For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 11

(5) Veterinarians, veterinarian technicians and
humane society police officers are provided
with statutory immunity from actions for
civil damages in certain cases.
The purpose of this article is to shed
some light on some of the more significant
changes to the Cruelty to Animals statutes in
the Commonwealth. Be aware that it is not
a comprehensive overview of this practice
area. There are procedural quirks, substantial
penalties and collateral consequences that may
apply in many of the prosecutions that are
brought under the animal cruelty statutes that
simply cannot be addressed in an article of this
length. Any practitioner wading into this area
of the law should be able to recognize, identify
and appreciate the pitfalls to avoid, including
exposing a client to a jail sentence, significant
financial penalties, forfeiture of their animals
and/or loss of kennel license.
With that in mind, let us examine some of the
changes.
	

Animal Abuse Under the Formal
Statute

The former Cruelty to Animals statute7 was
structured such that any person who wantonly
or cruelly ill-treated, overloaded, beat, otherwise
abused any animal, or neglected any animal as
to which they had a duty of care, committed a
summary offense. If a person was convicted a
second or subsequent time of that offense, it was
graded as a misdemeanor of the third degree if
the act or omission involved a dog or cat and the
dog or cat was seriously injured, suffered severe
physical distress or was placed at imminent risk of
serious physical harm as the result of the person's
action or omission.
Other offenses (e.g. the killing, maiming
or poisoning domestic animals or zoo animals;
injuries to guide dogs; and animal fighting)
were enumerated as specific subsections in
the statute and were graded as misdemeanors
or felonies, depending on the nature of the
violation. However, it is believed that the bulk of
the prosecutions under the "Cruelty to Animals"
statute fell under the "Cruelty to Animals"
subsection noted above.8

Prosecutions under the former statute often
focused on whether your client's conduct met
the "wanton or cruel" culpability requirement.
Wanton conduct required an intentional act
of an unreasonable character, in disregard of a
risk known to the actor or so obvious that he
must be taken to have been aware of it and so
great as to make it highly probable that harm
would follow. It was usually accompanied by
a conscious indifference to the consequences.9
"Cruel" conduct was defined as "the intentional
and malicious infliction of mental or physical
suffering on a living creature."10 Prosecutors
could prove a case by establishing either
"wanton" or "cruel" conduct; they were not
required to prove both wanton and cruel
conduct.11
	

Animal Abuse Under the New
Statute 	

The new statutory scheme includes three
separate sections of cruelty violations: Neglect;12
Cruelty;13 and Aggravated Cruelty.14 These new
offenses collectively comprise what is commonly
referred to as "Libre's Law."
Neglect
"Neglect of animal"15 requires proof that
your client failed to provide any of the following
for each animal to which they had a duty of
care, whether belonging to them or otherwise;
(1) necessary sustenance and potable water;
(2) access to clean and sanitary shelter and
protection from the weather (the shelter must
be sufficient for the animal to retain body heat
and to keep the animal dry); and, (3) necessary
veterinary care. No culpability level is specified
and the offense is graded as a summary offense
unless the violation caused bodily injury to the
animal or placed the animal at imminent risk of
serious bodily injury at which point it is graded
as a misdemeanor of the third degree.
The fine and term for summary offenses
committed under this chapter, unless otherwise
specified, ranges from a minimum fine of $50.00
to a maximum of $750.00 and/or no more than
90 days in jail.

Vol. 3, Issue 1

l

For The Defense

11



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018

Contents
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 1
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 2
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - Contents
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 4
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 5
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 6
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 7
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 8
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 9
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 10
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 11
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 12
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 13
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 14
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 15
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 16
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 17
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 18
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 19
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 20
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 21
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 22
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 23
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 24
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 25
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 26
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 27
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 28
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 29
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 30
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 31
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 32
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 33
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 34
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 35
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For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 56
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