This law was amended in late 2008 to clearly define killing or torturing an animal as a general intent crime (the terms "willfully" and "maliciously" were changed to "knowingly"). Under the statute, violation is an automatic felony punishable by a prison term of up to four years for knowingly killing, torturing, mutilating, maiming, poisoning any animal "without just cause." That phrase was added to exclude negligent conduct such as hitting a deer on the road. In addition, commission of a reckless act knowing or having reason to know that the act will cause an animal to be killed, tortured, mutilated, maimed, or disfigured also falls under the statute. Among the exclusions are hunting, fishing, trapping, livestock husbandry, and scientific research.
Sec. 50b. (1) As used in this section, “animal” means any vertebrate other than a human being.
(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not do any of the following without just cause:
(a) Knowingly kill, torture, mutilate, maim, or disfigure an animal.
(b) Commit a reckless act knowing or having reason to know that the act will cause an animal to be killed, tortured, mutilated, maimed, or disfigured.
(c) Knowingly administer poison to an animal, or knowingly expose an animal to any poisonous substance, with the intent that the substance be taken or swallowed by the animal.
(3) A person who violates subsection (2) is guilty of a felony punishable by 1 or more of the following:
(a) Imprisonment for not more than 4 years.
(b) A fine of not more than $5,000.00 for a single animal and $2,500.00 for each additional animal involved in the violation, but not to exceed a total of $20,000.00.
(c) Community service for not more than 500 hours.
(4) As a part of the sentence for a violation of subsection (2), the court may order the defendant to pay the costs of the prosecution and the costs of the care, housing, and veterinary medical care for the impacted animal victim, as applicable. If the court does not order a defendant to pay all of the applicable costs listed in this subsection, or orders only partial payment of these costs, the court shall state on the record the reasons for that action.
(5) If a term of probation is ordered for a violation of subsection (2), the court may include as a condition of that probation that the defendant be evaluated to determine the need for psychiatric or psychological counseling and, if determined appropriate by the court, to receive psychiatric or psychological counseling at his or her own expense.
(6) As a part of the sentence for a violation of subsection (2), the court may order the defendant not to own or possess an animal for any period of time determined by the court, which may include permanent relinquishment.
(7) A person who owns or possesses an animal in violation of an order issued under subsection (6) is subject to revocation of probation if the order is issued as a condition of probation. A person who owns or possesses an animal in violation of an order issued under subsection (6) is also subject to the civil and criminal contempt power of the court and, if found guilty of criminal contempt, may be punished by imprisonment for not more than 90 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.
(8) This section does not prohibit the lawful killing of livestock or a customary animal husbandry or farming practice involving livestock. As used in this subsection, “livestock” means that term as defined in section 5 of the animal industry act, 1988 PA 466, MCL 287.705.
(9) This section does not prohibit the lawful killing of an animal pursuant to any of the following:
(b) Hunting, trapping, or wildlife control regulated under the natural resources and environmental protection act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.101 to 324.90106, and orders issued under that act.
(c) Pest or rodent control regulated under part 83 of the natural resources and environmental protection act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.8301 to 324.8336.
(d) Activities authorized under rules promulgated under section 9 of the executive organization act of 1965, 1965 PA 380, MCL 16.109.
(e) Section 19 of the dog law of 1919, 1919 PA 339, MCL 287.279.
(10) This section does not prohibit the lawful killing or use of an animal for scientific research under any of the following or a rule promulgated under any of the following:
(a) 1969 PA 224, MCL 287.381 to 287.395.
(b) Sections 2226, 2671, 2676, 7109, and 7333 of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.2226, 333.2671, 333.2676, 333.7109, and 333.7333.
(11) This section does not apply to a veterinarian or a veterinary technician lawfully engaging in the practice of veterinary medicine under part 188 of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.18801 to 333.18838.
P.A.1931, No. 328, § 50b, added by P.A.1994, No. 126, § 1, Eff. March 30, 1995. Amended by P.A.1996, No. 80, § 1, Imd. Eff. Feb. 27, 1996; P.A.2008, No. 339, Eff. Jan. 1, 2009.