5 State Approaches for Using Animal Societies to Enforce Animal Cruelty Statutes

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As I have noted in this blog on several occasions, duly incorporated animal societies in the State of New York have the authority to search and seize livestock.  This article does a nice job illustrating the five state law approaches with using animal societies to enforce livestock animal cruelty laws.

Ordinary Rights

The majority of states have this approach.  In these states, human societies play a traditional role of operating animal shelters and educating the community about animal abuse.  Human societies are not given police power.  States that have an ordinary rights approach include:  Alaska, Arizona, ArkansasColorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine,MississippiMissouri, Montana, NebraskaNew MexicoNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOklahomaTexas, Utah, West VirginiaWisconsin, and Wyoming.  Some states, such as Colorado, may regulate humane societies in some way such as the types of chemicals used in euthanasia.  Some of these states elect to have a separate enforcement mechanism via (1) a separate governmental agency (e.g., Colorado Bureau of Animal Protection), (2) appointment of specialized individuals (e.g., North Carolina, North Dakota, Illinois), and (3) appointment of full-time animal cruelty officers who are government employees (e.g., Texas).

Animal Rescue

States using the Animal Rescue approach include AlabamaFloridaKansasMinnesota, and New Hampshire.In these states, the human societies are called by law enforcement to seize allegedly abused animals and providing treatment.  These states do give human societies some limited police power with the ability to investigate animal cruelty cases; however, they are unable to obtain search warrants.

Limited Law Enforcement

States using a Limited Law Enforcement Approach include KentuckyNevadaSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennessee,VermontVirginia, and Washington.  In these states, human societies so investigate animal cruelty, seize animals and conduct searches; however, they still have limited police power.  For example, carrying firearms is typically prohibited nor do they have full arrest capabilities.

Law Enforcement

These states give humane societies full police power including the ability to search and seize livestock, investigate animal abuse, execute search warrants, issuing citations, and arresting individuals.  Typically, states using this approach also allow the humane societies to carry a firearm.  Statutes using this approach include Hawaii, California, New Jersey, PennsylvaniaRhode Island, and New York.

Community Policing

Indiana is the only state that uses the Community Policing approach.  Here, an active duty police officer is required to serve as the humane officer who is required to work with the humane society.  The humane officer retains all police powers but also investigates animal cruelty violations and enforces the law.  Interestingly, the humane officer is required to attend humane society meetings and give monthly reports.

Every state differs in its approach with livestock animal cruelty.  If you have specific questions on animal welfare laws in your states and the police power (if any) given to human societies such as SPCA, please contact an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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