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Enforcement Powers Granted to Humane Societies by State



Cynthia Hodges, J.D., LL.M., M.A.



Publish Date:
2012
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law

Printable Version

Approximately 34 states have granted agents of humane societies the power to enforce anti-cruelty statutes. Humane officers’ enforcement powers vary by state, but include serving search warrants, seizing animals, and arresting offenders. Other powers include carrying firearms, issuing citations, seizing equipment used in animal-fighting, summoning by-standers to their aid, etc. Some states require that humane officers complete training and instruction in investigating animal cruelty cases, animal care and husbandry, laws and regulations related to animals, and weapons training. In other states, the humane officers’ powers are more limited, and they must act in concert with law enforcement officers to address violations of animal cruelty laws.
State Statutes Serve Search Warrant Seize Animals Arrest Offenders Training Required Miscellaneous Powers (i.e., carry firearm, seize equipment, investigatory powers, etc.)
Alabama

AL ST § 3-1-13

AL ST § 3-1-29

Not specified

May take charge of and provide care for any animal that is sick or disabled due to neglect or is being cruelly treated or abused

Not specified None None
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas

AR ST § 20-19-101

AR ST § 20-19-104


Not specified

Not specified

Not specified Voluntary certification program established by Department of Health and Human Services and with training administered by Arkansas Animal Control Association

None
California CA CORP § 14502

Level 1 and 2 humane officers may serve search warrants for a violation, but must provide prior notice to local law enforcement agencies


Not specified Level 1 and 2 humane officers may make arrests for violation

Level 1 and 2 humane officers:

  • 20 hours of training in animal care, the focus of which shall be the identification of disease, injury, and neglect in domestic animals and livestock
  • 40 hours of training in the state humane laws relating to the powers and duties of a humane officer
  • 40 hours of continuing education and training

Level 1: ongoing weapons training and range qualifications

Level 1 and 2 humane officers may use reasonable force necessary to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty upon any animal

Level 1 officers are authorized to carry firearms.



Colorado CO ST § 35-42-107 May issue summons and complaints


Not specified Not specified "Specified by the commissioner," but not specifically provided

May investigate cases



Connecticut CT ST § 29-108a - i

Not specified
  • May take charge of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated
  • May take charge of and humanely destroy any abandoned, lost, strayed or homeless animal or animal unsuitable for adoption upon veterinarian certification or owner's written consent

May arrest and detain any person violating the statutes concerning cruelty to animals


Not specified May interfere to prevent any act of cruelty upon any animal in his presence
Delaware DE ST TI 3 §§ 7901-7905

Not specifically provided, but may be able to serve search warrant pursuant to "other process" provision
May impound animal subjected to cruel mistreatment or cruel neglect in an S.P.C.A. shelter or veterinarian facility

May execute any warrant of arrest issued under cruelty to animal laws

Not specified None
D.C.
Florida

FL ST § 828.03

FL ST § 828.073

Not specified May take custody of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated

Not specified Not specified May order owner of animal found neglected or cruelly treated to provide care to the animal

Georgia
Hawaii HI ST § 711-1110 Not specified Not specified May arrest offenders and bring them before district judge

Not specified


None
Idaho
Illinois

IL ST CH 510 § 70/9 - 70/12

May enter premises other than residence during normal business hours where the animal(s) are housed or kept, except by search warrant or court order



  • May impound animal(s) with authorization from Department of Agriculture
  • May impound animal(s) and then notify Department in an emergency
Not specified

Not specified

  • May investigate a violation 
  • May furnish the violator with a notice of violation and state what action is necessary to come into compliance with this Act
Indiana IN ST § 36-8-3-18 Same as police officers
Same as police officers
Detect and arrest persons violating humane statutes


Same as police officers




File affidavits before a court charging the person violating the law with the violation (if directed by the president of the humane society)

Iowa
Kansas KS ST § 21-6412

Not specified May take into custody any animal which shows evidence of cruelty


Not specified Not specified
  • May inspect, care for or treat animal(s)
  • May place animal(s) in the care of a humane society or veterinarian for treatment, boarding or other care
  • May file a sworn complaint against perpetrator of cruelty to animals

Kentucky KY ST § 436.605

May search the premises pursuant to search warrant

Not specified Must summon a peace officer to arrest an offender

Not specified Have powers of peace officers, except for the power of arrest
Louisiana LA RS § 3:2391

LA RS § 2431

May remove animal if:

  • Cruelty is being practiced towards animal
  • Animal is bruised, wounded, crippled, abrased, sick, or diseased

Not specified Not specified Not specified Have the usual power of policemen and peace officers
Maine
Maryland

MD CRIM LAW § 10-609

MD CRIM LAW § 10-615

MD CRIM LAW § 10-616

Not specified May seize an animal to protect it animal from cruelty


If officer sees a person committing a misdemeanor that involves cruelty to an animal, s/he shall arrest offender and bring him or her before the District Court

Not specified An authorized director of a humane society may inspect kennel premises if accompanied by a sheriff or a deputy sheriff

Massachusetts

MA ST 22C § 57

MA ST 272 § 88

MA ST 272 § 89

May serve search warrant to search building or tenement at any hour of the day or night

May take possession of animals used for animal-fighting


  • May arrest and detain any person violating any law for the prevention of cruelty to animals
  • May arrest all persons on the premises where animal-fighting occurs or where such animals are kept without a warrant

Not specified
  • May, without a warrant, enter any premises used for animal- fighting
  • May take possession of all paraphernalia, implements, or equipment used for animal-fighting
Michigan

 

MCL § 750.54

MCL § 750.55


May search building or place where animal cruelty is suspected pursuant to search warrant


Not specified

May arrest any person

  • engaged in animal cruelty
  • aiding or abetting animal cruelty

Not specified
  • Have all the powers of a sheriff of the county to enforce animal cruelty laws
  • Shall seize every article or instrument designed or adapted to torture or inflict wounds upon any animal or to aid in the fighting or baiting of any animal


Minnesota

MN ST § 343.01

MN ST § 343.06

MN ST § 343.12

Not specified
  • Take possession of any animals that have been cruelly treated, and
  • Deliver them to the proper officers for custody and care
Duty to arrest any person violating cruelty to animals laws

Must have training and experience in activities relating to prevention of cruelty to animals or enforcement of laws relating to cruelty to animals

  • Assist in the enforcement of  laws for the prevention of wrongs to animals
  • Investigate any alleged violation of the law relative to cruelty to animals
Mississippi

MS ST § 97-41-2

Not specified Not specified Not specified Not specified May make arrangements for animal's care as temporary custodian of mistreated animal

Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada

NV ST § 574.040

NV ST § 574.055


Not specified May take possession of any animal that is being treated cruelly 
May make arrests in the same manner as is provided for other officers

Not specified
  • May provide cruelly-treated animal with shelter and care
  • May destroy animal in a humane manner (with written permission from owner)

New Hampshire

NH ST § 105:18

NH ST § 644:8


Not specified

Arresting officer may confiscate cruelly-treated animal

May take into temporary protective custody any animal when there is

  • probable cause to believe that it has been or is being abused or neglected,
  • clear and imminent danger to the animal's health or life, and
  • not sufficient time to obtain a court order

May arrest offenders and bring them before any court or magistrate having jurisdiction

Not specified May enter horse-racing or dog-racing facilities to take cruelly-treated horses or dogs into temporary protective custody

New Jersey

NJ ST § 4:22-11.1

NJ ST § 4:22-11.7

NJ ST § 4:22-11.8

NJ ST § 4:22-11.10

NJ ST § 4:22-11.11

Not specified Not specified May make arrests

Must complete firearms training and courses in

  • the law, procedures, and enforcement methods and techniques of investigation, arrest, and search and seizure, in connection with violations of animal cruelty laws and ordinances;
  • information and procedures related to animals, including animal behavior and traits and evaluation of animals at a crime scene;
  • methods to identify and document animal abuse, neglect, and distress; and
  • investigation of animal fighting

  • May enforce all laws and ordinances enacted for the protection of animals
  • May investigate alleged acts of cruelty to animals
  • May issue summons
  • May carry a firearm

New Mexico
New York

N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law § 117

N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law § 353-d

N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law § 371-375

N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 2.10

May serve a warrant to enter and search a place where animal cruelty is alleged by complaint

May seize
  • any lost, strayed, homeless or abandoned animal found in any street, road or other public place
  • any animal on any premises, which for more than 12 hours has been kept in a crowded or unhealthy condition or not properly cared for or without necessary sustenance, food or drink (with a warrant)
  • animals used for animal fighting
  • an animal from a vehicle if the animal is in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury due to exposure to extreme heat or cold
May arrest and bring offender before a court or magistrate

Not specified
  • May prevent any act of cruelty upon any animal in his presence
  • May cause any animal found abandoned and not properly cared for, or any lost, strayed, homeless or unwanted animal to be humanely destroyed (with veterinarian certification or owner consent)
  • May issue an appearance ticket and summons


North Carolina

N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 19A-45 - 19A-49

May forcibly enter any premises or vehicle to execute order if s/he

  • reasonably believes that the premises or vehicle is unoccupied by any person
  • that the animal is on the premises or in the vehicle, and
  • accompanied by a law-enforcement officer

May request a law-enforcement officer or animal control officer to accompany him to help seize animal

Not specified

Must attend annually a 6 hour course in the investigation of complaints relating to the care and treatment of animals


May file with a magistrate a sworn complaint requesting an order allowing the investigator to provide suitable care for and take immediate custody of cruelly-treated animal

North Dakota

 

 

ND ST § 36-21.1-06

ND ST § 36-21.1-12

ND ST § 36-21.1-13

Not specified

May take custody of and care for any animal

  • unjustifiably exposed to cold or inclement weather
  • not properly fed and watered
  • any animal found abandoned

Not specified Not specified
  • May care for the animal until it is redeemed by the owner
  • May deliver the animal to another person or facility to be sheltered, cared for, and furnished suitable food and drink

Ohio

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 1717.06

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 1717.08

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 1717.09

Not specified May require the sheriff of any county, the constable of any township, the marshal or a policeman of any municipal corporation, or any agent of such a society, to take possession of any animal cruelly treated, and deliver such animal to the proper officers of the society

  • May arrest any person violating a law protecting persons or animals or preventing acts of cruelty thereto
  • May require the sheriff of any county, the constable of any township, the marshal or a policeman of any municipal corporation, or any agent of such a society, to arrest any person found violating the laws in relation to cruelty to persons or animals

Minimum of 20 hours of training in investigation and prosecution of cruelty to and neglect of animals, including animal husbandry practices

  • May interfere to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty to animals in his presence
  • May use such force as is necessary to prevent act of cruelty
  • May summon to his aid any bystanders

Oklahoma
Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. § 686.450

Or. Rev. Stat. § 686.460

Not specified Not specified Not specified Not specified
  • investigate reports of suspected aggravated animal abuse
  • process case in  same manner as any other criminal investigation

Pennsylvania

PA ST 22 Pa.C.S.A. § 3701 - 3718

18 Pa.C.S. § 5511

May search any building or enclosure in which any violation is occurring or has occurred pursuant to search warrant

Power to seize any animal kept or used for animal fighting

Not specified Must complete a minimum 60 hours of instruction in the following areas:

  • Pennsylvania cruelty to animal laws
  • Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure
  • Care and treatment of animals
  • Proper execution of search warrants
  • Proper search and seizure practices
  • Animal husbandry practices constituting normal agricultural operation.
  • Practices accepted in the agricultural industry in the raising, keeping and production of agricultural animals
  • Characteristics of agricultural animals likely evidencing care that is in violation of the cruelty to animal laws
  • Proper care and handling of agricultural animals pursuant to enforcement of the cruelty to animals laws
  • Treatments administered and research conducted during the normal scope of veterinarian practices

  • Have same powers to initiate criminal proceedings as police officers
  • May provide care to seized animal
  • May provide for humane destruction of disabled, injured or diseased animal that has been seized and is beyond reasonable hope of recovery
  • May carry a firearm if s/he holds a current and valid certification in the use and handling of firearms

Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws § 4-1-21

R.I. Gen. Laws § 4-1-22
May serve any search warrant and search any building or place named in warrant

May take charge of any animal found abandoned or neglected, or is aged, maimed, disabled, lame, sick, diseased, injured, unfit for the labor it is performing, or cruelly treated

Same power and authority to arrest as any officer authorized to serve criminal process

Not specified May carry pistol

South Carolina

Edit this item Delete this item Move up Move down Add before this item Add after this item S.C. Code Ann. § 47-1-120

S.C. Code Ann. § 47-1-140

S.C. Code Ann. § 47-1-150


Not specified
  • May seize an animal preceding an arrest
  • May take charge of animal and deposit animal in a safe place of custody or deliver the animal into the possession of the police or sheriff when a person is arrested
  • may move for an order to take custody of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated

May make an arrest Not specified May order owner of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated to provide care to animal at owner's expense

South Dakota

S.D. Codified Laws § 40-1-24

S.D. Codified Laws § 40-1-28

S.D. Codified Laws § 40-1-29

S.D. Codified Laws § 40-1-37

S.D. Codified Laws § 40-2-6 - 40-2-9

  • May enter, search, and investigate premises where dangerous animal kept
  • May execute search warrant when accompanied by law enforcement officer
May seize, impound, or euthanize a dangerous animal

May request a law enforcement officer to arrest and take into custody any person in violation

Not specified
  • May use all necessary means to control a dangerous animal
  • May carry protective devices, other than firearms, for personal protection
  • May take testimony from owner of dangerous animal and witnesses
  • May use weapons, tranquilizing agents, or similar items in controlling dangerous animals, impounding animals, or handling animal problems
  • May issue citations to offenders for misdemeanor and felony violations
  • May prepare affidavits in support of search warrants

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-207

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-210

Not specified Not specified May make arrests and bring before court offenders found violating the provisions with regard to non-livestock animals

Not specified
  • May cause adequate veterinary treatment, shelter or nourishment to be furnished to an at-large animal
  • May interfere to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty upon any animal in that person's presence
  • May destroy any animal found abandoned or not properly cared for, appearing to be injured or diseased past humane recovery

Texas
Utah
Vermont

Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. Crimes and Criminal Procedure, § 351

Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. Crimes and Criminal Procedure, § 353

Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. Crimes and Criminal Procedure, § 354

Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. Crimes and Criminal Procedure, § 364

Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. Crimes and Criminal Procedure, § 386

  • May apply for a search warrant to enter premises where animal is kept
  • A veterinarian must accompany humane officer during execution of  search warrant

  • May seize an animal being cruelly treated (pursuant to search warrant)
  • May seize an animal without a warrant If animal's life is in jeopardy and immediate action is required to protect the animal's health or safety
  • May use reasonable force to remove animal from a motor vehicle if animal's life or safety is endangered
  • May accept animals voluntarily surrendered by the owner

Not specified Not specified
  • Issue civil citations
  • Inspect the care and condition of any animal permitted by the court to remain in the care, custody, or possession of offender
  • May arrange for euthanasia of a severely injured, diseased, or suffering animal upon the recommendation of a veterinarian
  • May seize any equipment associated with animal-fighting


Virginia

Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6557

Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6558

Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6559

Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6568

Not specified Not specified Not specified

Must complete a basic animal control course

May investigate violations of laws and ordinances regarding

  • care and treatment of animals 
  • disposal of dead animals

Washington

 

Wash. Rev. Code § 16.52.011

Wash. Rev. Code § 16.52.015

Wash. Rev. Code § 16.52.020

Wash. Rev. Code § 16.52.025

Wash. Rev. Code § 16.52.085

May execute search warrants and seize evidence when accompanied by law enforcement officers

Not specified

May cause a law enforcement officer to arrest and take into custody any person in violation

Must successfully complete training
  • May enforce animal-cruelty provisions
  • May issue citations to offenders for misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor violations
  • May make an oral complaint to a prosecuting attorney or a law enforcement officer to initiate arrest
  • May carry nonfirearm protective devices for personal protection
  • May prepare affidavits in support of search warrants

West Virginia

Wisconsin
Wyoming
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