Amendment Center. He has followed statutes like these for years. Usually, he says, bills like Idaho's bill get vetoed by governors who view them both as unconstitutional and bad public policy for the ways in which they criminalize whistle-blowing.

COHEN: What do you make of this law and this complaint?

PAULSON: Well, it is clearly designed to head off YouTube videos because there is no prohibition against taking photographs. Is that an oversight. Whatever the justification [for the law] is how do you possibly distinguish between capturing images on video and capturing them on a still camera? It would have the same level of intrusion, the same level of interference.

COHEN: Does that omission factor into the constitutional analysis going forward?

PAULSON: One of the things the Court would do is to assess whether there was a legitimate reason for this legislation beyond preventing the dissemination of information to the public and whatever ostensible motive there might be for preventing videotaping would apply to other media as well, you would think. At the very least it underscores that there is a specific form of communication that this bill is targeting. It isn't about trespass. It isn't about privacy. It isn't about proprietary methods. It's about limiting the public's understanding of what's going on these farms and preventing people from documenting it.

COHEN: What else strikes you about this?

PAULSON: There is a certain redundancy to all the ag-gag bills. They invariably try to limit investigative work by criminalizing things that already are criminal. You look on the face on this [law]. You violate the law if you enter a farm by "force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass." Each and every one of those is already prohibited by multiple statutes. If you were trying to eliminate coercion and fraud and trespass you would not need to pass this bill. If you were trying to limit the scrutiny of the agriculture industry you would need to pass this bill.

It is not only constitutionally suspect it's terrible public policy on the part of the legislature. Give me the very best argument for why this needs to be in place and then tell me why you wouldn't then pass similar legislation for day-care centers. Would anyone suggest that you would send someone to prison for documenting child abuse? Is there anyone who is going to run on that platform? Why in the world do we have a lesser standard for animal abuse? The answer is that animals are not people—but the broader point is that the health of animals affects the health of people.

I think an important point to be made is that the first amendment role that a press plays in keeping a watchdog on society is not limited to members of the press. It is important to remember that activist organizations, private citizens and others play similar valuable roles in democracy. It is wrong to suggest that they are intruders or troublemakers. We actually owe a debt to those who blow whistles.


On farm, taping cruelty is becoming the crime

This is all the more reason to grow your own food or purchase from the farmer market or the farmer directly from the farm if possible.

On one covert video, farm workers illegally burn the ankles of Tennessee walking horses with chemicals. Another captures workers in Wyoming punching and kicking pigs and flinging piglets into the air.

And at one of the country’s largest egg suppliers, a video shows hens caged alongside rotting bird corpses, while workers burn and snap off the beaks of young chicks. One worker even jokingly stuffs a full-grown bird into another employee’s pants pocket.

Each video — all shot in the last two years by undercover animal rights activists — drew swift response: Federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged the horse trainer and other workers, who have pleaded guilty, with violating the Horse Protection Act. Local authorities in Wyoming charged nine farm employees with cruelty to animals. And the egg supplier, which operates in Iowa and other states, lost one of its biggest customers, McDonald’s, which said the video played a part in its decision.

But a dozen or so state legislatures have had a different reaction: They proposed or enacted bills that would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups. They have also drafted measures that would require such videos to be given to the authorities almost immediately, which activists say would thwart any meaningful undercover investigation of large factory farms.
Critics call them “Ag-Gag” bills.

Some of the legislation appears inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business advocacy group with hundreds of state representatives from farm states as members. The group creates model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that in the past have included everything from “stand your ground” gun laws to tightened voter identification rules.

One of the group’s model bills, “The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act,” prohibits filming or taking pictures on livestock farms to “defame the facility or its owner.” Violators would be placed on a “terrorist registry.”

Officials from the group did not respond to a request for comment.

Animal rights activists say they have not seen legislation that would require them to register as terrorists, but they say other measures — including laws passed last year in Iowa, Utah and Missouri — make it nearly impossible to produce similar undercover exposes. Some groups say that they have curtailed activism in those states.

“It definitely has had a chilling effect on our ability to conduct undercover investigations,” said Vandhana Bala, general counsel for Mercy for Animals, which has shot many videos, including the egg-farm investigation in 2011.

(McDonald’s said that video showed “disturbing and completely unacceptable” behavior, but that none of the online clips were from the Iowa farm that supplied its eggs. Bala, though, said that some video showing bird carcasses in cages did come from that facility.)

The American Farm Bureau Federation, which lobbies for the agricultural and meat industries, criticized the mistreatment seen on some videos. But the group cautions that some methods represent best practices endorsed by animal-care experts.

The videos may seem troubling to someone unfamiliar with farming, said Kelli Ludlum, the group’s director of congressional relations, but they can be like seeing open-heart surgery for the first time.

“They could be performing a perfect procedure, but you would consider it abhorrent that they were cutting a person open,” she said.

In coming weeks, Indiana and Tennessee are expected to vote on similar measures, while states from California to Pennsylvania continue to debate them.

Opponents have scored some recent victories, as a handful of bills have died, including those in New Mexico and New Hampshire. In Wyoming, the legislation stalled after loud opposition from animal rights advocates, including Bob Barker, former host of “The Price is Right.”

In Indiana, an expansive bill became one of the most controversial of the state legislative session, drawing heated opposition from labor groups and the state press association, which said the measure violated the First Amendment.

After numerous constitutional objections, the bill was redrafted and will be unveiled Monday, said Greg Steuerwald, a Republican state representative and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The new bill would require job applicants to disclose material information or face criminal penalties, a provision that opponents say would prevent undercover operatives from obtaining employment. And employees who do something beyond the scope of their jobs could be charged with criminal trespass.

An employee who took a video on a livestock farm with his phone and gave it to someone else would “probably” run afoul of the proposed law, Steuerwald said. The bill will apply not just to farms, but to all employers, he added.

Nancy J. Guyott, the president of the Indiana chapter of the AFL-CIO, said she feared that the legislation would punish whistle-blowers.

Nationally, animal rights advocates fear that they will lose a valuable tool that fills the void of what they say is weak or nonexistent regulation.
Livestock companies say that their businesses have suffered financially from unfair videos that are less about protecting animals than persuading consumers to stop eating meat.

Don Lehe, a Republican state representative from a rural district in Indiana, said online videos can cast farmers in a false light and give them little opportunity to correct the record.

“That property owner is essentially guilty before they had the chance to address the issue,” Lehe said.

As for whistle-blowers, advocates for the meat industry say that they are protected from prosecution by provisions in some bills that give them 24 to 48 hours to turn over videos to legal authorities.

“If an abuse has occurred and they have evidence of it, why are they holding on to it?” said Dale Moore, executive director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

But animal rights groups say investigations take months to complete.
Undercover workers cannot document a pattern of abuse, gather enough evidence to force a government investigation and determine whether managers condone the abuse within one to two days, said Matt Dominguez, who works on farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States.

“Instead of working to prevent future abuses, the factory farms want to silence them,” he said. “What they really want is for the whistle to be blown on the whistle-blower.”

The Humane Society was responsible for a number of undercover investigations, including the videos of the Wyoming pig farm and the Tennessee walking horses.
Video shot in 2011 showed workers dripping caustic chemicals onto the horses’ ankles and clasping metal chains onto the injured tissue.

This illegal and excruciating technique, known as “soring,” forces the horse to thrust its front legs forward after every painful step to exaggerate the distinctive high-stepping gait favored by breeders. The video also showed a worker hitting a horse in the head with a large piece of wood.

The Humane Society first voluntarily turned over the video to law enforcement. By the time the video was publicly disclosed, federal prosecutors had filed charges. A week later, they announced guilty pleas from the horse trainer and other workers.

Prosecutors later credited the Humane Society with prompting the federal investigation and establishing “evidence instrumental to the case.”

That aid to prosecutors shows the importance of lengthy undercover investigations that would be prevented by many of the bills, Dominguez said.
“At the first sign of animal cruelty, we’d have to pull our investigator out, and we wouldn’t be able to build a case that leads to charges,” he said.


Animal Legal Defense Fund 2020 State Animal Protection Laws Ranking Report

See the best and worst states for animal protection laws

Companion animals:

Companion animals &ndash a category often limited to dogs and cats, but that sometimes includes birds, horses, and other animals as well &ndash usually receive the strongest level of protection under state laws. However, there have been cases where someone has been prosecuted for having committed egregiously cruel acts against wildlife or farmed animals.

This can even extend to marine animals. In 2017, three Florida teenagers were charged with animal cruelty for their torture of a shark.

Each state also has laws governing some aspects of the &ldquohands-on&rdquo care of animals. For example, there are laws regulating how long animal shelters must &ldquohold&rdquo stray animals before they can be adopted or euthanized. There are also laws about how frequently pets must be vaccinated against rabies. States often also have some regulations concerning commercial breeding of companion animals.

&ldquoHot car laws&rdquo criminalize leaving an animal in a vehicle in extreme weather, and some hot car laws allow these animals to be rescued from vehicles in certain circumstances and make the rescuer immune from civil or criminal liability. Anti-tethering laws limiting how long pets can be tied up or chained outside, especially in extreme weather, are also growing in popularity, as are laws allowing pets to be included in domestic violence protective orders.

California is at the forefront of some other statewide animal protection measures. In 2017, California became the first state to pass a statewide &ldquo retail pet sale ban .&rdquo Under this law, retail establishments like pet stores may only sell cats, dogs and rabbits coming from shelters and rescue groups&mdashand not from commercial breeders. Maryland passed its own statewide retail pet sale ban in 2018, becoming the second state with this type of law.

Wildlife:

Each state also has wildlife protection laws, as well as laws regarding the time and manner under which it is sanctioned to kill wildlife through hunting and fishing.

Wild animal performance bans: Some states regulate the use of wild animals in performances. In 2017, Illinois and New York passed the country&rsquos first statewide bans on the use of elephants in entertainment. This is generally seen as the beginning of a more widespread trend.

Farmed animals:

While farmed animals are often left out of state animal protection laws, a number of states have adopted measures to limit the use of &ldquo intensive confinement &rdquo farming practices. Such practices entail confining animals in restraints that are so small the animals often can&rsquot fully stand up or move around. Chickens and hens kept in battery cages don&rsquot have room to stretch their wings.

Local animal protection laws: Many other companion animal protection measures are enacted and enforced at the local level. For example, hundreds of cities and counties have retail pet sale bans like California&rsquos and Maryland&rsquos.

Similarly, in states without anti-tethering laws, many cities and counties pass their own such laws. A growing number of cities are passing and enforcing their own wild animal performance bans.

While state and federal laws would offer more protection to more animals, these local laws are very important. They not only protect the animals in that area &ndash but they can also act as a bellwether for more expansive protections to come. It is not infrequent for new animal protection measures to begin at the city or county level, and then as the public increasingly demands it, to be taken up by the state legislators.


Court Rules ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Criminalizing Undercover Reporting Violates the First Amendment

In a win for freedom of the press, a federal court this month struck down an Iowa law making it a crime to lie about your intentions when accessing an agricultural production facility.

The “ag-gag” law, which was aimed at undercover journalists and activists, essentially prevented undercover investigations of the agricultural industry. In a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Iowa, the court rightly found that the law violates the First Amendment.

This welcome ruling joins a host of other court decisions finding similar laws in other states to be unconstitutional — and for good reason. Undercover reporting is a critical tool to inform the public about corporate wrongdoing. Overbroad laws criminalizing false speech violate the First Amendment and prevent investigative journalism from holding powerful private actors to account.

Iowa was one of many states that passed ag-gag laws criminalizing various activities essential to undercover investigations aiming to expose animal cruelty and other illegal or unsafe activities. These laws were passed after several high-profile undercover investigations revealed various abuses, such as sick cows being repeatedly shocked with electric prods in California and young calves being kicked and skinned alive at a Vermont slaughterhouse. Such investigations have prompted large-scale meat and egg recalls. That is why the ag-gag laws sparked opposition from press freedom and civil liberties groups as well as animal rights, environmental justice, and food safety advocates.

One major area of constitutional concern is that ag-gag laws often make it a crime to be untruthful when gaining access to an industrial farm or similar place — for example, by not disclosing that you are an investigative journalist or activist when applying for a job.

Why is it a constitutional problem to outlaw lying? Because the First Amendment protects false speech where there is no legally recognizable harm. The Supreme Court has held that while certain limited categories of false speech, such as perjury, are inherently harmful and can be outlawed, the First Amendment does not permit outlawing all lies — even distasteful lies that have no social benefit.

When it comes to undercover investigations, however, lying is done in service of the public good — and not only in the agricultural industry. The enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, for example, has long relied on undercover audit testing of landlords and employers to ensure they do not treat housing or job applicants differently based on protected class status such as race, gender, or disability.

Such testing often requires false speech, for example when submitting identical, false resumes to an employer that vary only by the name of the applicant, or when a housing tester misrepresents her intention to actually rent a home. The federal government and the courts have recognized for decades that these tactics are a critical part of upholding civil rights protections.

In a similar vein, the ACLU is currently representing researchers who are asserting their First Amendment right to submit false information online as part of testing websites to uncover algorithmic discrimination in housing and employment opportunities. That is why it is encouraging that the court considering the Iowa law concluded that there are constitutional problems with outlawing false speech in service of undercover journalism. Courts have also struck down ag-gag provisions prohibiting recording or collecting information in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming on First Amendment grounds.

Efforts to criminalize such undercover investigations insulate private actors from being held publicly accountable. They also violate the First Amendment.


Animal Cruelty and Other Crimes

Research suggests a link between animal abuse and domestic violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conducted a study and found that women in domestic violence shelters are 11 times more likely to report animal abuse by their partner than women not experiencing violence. Eighty-five percent of domestic violence shelters report that they commonly encounter women who speak about pet abuse incidents.

“Over the past 25 years, researchers and professionals in a variety of human services and animal welfare disciplines have established significant correlations between animal abuse, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, elder abuse, and other forms of violence,” Hopman says.

The ASPCA supports efforts to raise awareness of animal abuse and neglect as significant crimes, and publicize the connection between animal cruelty and other forms of violence.

Humber says people must be vigilant and recognize animal cruelty cases and offenders as areas of concern.

“We all need to be concerned with the neighbor that takes pet care responsibilities lightly and report them to the appropriate agency” he says. “We also need to be aware that animal cruelty could be a predictor or precipitator of violent behavior against people.”


Animal Cruelty, Law Enforcement, and Prosecution – FAQs

Many peer-reviewed studies have confirmed what most of us understand instinctively – there is a strong link between violence against animals and violence against people. In other words, people who hurt animals are more likely to hurt people.

Are there any studies proving this link?

The body of evidence establishing the link between human and animal cruelty is massive. Here are just a few of these studies:

  • Childhood cruelty toward animals among criminals and noncriminals” [1] – Study determined that men convicted of violent crimes were significantly more likely to have committed animal cruelty as children.
  • Animal cruelty by children exposed to domestic violence” [2] – Children who witness domestic violence in their homes are nearly three times more likely to abuse animals than other children.
  • Developmental animal cruelty and its correlates in sexual homicide offenders and sex offenders[3] – Subjects with a history of animal cruelty were 11 times more like to have committed sexual homicide. Further, subjects with higher frequency of animal cruelty during adolescence were six times more likely to commit sexual homicide.
  • Statistical Summary of Offenders Charged with Crimes Against Companion Animals July 2001-July 2005[4] – Study conducted by the Chicago Police Department found that 65% of people arrested for crimes against animals had been previously arrested for battery against a human.
  • Battered pets and domestic violence: Animal abuse reported by women experiencing intimate violence and by nonabused women” [5] – Women at domestic violence shelters were almost 11 times more likely to have a partner that hurt or killed their pet than other women.

Why should animal cruelty by children be treated seriously? They’re just kids.

“Conduct disorder” is a serious psychiatric syndrome in children and teenagers. Typical symptoms include lying, physical cruelty, and property destruction. Animal cruelty is one of the most significant and earliest indicators that a child has or will develop conduct disorder. [6]

The evidence is so overwhelming that the following groups agree that animal abuse by children is a warning sign of future violent behavior: the American Psychological Association, the National Crime Prevention Council, the U.S. Department of Education, and The National School Safety Council. [7]

Why should prosecutors spend time on animal cruelty? Aren’t resources better spent on going after “serious” criminals?

We Need to Protect Animals to Protect People

There is a link between human violence and animal cruelty. Animal cruelty is connected to many forms of human violence including domestic violence, elder abuse, child abuse, and crimes such as murder, arson, and rape. One study found that in 88% of homes with abused children, animal abuse or neglect was also occurring. [8] And a comprehensive study of over 3500 domestic violence victims across 11 metropolitan cities in the U.S. found that pet abuse was one of only four significant risk factors for domestic violence among an urban population. [9]

Psychologists and social workers understand that animal cruelty, domestic violence, elder abuse, and child abuse intersect. Taking animal cruelty seriously actually puts law enforcement and prosecutors in a better position to uncover other crimes. Animal abuse is a significant indicator that there is something wrong in the abuser’s home or life. Sometimes animal cruelty is more visible to neighbors (such as leaving a dog tethered in the cold) than human violence. An animal control officer might be the only person who can uncover other crimes and alert authorities.

A Cycle of Violence

Failing to address animal cruelty today also creates a cycle of future violence. A 2009 study of the link between domestic violence, child abuse, and animal abuse found “a robust link between witnessing animal abuse and perpetuating cruelty towards animals…Furthermore, individuals who witnessed animal cruelty were eight times more likely to be perpetrators.” [10] Children who are simply present in a violent home are more likely to abuse animals later in life.

What’s the link between animal cruelty, domestic violence, and elder abuse?

When one form of abuse is occurring in a household, it’s more likely that other crimes are also happening. But there are other ways that animal cruelty is connected to abuse. Twelve different studies have found that between 18% and 48% of female domestic violence victims stay with their partner because they are worried about the safety of their companion animals. [11] Domestic abusers also use companion animals as pawns to manipulate women. In one study, 71% of abused women reported that their partners had killed, abused, or threatened to abuse an animal. [12] In response, more and more domestic violence shelters are creating programs to accommodate victims’ pets.

Similarly, the elderly are easily manipulated by abusers who threaten the safety or care of their animals. Victims of elder abuse are also more reluctant to accept outside help out of fear that their companion animal won’t be taken care of. A 2000 survey of adult protective services caseworkers discovered that 35% of clients reported their companion animals were abused, killed, or threatened. [13]

I heard that the FBI now investigates animal cruelty? Is this true?

Generally, no, but it does track it The reason you might have heard about animal cruelty and the FBI is that in 2016, the FBI started including animal cruelty cases as a Class A felony in its National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). NIBRS is used by law enforcement agencies across the country. Before 2016, animal cruelty was considered a lesser offense and put into a “miscellaneous” category. This new categorization enables officials to track reported cases of animal cruelty, allowing law enforcement and lawmakers to better understand and effectively respond to animal abuse. Without good data, it’s difficult to effectively respond.

But the bottom line is that the FBI’s decision to include animal cruelty as a Class A felony is an acknowledgement from our country’s largest criminal justice entities that animal cruelty is a serious offense. Other Class A felonies include murder, arson, and assault.

With all this evidence about the seriousness of animal cruelty, why aren’t more abusers put in jail?

Unfortunately, some police departments and prosecutors’ offices still don’t go after animal abusers either because they don’t believe it’s a serious crime or because they lack resources. Read on to learn about ways you can change that in your community!

Sources

[1] Kellert, S. R., & Felthous, A. R. (1985). Childhood cruelty toward animals among criminals and noncriminals. Human Relations, 38, 1113-1129.

[2] Currie, C. L. (2006). Animal cruelty by children exposed to domestic violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 30(4), 425-435.

[3] Alys, L., Wilson, J. C., Clarke, J., & Toman, P. (2009). Developmental animal cruelty and its correlates in sexual homicide offenders and sex offenders. In A. Linzey (Ed.), The link between animal abuse and human violence. Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK: Sussex Academic Press.

[4] Degenhardt, B. (2005). Statistical Summary of Offenders Charged with Crimes against Companion Animals July 2001-July 2005. Report from the Chicago Police Department.

[5] Ascione, F. R., Weber, C. V., Thompson, T. M., Heath, J., Maruyama, M., & Hayashi, K. (2007). Battered pets and domestic violence: Animal abuse reported by women experiencing intimate violence and by nonabused women. Violence Against Women, 12(4), 354-373.

[6] Ascione, F. R. (2001, September). Animal abuse and youth violence. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

[7] Randour, M. L. (2004). “Including animal cruelty as a factor in assessing risk and designing interventions.” Conference Proceedings, Persistently Safe Schools, The National Conference of the Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence, Washington, D.C.

[8] DeViney, E., Dickert, J., & Lockwood, R. (1983). The care of pets within child abusing families. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 4, 321-329.

[9] Walton-Moss, B. J., Manganello, J., Frye, V., & Campbell, J. C. (2005). Risk factors for intimate partner violence and associated injury among urban women. Journal of Community Health, 30(5), 377-389.

[10] DeGue, S., & DiLillo, D. (2009). Is animal cruelty a “red flag” for family violence? Investigating co-occurring violence toward children, partners and pets. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24(6), 1036-1056.

[11] Ascione, F. R. (2007). Emerging research on animal abuse as a risk factor for intimate partner violence. In K. Kendall-Tackett & S. Giacomoni (Eds.), Intimate partner violence (pp. 3-1 to 3-17). Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute.

[12] Ascione, F. R., Weber, C. V., & Wood, D. S. (1997). The abuse of animals and domestic violence: A national survey of shelters for women who are battered. Society and Animals, 5(3), 205-218.

[13] Boat, B. W., & Knight, J. C. (2000). Experiences and needs of adult protective services case managers when assisting clients who have companion animals. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 12(3/4), 145-155.


Full Statute Name: West's Wisconsin Statutes Annotated. Crimes. Chapter 951. Crimes Against Animals Chapter 944. Crimes Against Sexual Morality. Subchapter III. Fornication Adultery Gratification.

(1m) “Conservation warden” means a warden appointed under s. 23.10.

(2) “Cruel” means causing unnecessary and excessive pain or suffering or unjustifiable injury or death.

(3) “Farm animal” means any warm-blooded animal normally raised on farms in the United States and used or intended for use as food or fiber.

(3e) “Humane officer” means an officer appointed under s. 173.03.

(3f) “Fire department” includes a volunteer fire department and a department under s. 60.553, 61.66, or 62.13(2e).

(3m) “Law enforcement agency” has the meaning given in s. 165.83(1)(b).

(4) “Law enforcement officer” has the meaning assigned under s. 967.02 (5) but does not include a conservation warden appointed under s. 23.10.

(5) “Service dog” means a dog that is trained for the purpose of assisting a person with a sensory, mental, or physical disability or accommodating such a disability.

<<For credits, see Historical Note field.>>

HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES

Source:
L.1973, c. 314, §&ensp6, eff. June 29, 1974.

1983 Act 189, §&ensp325, eff. April 10, 1984.

1987 Act 248, §&ensp1g, eff. April 21, 1988.

1987 Act 332, §&ensp54, eff. July 1, 1989.

1989 Act 223, §&ensp1, eff. April 28, 1990 .

1997 Act 27, §&ensp5346e, eff. Oct. 14, 1997 .

1997 Act 192, §§&ensp20, 21, eff. Dec. 1, 1999 .

1999 Act 83, §&ensp229, eff. May 6, 2000 .

2001 Act 56, §&ensp231, eff. Jan. 1, 2003 .

2005 Act 353, §&ensp1, eff. May 3, 2006 .

2011 Act 32, §&ensp3539, eff. July 1, 2011 .

2011 Legislation:
2011 Act 32 amended subsec. (3f).

2005 Legislation:
2005 Act 353 created subsec. (5).

2001 Act 56 created subsec. (1m).

1999 Act 83 amended subsec. (3).

1997 Act 192 created subsec. (3e) and amended subsec. (4).

1997 Act 27, §&ensp9356 (2d) provides:

“Penalties for harassment of fire animals.&emspThe treatment of sections 951.01(3f) , 951.095(title) and (1)(intro.) and 951.18(2m) of the statutes applies to offenses occurring on or after the effective date [Oct. 14, 1997] of this subsection.”

1989 Act 223, §&ensp1 created subsec. (3m).

951.015. Construction and application

(1) This chapter may not be interpreted as controverting any law regulating wild animals that are subject to regulation under ch. 169, the taking of wild animals, as defined in s. 29.001(90), or the slaughter of animals by persons acting under state or federal law.

(2) For purposes of enforcing this chapter as to wild animals subject to regulation under ch. 169, a conservation warden has the same powers and duties that a law enforcement officer has under this chapter.

(3) This chapter does not apply to:

(a) Teaching, research, or experimentation conducted pursuant to a protocol or procedure approved by an educational or research institution, and related incidental animal care activities, at facilities that are regulated under 7 USC 2131 to 2159 or 42 USC 289d.

(b) Bona fide scientific research involving species unregulated by federal law.

<<For credits, see Historical Note field.>>

HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES

Source:
L.1973, c. 314, §&ensp6, eff. June 29, 1974.

1983 Act 27, §&ensp2202(38)(d), eff. July 2, 1983.

1987 Act 332, §&ensp54, eff. July 1, 1989.

1997 Act 248, §&ensp777, eff. Jan. 1, 1999 .

2001 Act 56, §§&ensp232, 233, eff. Jan. 1, 2003 .

2011 Act 32, §&ensp3539g, eff. July 1, 2011 .

2011 Legislation:
2011 Act 32 created subsec. (3).

2001 Act 56 renumbered the section text as subsec. (1) and created subsec. (2).

951.02. Mistreating animals

No person may treat any animal, whether belonging to the person or another, in a cruel manner. This section does not prohibit normal and accepted veterinary practices.

<<For credits, see Historical Note field.>>

HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES

L.1973, c. 314, §&ensp6, eff. June 29, 1974.

1987 Act 332, §&ensp54, eff. July 1, 1989.

1993 Act 486, §&ensp659, eff. June 11, 1994 .

2011 Act 32, §&ensp3539m, eff. July 1, 2011 .

951.025. Decompression prohibited

No person may kill an animal by means of decompression.

1985 Act 48, § 1, eff. Nov. 13, 1985.
St.1985, § 948.025.
1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.

951.03. Dognapping and catnapping

No person may take the dog or cat of another from one place to another without the owner's consent or cause such a dog or cat to be confined or carried out of this state or held for any purpose without the owner's consent. This section does not apply to law enforcement officers or humane officers engaged in the exercise of their official duties.

L.1969, c. 493, eff. March 22, 1970.
St.1971, § 943.203.
L.1973, c. 314, § 4, eff. June 29, 1974.
St.1985, § 948.03.
1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.
1997 Act 192, § 22, eff. Dec. 1, 1999.

951.04. Leading animal from motor vehicle

No person shall lead any animal upon a highway from a motor vehicle or from a trailer or semitrailer drawn by a motor vehicle.

L.1957, c. 260, § 1.
L.1957, c. 451, §§ 1, 2.
L.1957, c. 514, § 11.
L.1957, c. 674, §§ 37, 38.
L.1959, c. 205.
L.1961, c. 86, § 1.
L.1961, c. 384, § 2.
L.1961, c. 621, § 28.
St.1971, § 346.94(3).
L.1973, c. 314, § 2, eff. June 29, 1974.
St.1985, § 948.04.
1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.

951.05. Transportation of animals

No person may transport any animal in or upon any vehicle in a cruel manner.

L.1955, c. 696, § 1.
St.1955, § 947.10.
L.1973, c. 314, § 6, eff. June 29, 1974.
St.1973, § 948.05.
St.1985, § 948.05.
1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.

951.06. Use of poisonous and controlled substances

No person may expose any domestic animal owned by another to any known poisonous substance, any controlled substance included in schedule I, II, III, IV or V of ch. 961, or any controlled substance analog of a controlled substance included in schedule I or II of ch. 961, whether mixed with meat or other food or not, so that the substance is liable to be eaten by the animal and for the purpose of harming the animal. This section shall not apply to poison used on one's own premises and designed for the purpose of rodent or pest extermination nor to the use of a controlled substance in accepted veterinary practices.

<<For credits, see Historical Note field.>>

HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES

L.1973, c. 314, §&ensp6, eff. June 29, 1974.

1987 Act 332, §&ensp54, eff. July 1, 1989.

1995 Act 448, §&ensp461, eff. July 9, 1996 .

2011 Act 32, §&ensp3539s, eff. July 1, 2011.

2017 Act 365, §&ensp111, eff. April 18, 2018.

951.07. Use of certain devices prohibited

No person may directly or indirectly, or by aiding, abetting or permitting the doing thereof, either put, place, fasten, use or fix upon or to any animal used or readied for use for a work purpose or for use in an exhibition, competition, rodeo, circus or other performance, any of the following devices: a bristle bur, tack bur or like device or a poling device used to train a horse to jump which is charged with electricity or to which have been affixed nails, tacks or other sharp points.

L.1973, c. 314, § 6, eff. June 29, 1974.
St.1985, § 948.07.
1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.

951.08. Instigating fights between animals

(1) No person may intentionally instigate, promote, aid or abet as a principal, agent or employee, or participate in the earnings from, or intentionally maintain or allow any place to be used for a cockfight, dog fight, bullfight or other fight between the same or different kinds of animals or between an animal and a person. This section does not prohibit events or exhibitions commonly featured at rodeos or bloodless bullfights.

(2) No person may own, possess, keep or train any animal with the intent that the animal be engaged in an exhibition of fighting.

(2m) If a person has been convicted under sub. (1) or (2), the person may not own, possess, keep or train any animal for a period of 5 years after the conviction. In computing the 5-year period, time which the person spent in actual confinement serving a criminal sentence shall be excluded. The person may move the sentencing court to have this requirement waived. The court may waive the requirement except that the waiver may not authorize the person to own, possess, keep or train animals of the species involved in the offense under sub. (1) or (2).

(3) No person may intentionally be a spectator at a cockfight, dog fight, bullfight or other fight between the same or different kinds of animals or between an animal and a person.

L.1955, c. 696, § 1.
St.1955, § 947.10.
L.1971, c. 114, § 1.
L.1973, c. 314, § 6, eff. June 29, 1974.
St.1973, § 948.08.
L.1981, c. 160, §§ 1, 2, eff. April 9, 1982.
1983 Act 95, § 1, eff. Dec. 4, 1983.
St.1985, § 948.08.
1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.
1999 Act 185, § 193(1), eff. Sept. 1, 2000.

951.09. Shooting at caged or staked animals

(1) No person may shoot, kill, or wound with a firearm, or with any deadly weapon, any animal that is tied, staked out, caged or otherwise intentionally confined in an artificial enclosure, regardless of size.

(a) Whoever is concerned in the commission of a violation of this section is a principal and may be charged with and convicted of the violation although he or she did not directly commit it and although the person who directly committed it has not been convicted of the violation.

(b) A person is concerned in the commission of a violation of this section under par. (a) if the person does any of the following:

1. Instigates, promotes, aids, or abets the violation as a principal, agent, employee, participant, or spectator.

2. Participates in any earnings from the commission of the violation.

3. Intentionally maintains or allows any place to be used for the commission of the violation.

(3) This section does not apply to any of the following animals:

(b) A captive wild bird that is shot, killed, or wounded on a bird hunting preserve licensed under s. 169.19.

(c) Farm-raised deer, as defined in s. 95.001(1)(ag).

(d) Animals that are treated in accordance with normally acceptable husbandry practices.

L.1973, c. 314, §&ensp6, eff. June 29, 1974.

1987 Act 332, §&ensp54, eff. July 1, 1989.

1999 Act 185, §&ensp193(1), eff. Sept. 1, 2000 .

2001 Act 56, §§&ensp234 to 236, eff. Jan. 1, 2003 .

2001 Act 56 renumbered and amended the section text as subsec. (1) and created subsecs. (2) and (3).

1999 Act 185, §&ensp193 provides:

“(1)&enspWherever ‘employe’, ‘employes', ‘employe's' or ‘employes'&thinsp’ appear in the statutes, ‘employee’, ‘employees', ‘employee's' or ‘employees'&thinsp’ are substituted.

“(2)&enspNotwithstanding subsection (1), any person may use either spelling of these terms for any official purpose.”

951.095. Harassment of police and fire animals

(1) No person may do any of the following to any animal that is used by a law enforcement agency or fire department to perform agency or department functions or duties:

(a) Frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse or harass the animal.

(b) Strike, shove, kick or otherwise subject the animal to physical contact.

(c) Strike the animal by using a dangerous weapon.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to any of the following:

(a) Any act that is performed by or with the authorization of the animal's handler or rider.

(b) Any act that is necessary for the training of an animal to perform functions or duties for a law enforcement agency.

1993 Act 192, §&ensp1, eff. April 21, 1994 .

1997 Act 27, §§&ensp5346f, 5346g, eff. Oct. 14, 1997 .

1997 Act 27 amended the section title and subsec. (1)(intro.).

1997 Act 27, §&ensp9356 (2d) provides:

“Penalties for harassment of fire animals.&emspThe treatment of sections 951.01(3f) , 951.095(title) and (1)(intro.) and 951.18(2m) of the statutes applies to offenses occurring on or after the effective date [Oct. 14, 1997] of this subsection.”

951.097. Harassment of service dogs

(a) Any person may provide notice to another person in any manner that the latter person's behavior is interfering with the use of a service dog and may request that the latter person stop engaging in that behavior.

(b) No person, after receiving a notice and request under par. (a) regarding a service dog, may do any of the following:

1. Recklessly interfere with the use of the service dog by obstructing or intimidating it or otherwise jeopardizing its safety or the safety of its user.

2. Intentionally interfere with the use of the service dog by obstructing or intimidating it or otherwise jeopardizing its safety or the safety of its user.

(a) No person may recklessly allow his or her dog to interfere with the use of a service dog by obstructing or intimidating it or otherwise jeopardizing its safety or the safety of its user.

(b) No person may intentionally allow his or her dog to interfere with the use of a service dog by obstructing or intimidating it or otherwise jeopardizing its safety or the safety of its user.

(a) No person may recklessly injure a service dog or recklessly allow his or her dog to injure a service dog.

(b) No person may intentionally injure a service dog or intentionally allow his or her dog to injure a service dog.

(a) No person may recklessly cause the death of a service dog.

(b) No person may intentionally cause the death of a service dog.

(5) No person may take possession of or exert control over a service dog without the consent of its owner or user and with the intent to deprive another of the use of the service dog.

2005 Act 353, § 2, eff. May 3, 2006.

951.10. Sale of baby rabbits, chicks and other fowl

(1) No person may sell, offer for sale, barter or give away living chicks, ducklings or other fowl unless the person provides proper brooder facilities for the care of such chicks, ducklings or other fowl during the time they are in the person's possession.

(2) No retailer, as defined in s. 100.30(2)(e), may sell, offer for sale, barter or give away living baby rabbits, baby chicks, ducklings or other fowl under 2 months of age in any quantity less than 6 unless in the business of selling these animals for agricultural, wildlife or scientific purposes.

L.1973, c. 314, § 6, eff. June 29, 1974.
L.1979, c. 34, § 2102, eff. July 29, 1979.
L.1979, c. 176, § 204, eff. May 3, 1980.
1983 Act 189, § 329(20), eff. April 10, 1984.
St.1985, § 948.10.
1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.
1993 Act 486, § 660, eff. June 11, 1994.

1993 Act 486 amended subsec. (1).

951.11. Artificially colored animals sale

No person may sell, offer for sale, raffle, give as a prize or premium, use as an advertising device or display living chicks, ducklings, other fowl or rabbits that have been dyed or otherwise colored artificially.

L.1973, c. 314, § 6, eff. June 29, 1974.

1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.

951.13. Providing proper food and drink to confined animals

No person owning or responsible for confining or impounding any animal may fail to supply the animal with a sufficient supply of food and water as prescribed in this section.

(1) Food. The food shall be sufficient to maintain all animals in good health.

(2) Water. If potable water is not accessible to the animals at all times, it shall be provided daily and in sufficient quantity for the health of the animal.

L.1955, c. 696, § 1.
St.1955, § 947.10.
L.1961, c. 665.
L.1973, c. 314, § 6, eff. June 29, 1974.
St.1973, § 948.13.
1983 Act 95, § 2, eff. Dec. 4, 1983.
St.1985, § 948.13.
1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.

951.14. Providing proper shelter

No person owning or responsible for confining or impounding any animal may fail to provide the animal with proper shelter as prescribed in this section. In the case of farm animals, nothing in this section shall be construed as imposing shelter requirements or standards more stringent than normally accepted husbandry practices in the particular county where the animal or shelter is located.

(1) Indoor standards. Minimum indoor standards of shelter shall include:

(a) Ambient temperatures. The ambient temperature shall be compatible with the health of the animal.

(b) Ventilation. Indoor housing facilities shall be adequately ventilated by natural or mechanical means to provide for the health of the animals at all times.

(2) Outdoor standards. Minimum outdoor standards of shelter shall include:

(a) Shelter from sunlight. When sunlight is likely to cause heat exhaustion of an animal tied or caged outside, sufficient shade by natural or artificial means shall be provided to protect the animal from direct sunlight. As used in this paragraph, "caged" does not include farm fencing used to confine farm animals.

(b) Shelter from inclement weather.

1. Animals generally. Natural or artificial shelter appropriate to the local climatic conditions for the species concerned shall be provided as necessary for the health of the animal.

2. Dogs. If a dog is tied or confined unattended outdoors under weather conditions which adversely affect the health of the dog, a shelter of suitable size to accommodate the dog shall be provided.

(3) Space standards. Minimum space requirements for both indoor and outdoor enclosures shall include:

(a) Structural strength. The housing facilities shall be structurally sound and maintained in good repair to protect the animals from injury and to contain the animals.

(b) Space requirements. Enclosures shall be constructed and maintained so as to provide sufficient space to allow each animal adequate freedom of movement. Inadequate space may be indicated by evidence of debility, stress or abnormal behavior patterns.

(4) Sanitation standards. Minimum standards of sanitation for both indoor and outdoor enclosures shall include periodic cleaning to remove excreta and other waste materials, dirt and trash so as to minimize health hazards.

L.1955, c. 696, § 1.
St.1955, § 947.10.
L.1961, c. 665.
L.1973, c. 314, § 6, eff. June 29, 1974.
St.1973, § 948.14.
St.1985, § 948.14.
1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.

951.15. Abandoning animals

No person may abandon any animal.

L.1909, c. 40.
St.1911, § 1636r.
L.1919, c. 359, § 1.
L.1923, c. 291, § 3.
St.1923, § 175.03.
L.1949, c. 262.
L.1955, c. 696, § 38.
St.1955, § 173.31.
L.1969, c. 459, § 7, eff. March 15, 1970.
St.1971, § 173.31.
L.1973, c. 314, §§ 1, 6, eff. June 29, 1974.
L.1977, c. 173, § 164, eff. June 1, 1978.
St.1985, § 948.15.
1987 Act 332, § 54, eff. July 1, 1989.
1993 Act 486, § 661, eff. June 11, 1994.
1997 Act 192, §§ 23 to 25, eff. Dec. 1, 1999.

1997 Act 192 repealed and recreated the section title renumbered subsec. (1) as this section and repealed subsecs. (2) to (4).

1993 Act 486 amended subsec. (4).

951.16. Renumbered 173.10 by 1997 Act 192, § 26, eff. Dec. 1, 1999

951.162. Renumbered in part § 173.12 and repealed in part by 1997 Act 192, §§ 27, 28, eff. Dec. 1, 1999

951.165. Renumbered 173.12 and amended by 1997 Act 192, § 29, eff. Dec. 1, 1999

951.17. Renumbered 173.24 and amended by 1997 Act 192, § 30, eff. Dec. 1, 1999

951.18. Penalties

(1) Any person violating s. 951.02, 951.025, 951.03, 951.04, 951.05, 951.06, 951.07, 951.09, 951.10, 951.11, 951.13, 951.14 or 951.15 is subject to a Class C forfeiture. Any person who violates any of these provisions within 3 years after a humane officer issues an abatement order under s. 173.11 prohibiting the violation of that provision is subject to a Class A forfeiture. Any person who intentionally or negligently violates any of those sections is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Any person who intentionally violates s. 951.02, resulting in the mutilation, disfigurement or death of an animal, is guilty of a Class I felony. Any person who intentionally violates s. 951.02 or 951.06, knowing that the animal that is the victim is used by a law enforcement agency to perform agency functions or duties and causing injury to the animal, is guilty of a Class I felony.

(2) Any person who violates s. 951.08(2m) or (3) is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Any person who violates s. 951.08(1) or (2) is guilty of a Class I felony for the first violation and is guilty of a Class H felony for the 2nd or subsequent violation.

(2m) Any person who violates s. 951.095 is subject to a Class B forfeiture. Any person who intentionally or negligently violates s. 951.095, knowing that the animal that is the victim is used by a law enforcement agency or fire department to perform agency or department functions or duties, is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Any person who intentionally violates s. 951.095, knowing that the animal that is the victim is used by a law enforcement agency or fire department to perform agency or department functions or duties and causing injury to the animal, is guilty of a Class I felony. Any person who intentionally violates s. 951.095, knowing that the animal that is the victim is used by a law enforcement agency or fire department to perform agency or department functions or duties and causing death to the animal, is guilty of a Class H felony.

(2s) Any person who violates s. 951.097(1)(b)1. or (2)(a), knowing that the dog that is the victim is a service dog, is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Any person who violates s. 951.097(1)(b)2., (2)(b), or (3)(a), knowing that the dog that is the victim is a service dog, is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Any person who violates s. 951.097(3)(b) or (4)(a), knowing that the dog that is the victim is a service dog, is guilty of a Class I felony. Any person who violates s. 951.097(4)(b) or (5), knowing that the dog that is the victim is a service dog, is guilty of a Class H felony.

(3) In addition to penalties applicable to this chapter under this section, a district attorney may apply to any court of competent jurisdiction for a temporary or permanent injunction restraining any person from violating this chapter.

(4) In addition to penalties applicable to this chapter under this section:

1. In this paragraph, "pecuniary loss" means any of the following:

a. All special damages, but not general damages, including the money equivalent of loss resulting from property taken, destroyed, broken, or otherwise harmed and out-of-pocket losses, such as medical expenses.

b. Reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the victim resulting from the filing of charges or cooperating in the investigation and prosecution of an offense under this chapter.

c. Expenses in keeping any animal that is involved in the crime.

d. In a case under s. 951.095 or 951.097, the value of a replacement animal, if the affected animal is incapacitated or dead the cost of training a replacement animal or the cost of retraining the affected animal. The court shall base any determination of the value of a replacement service dog on the value of the service dog to the user and not on its cost or fair market value.

e. In a case under s. 951.095 or 951.097, all related veterinary and care expenses.

f. In a case under s. 951.095 or 951.097, the medical expenses of the animal's user, the cost of training the animal's user, and compensation for income lost by the animal's user.

2. A sentencing court shall require a criminal violator to pay restitution to a person, including any local humane officer or society or county or municipal pound or a law enforcement officer or conservation warden, for any pecuniary loss suffered by the person as a result of the crime. This requirement applies regardless of whether the criminal violator is placed on probation under s. 973.09. If restitution is ordered, the court shall consider the financial resources and future ability of the criminal violator to pay and shall determine the method of payment. Upon the application of any interested party, the court shall schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing to determine the value of any pecuniary loss under this paragraph.

1. A sentencing court may order that an animal be delivered to the local humane officer or society or the county or municipal pound or to a law enforcement officer if a person commits a crime under this chapter, the person is the owner of the animal that is involved in the crime and the court considers the order to be reasonable and appropriate. A sentencing court may order that an animal be delivered to the department of natural resources, if the animal is a wild animal that is subject to regulation under ch. 169 and the court considers the order to be reasonable and appropriate. The society, pound or, officer or department of natural resources shall release the animal to a person other than the owner or dispose of the animal in a proper and humane manner. If the animal is a dog, the release or disposal shall be in accordance with s. 173.23(1m), except that the fees under s. 173.23(1m)(a)4. do not apply if the expenses are covered under s. 173.24. If the animal is not a dog, the society, pound or officer may charge a fee for the release of the animal.

2. If the court is sentencing a person covered under s. 173.12 (3)(a) and an animal has been seized under s. 173.12, the court shall act in accordance with s. 173.12 (3).

(c) Except as provided in s. 951.08(2m), a sentencing court may order that the criminal violator may not own, possess or train any animal or type or species of animal for a period specified by the court, but not to exceed 5 years. In computing the time period, time which the person spent in actual confinement serving a sentence shall be excluded.

L.1973, c. 314, §&ensp6, eff. June 29, 1974.

L.1977, c. 173, §&ensp165, eff. June 1, 1978.

L.1981, c. 160, §&ensp5, eff. April 9, 1982.

1983 Act 95, §§&ensp5, 7, eff. Dec. 4, 1983.

1985 Act 48, §&ensp2, eff. Nov. 13, 1985.

1985 Act 263, §&ensp1, eff. April 30, 1986.

1987 Act 248, §&ensp3, eff. April 21, 1988.

1987 Act 332, §§&ensp54, 64(1), eff. July 1, 1989.

1987 Act 403, §&ensp256, eff. June 7, 1988.

1989 Act 56, §&ensp259, eff. Nov. 16, 1989 .

1989 Act 223, §&ensp2, eff. April 28, 1990 .

1993 Act 192, §&ensp2, eff. April 21, 1994 .

1997 Act 27, §&ensp5346h, eff. Oct. 14, 1997 .

1997 Act 192, §&ensp31, eff. Dec. 1, 1999 .

2001 Act 56, §§&ensp237, 238, eff. Jan. 1, 2003 .

2001 Act 109, §§&ensp941 to 943, eff. Feb. 1, 2003 .

2005 Act 353, §§&ensp3 to 11, eff. May 3, 2006 .

2005 Act 353, §&ensp4, eff. May 3, 2006 .

2015 Act 233, §&ensp26s, eff. March 3, 2016 .

Crimes (Ch. 938 to 951). Chapter 944. Crimes Against Sexual Morality. Subchapter III. Fornication Adultery Gratification.

944.18. Bestiality

(1) Definitions. In this section:

(a) “Animal” means any creature, either alive or dead, except a human being.

(b) “Obscene material” has the meaning given in s. 944.21(2)(c).

(c) “Photograph or film” means the making of a photograph, motion picture film, video tape, digital image, or any other recording.

(d) “Sexual contact” means any of the following types of contact that is not an accepted veterinary medical practice, an accepted animal husbandry practice that provides care for animals, an accepted practice related to the insemination of animals for the purpose of procreation, or an accepted practice related to conformation judging:

1. An act between a person and an animal involving physical contact between the sex organ, genitals, or anus of one and the mouth, sex organ, genitals, or anus of the other.

2. Any touching or fondling by a person, either directly or through clothing, of the sex organ, genitals, or anus of an animal or any insertion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or any object into the vaginal or anal opening of an animal.

3. Any insertion, however slight, of any part of an animal's body into the vaginal or anal opening of a person.

(2) Prohibited conduct. No person may knowingly do any of the following:

(a) Engage in sexual contact with an animal.

(b) Advertise, offer, accept an offer, sell, transfer, purchase, or otherwise obtain an animal with the intent that it be used for sexual contact in this state.

(c) Organize, promote, conduct, or participate as an observer of an act involving sexual contact with an animal.

(d) Permit sexual contact with an animal to be conducted on any premises under his or her ownership or control.

(e) Photograph or film obscene material depicting a person engaged in sexual contact with an animal.

(f) Distribute, sell, publish, or transmit obscene material depicting a person engaged in sexual contact with an animal.

(g) Possess with the intent to distribute, sell, publish, or transmit obscene material depicting a person engaged in sexual contact with an animal.

(h) Force, coerce, entice, or encourage a child who has not attained the age of 13 years to engage in sexual contact with an animal.

(i) Engage in sexual contact with an animal in the presence of a child who has not attained the age of 13 years.

(j) Force, coerce, entice, or encourage a child who has attained the age of 13 years but who has not attained the age of 18 years to engage in sexual contact with an animal.

(k) Engage in sexual contact with an animal in the presence of a child who has attained the age of 13 years but who has not attained the age of 18 years.

(3) Penalties. (a) Any person who violates sub. (2) (a) to (g) is guilty of a Class H felony for the first violation and is guilty of a Class F felony for a 2nd or subsequent violation or if the act results bodily harm or death of an animal. Any person who violates sub. (2)(h) or (i) is guilty of a Class F felony for the first violation and is guilty of a Class D felony for a 2nd or subsequent violation. Any person who violates sub. (2)(j) or (k) is guilty of a Class G felony for the first violation and is guilty of a Class E felony for a 2nd or subsequent violation.

(c) If a person has been convicted under sub. (2), the sentencing court shall order, in addition to any other applicable penalties, all of the following:

1. That the person may not own, possess, reside with, or exercise control over any animal or engage in any occupation, whether paid or unpaid, at any place where animals are kept or cared for, for not less than 5 years or more than 15 years. In computing the time period, time which the person spent in actual confinement serving a criminal sentence shall be excluded.

2. That the person shall submit to a psychological assessment and participate in appropriate counseling at the person's expense.

3. That the person shall pay restitution to a person, including any local humane officer or society or county or municipal pound or a law enforcement officer or conservation warden or his or her designee, for any pecuniary loss suffered by the person as a result of the crime. This requirement applies regardless of whether the person is placed on probation under s. 973.09. If restitution is ordered, the court shall consider the financial resources and future ability of the person to pay and shall determine the method of payment. Upon application of an interested party, the court shall schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing to determine the value of any pecuniary loss, as defined in s. 951.18(4)(a)1., under this subdivision.

(4) Severability. The provisions of this section are severable, as provided in s. 990.001(11).

HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES
Source:
2019 Act 162, §&ensp14, eff. March 5, 2020.


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