This law modifies the Animal Protection Statute Ley 84, 1989 by modifying the Civil Code and the Criminal Code. Ley 1774 changes the status of the animals in the legal system, by declaring that all animals are "sentient beings" subject to special protection against pain and suffering. The duty of animal protection, is established as a collective responsibility where the government and the citizens are required to assist and protect animals. Citizens have the duty to report when an animal is being subject to cruelty. The authorities have the duty to take action within 24 hours of receiving a report on animal cruelty.
Animal cruelty now is considered a crime that can be punishable with imprisonment for up to 36 months and fines of up to COP$ 46,874 (around USD $17,000). The penalties for incurring in these actions are significantly increased in comparison with the penalties set forth in Ley 84. This law does not specifically define what animals are covered by the new rules. However, the section added to the Criminal code, Article 339A, reads: “Who, by any means or procedure, mistreats a pet, a tamed animal, a vertebrate wild animal, or a exotic vertebrate, causing it death or injury that seriously harm their health or physical integrity, will incur a prison sentence from twelve (12) to thirty six (36) months,” so long as such actions are not considered exceptions. Some of the exceptions to this law include bullfighting and its variations, as well as cockfighting.
Article 665 of the civil code that defines “movable” or personal property. For the first time in Colombia, a law declares that animals are just not simple goods. A new paragraph to Art 665 establishes that all animals are "sentient beings." Law 1774, establishes that animals “will receive special protection against suffering and pain,” and emphasizes that they will receive such protections especially when the harm comes “directly or indirectly from humans.” at the same time, this law modifies the Penal Code, and typifies animal cruelty as punishable and creates special criminal and judicial procedures to enforce the duty of animal protection.
Article 3 established the "Five Freedoms" under the principle of animal welfare:
- Freedom from hunger or thirst.
- Freedom from discomfort.
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease.
- Freedom to express normal behaviour.
- Freedom from fear and distress, by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
It also establishes the principle of animal protection and social solidarity, where it mandates that the government and society protect animals, especially in those situations where their life or health are threaten.
Ley 1774 adds to the Criminal Code the title "Of the crimes against animals," with a chapter denominated "Crimes against the life, physical and emotional integrity of animals." This title contains the penalties for incurring animal cruelty and the actions that constitute aggravated animal cruelty. It gives municipal criminal judges power to know about animal cruelty cases, and majors and the police to hear about complaints regarding animal abuse.
Article 8 of Ley 1774, authorizes warrantless "preventive apprehensions." Warrantless seizures by the authorities are allowed when there is "knowledge or indicia" that an animal is being abused or neglected. Such authorities have to act within 24 hours after an animal abused complaint has been filed.