Cruelty to Animals: ARS 13-2910 Get the peace of mind that comes with an elite defense. Call Stewart Salwin.

Cruelty to Animals in Arizona: ARS 13-2910

What is Cruelty to Animals?

A.R.S. § 13-2910 punishes cruelty to animals and interference with working or service animals. There are a wide variety of situations in which this crime can be charged, such as failing to provide medical attention or inflicting unnecessary physical harm. Depending on the nature of the animal cruelty charges, ARS 13-2910 may be punishable as a class 1 misdemeanor, a class 6 felony, or a class 5 felony.

A.R.S. § 13-2910 Defined

Under ARS 13-2910, a person commits cruelty to animals if the person does any of the following:

  • Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly subjects any animal under the person's custody or control to cruel neglect or abandonment. Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly fails to provide medical attention necessary to prevent protracted suffering to any animal under the person's custody or control. Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly inflicts unnecessary physical injury to any animal. Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Recklessly subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment. Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly kills any animal under the custody or control of another person without either legal privilege or consent of the owner. Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Recklessly interferes with, kills or harms a working or service animal without either legal privilege or consent of the owner. Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly leaves an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle and physical injury to or death of the animal is likely to result. Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Intentionally or knowingly subjects any animal under the person's custody or control to cruel neglect or abandonment that results in serious physical injury to the animal. Class 6 felony
  • Intentionally or knowingly subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment. Class 6 felony
  • Intentionally or knowingly interferes with, kills or harms a working or service animal without either legal privilege or consent of the owner. Class 6 felony
  • Intentionally or knowingly allows any dog that is under the person's custody or control to interfere with, kill or cause physical injury to a service animal. Class 6 felony
  • Recklessly allows any dog that is under the person's custody or control to interfere with, kill or cause physical injury to a service animal. Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Intentionally or knowingly obtains or exerts unauthorized control over a service animal with the intent to deprive the service animal handler of the service animal. Class 6 felony
  • Intentionally or knowingly subjects a domestic animal to cruel mistreatment. Class 5 felony
  • Intentionally or knowingly kills a domestic animal without either legal privilege or consent of the domestic animal's owner or handler. Class 5 felony
  • Intentionally or knowingly harasses a working animal that is in a law enforcement vehicle or trailer without either legal privilege or consent of the owner. Class 1 misdemeanor

Important Definitions

  • "Cruel Neglect" is defined as failing to provide an animal with necessary food, water, or shelter.
  • "Cruel Mistreatment" means to torture or inflict unnecessary physical injury to an animal that causes the animal "protracted suffering."
  • "Service Animal" means an animal that has completed a formal training program, that assists its owner in one or more daily living tasks that are associated with a productive lifestyle and that is trained to not pose a danger to the health and safety of the general public.
  • "Working Animal" is a horse or dog that is used by a law enforcement agency, that is specially trained for law enforcement work and that is under the control of a handler.
  • "Harass" means to engage in conduct that a reasonable person would expect to impede or interfere with a working animal's performance of its duties.

What Happens if I Leave My Dog in the Car?

ARS 13-2910(A)(7) makes it unlawful for a person to leave an animal "unattended" and "confined" in a car and "physical injury or death" is likely to result. We see this when a person leaves their dog in the car with the windows rolled up in over-100-degree heat during the Arizona summer. This doesn't mean that leaving your animal in a car is illegal per se: rolling the windows down in the car and leaving water for the animal would be facts that could be used to defend on these charges. The temperature at the time would also be an important factor, and whether it was day or night.

Penalties for Animal Cruelty

The penalties for a conviction under ARS 13-2910 depend on whether it is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor, a class 6 felony, or a class 5 felony.

Penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor

  • Maximum sentence of 6 months' jail

Penalties for a class 6 felony

  • With no prior felonies: probation or .33 to 2 years in prison
  • With one prior felony: .75 to 2.75 years in prison
  • With two prior felonies: 2.25 to 5.75 years in prison

Penalties for a class 5 felony

  • With no prior felonies: probation or .5 to 2.5 years in prison
  • With one prior felony: 1 to 3.75 years in prison
  • With two prior felonies: 3 to 7.5 years in prison

Defenses to Cruelty to Animals

  • Not Intentional/knowing/reckless: Most of the subsections of ARS 13-2910 require that the defendant possess a state of mind that is either intentional, knowing, or reckless. In other words, an action that might otherwise fall into a "cruelty to animals" category is not a crime if it can be shown that the defendant acted reasonably, and the cruelty was not intentional. This is usually a fact-intensive inquiry, where the circumstances of the incident are presented to show that it was an accident and the defendant should not be held at fault.
  • Protecting Livestock: ARS 13-2910 provides a defense to animal cruelty charges if a person exposes poison to protect their livestock from a dog or predatory animals. Proper signage must be posted to provide warning that defendant's property contains poison.

How Salwin Law Group Can Help You

If you have been charged with animal cruelty, an experienced defense attorney can help defend you. We offer free consultation and can discuss your case with you today. Together we can help you get your life back.

Call Salwin Law Group PLLC today at (480) 470-6119, or contact us online to make your appointment.

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