Module 3: The Case of the Embedded Collar

Animal Abuse Laws

Defining and punishing animal neglect and cruelty is largely the responsibility of each state. Every state has an animal protection statute that defines animal abuse, whether the crimes are a misdemeanor or felony, and the punishment for conviction.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund hosts a website that provides the animal protection laws for each US state and territory. The Animal Legal Defense Fund ranks each state and territory based on strengths and weaknesses of their animal protection laws. The top tier states have 3 strengths and 2 weaknesses. The middle tier states have 2 strengths and 3 weaknesses. The bottom tier states have 1 strength and 4 weaknesses.



Is Florida ranked in the top tier, middle tier, or bottom tier  based on the strength of its animal protection laws?


Florida Statute 828

Florida Statute 828 contains laws regarding animal neglect and cruelty. According to this statute, “A veterinarian licensed to practice in the state shall be held harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decisions made or services rendered under the provisions of this section. Such a veterinarian is, therefore, under this subsection, immune from a lawsuit for his or her part in an investigation of cruelty to animals.”


Animal Abuse is a Crime Against Society

The FBI now categorizes animal abuse as a crime against society and tracks cases of neglect, intentional physical abuse, and organized abuse.


FBI – Animal Cruelty

The official FBI definition of animal cruelty is:

“Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of duty to provide care, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured, transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or injure an animal.”


This FBI categorization is significant because it affirms that animal abuse is recognized as a violent crime by the highest level of our government. Studies in the US and other nations have established the link between human and animal violence. Between 60-70% of people convicted of violent crimes began their criminal careers with acts of animal cruelty. Most serial killers started off with torturing animals.

Here is a short story about how the FBI will collect and use animal cruelty data.


FBI Tracks Animal Cruelty logo overlaid on a dog face


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