Saturday, May 4, 2013

Criminal liability for violations of the Humane Care for Animals Act

[This is Part 1 of series about the Illinois Humane Care of Animals Act.  The introductory post can be found HERE.]

The Humane Care for Animals Act contains varying degrees of criminal liability.  First, the Act outlines duties that all owners owe to their animals.  Each owner shall provide each of his animals sufficient food and water, adequate shelter and protection from the weather, and veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering.  Failure to provide these basic necessities can result in a Class B misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class 4 felony for each subsequent offense.

The Act also prohibits the cruel treatment of animals.  The Act provides that no owner shall beat, cruelly treat, torment, starve, overwork, or otherwise abuse any animal.  Nor may any owner abandon any animal where it may suffer injury, hunger, or exposure.  Violation of this Section is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class 4 felony for each subsequent offense.

There is also a section concerning aggravated cruelty to animals.  Aggravated cruelty is an intentional act that causes serious injury or death to an animal.  The first offense of aggravated cruelty is a Class 4 felony and subsequent offenses are Class 3 felonies.

The Act also provides for the seizure of animals if there are allegations of improper care, cruel treatment, or aggravated cruelty.  There is a procedure to obtain a hearing in front of a judge to determine whether the allegations are true. As I explained in the introductory post, what constitutes proper care and adequate shelter for animals is the subject of much debate. There is also a fine line between the discipline and training of an animal and cruelty.  The first step in the this process is usually the seizure of animals.  The next step will usually be misdemeanor or felony charges.  If you have any questions about potential criminal liability under the Illinois Humane Care of Animals Act, please send me a confidential email HERE.

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