In 1641, the Massachusetts Bay Colony enacted America’s first animal cruelty law. A section of the Body of Liberties decreed that “no man shall exercise any Tirranny or Crueltie towards any Bruite creature which are usuallie kept for man’s use.”[1] Despite this long history, many communities at least tolerate animal cruelty.

Today, most of New York’s animal cruelty laws are in Article 353 of the Agriculture and Markets Law. Almost all these violations are misdemeanors. That could mean up to a year in jail, along with a substantial fine. Additionally, these offenses are usually crimes of moral turpitude. So, a conviction could have substantial collateral consequences.

If you face these charges, you need an effective defense attorney Rochester, NY. Most New York animal cruelty laws are quite subjective, so they are difficult to prove in court. And, since these offenses are misdemeanors, the state must prove every element of every offense beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s the highest-burden on proof in New York law.

1. Animal Neglect and Abuse Requiring a Defense Attorney Rochester NY

This offense might be the most commonly charged misdemeanor animal cruelty law in New York. Several provisions in the Agriculture and Markets law prohibit a wide range of activities, such as:

  • Overworking,
  • Cruelly beating,
  • Torturing,
  • Failing to provide food or water,
  • Cruelly carrying an animal,
  • Placing objects on the street, like glass or nails, that could injure animals, and
  • Injuring without justification.

Some of these offenses have some built-in defenses. For example, there is a difference between beating an animal and cruelly beating an animal.

On a related note, dogfighting and cockfighting could be a misdemeanor, depending on the defendant’s level of participation. Watching and betting is not as bad as sponsoring or breeding.

2. General Abandonment

It is a misdemeanor to abandon animals who are so unhealthy or injured that they might not live much longer. Individuals may abandon healthy animals when they relocate or if the animals are incorrigible. Such conduct might arguably be immoral, but there is a difference between illegal and immoral. Jurors often blur this line, so a defense attorney Rochester, NY must clearly draw it.

3. Automobile Abandonment

Animal abandonment law in New York is a bit complex. It is a misdemeanor to abandon an animal in a vehicle if the weather is extremely hot or extremely cold. If the outside temperature is 85, temperatures inside the car exceed 130 degrees after twelve minutes.[2] If authorities respond, they are not liable for any injury the animal sustains or any damages the owner suffers.

4. Unsheltered Animals

This law is complex as well. If an animal, usually a dog, is outside with no way to get in and the weather turns bad, the animal must usually have the following:

  • Waterproof roof,
  • Shade,
  • Insulation, and
  • Movement room.

“Bad weather” could include rain, heat, snow, wind, and almost anything other than clear and 75 degrees. In these cases and other animal cruelty cases, authorities have the right to permanently seize the afflicted animal.

5. Declawing, Tattooing, Piercing, and Clipping

Did you know it’s against the law in New York to declaw a cat unless the procedure is medically necessary? It is also illegal to tattoo a dog except for identity purposes. And, only veterinarians can clip dog ears, only if the animals are sedated.

Reach Out to Frank Ciardi Law, Defense Attorney Rochester NY

New York has a diverse array of animal cruelty laws. For a free consultation with an experienced defense attorney Rochester, NY contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Convenient payment plans are available.




The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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