Animal Cruelty Now a Felony in Arkansas

As of July 29th, 2009 (last Friday), animal cruelty became a felony in ArkansasAct 33 makes torturing a dog, cat or horse a felony on first offense, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a $10k fine.  There’s a 5 year sentencing enhancement if any of these acts are committed in front of a child.  That last provision brings up the issue of who lawmakers perceive as the true victims of animal cruelty — the animals who endure the cruelty or the people who witness it (Luis has written compellingly on this very issue).  But I’ll not cavil about this or why the law only extends to dogs, cats and horses.

My president keeps telling me not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  So, while I’m trying not to cry over the state of health care reform, I’ll be happy about the fact that this law has actual teeth and represents a significant step forward for animal protection.

–David Cassuto

5 Responses

  1. For days I have been in touch with the City of Little Rock Animal Services and talked in lengh with the manager Bernard. At the address 83 South Meadowcliff Drive dogs are being left in the cold with no shelter and not enough food. The rib cage and back hip bones are so bad the dogs can hardley stand. It is my understanding the owner has been in court for animal abuse and still this is occuring. Now if there is really a law why can I not get anything done about this problem? I have heard paperwork and demands have been given to the owner but still the dogs stay outside in this freezing weather starving and I cry. Can you help me and the dogs. There are 3 brown ones I see outside as of February 18, 2009.

  2. I do not have any legal contacts in Arkansas but have a few suggestions. First, have you contacted the local ASPCA or another local humane organization? Here also are a few thoughts from some colleagues:
    This person should contact the police/ sheriff’s dept (who also have jurisdiction over these cases) and perhaps the DA’s office, especially if there is a pending case. if there’s a humane organization (I think HSUS was involved in a large hoarding case in Arkansas last year); they could also be contacted for assistance.

    Good luck with this.

  3. Dear Evelyn,

    I’m hoping the following information will help you.

    Please see ALDF’s resources on “When you witness animal cruelty” at

    Some general advice:

    If you feel that your local law enforcement officials are not investigating in earnest (or at all!),

    write up a 1-2 page polite chronological summary of your knowledge of the crime and your concerns. Send copies to

    your local prosecutor, mayor, city and/or county council members and the law enforcement agency in question.

    Give them a reasonable deadline, and request that they send you a formal written response to your concerns.

    Keep a dated journal of who you speak with and what you are told.


    If you feel that your local law enforcement officials are corrupt, that they systematically refuse to investigate or prosecute crimes

    which have been formally reported to them, click here for your State Attorney General’s contact information.

    There again, you’ll want to file a formal written complaint.

    Yours could be the complaint that adds to an accumulation and finally forces an investigation, or, less satisfying but as important,
    marks the beginning of a paper trail that will see results down the road.


    You can also try getting local media involved by doing a story on the abuse case. That could stir up local pressure for a law enforcement investigation.


    You can download a compendium of animal protection laws at I have copied some relevant Arkansas statutes below. Please note you may have some rights as stated in 5-62-111, but you should consult with an Arkansas attorney before taking action.

    ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-110 (2008). Definitions.
    (a) As used in this section and §§ 5-62-111–5-62-119:
    (1) “Animal” or “dumb animal” includes every living creature;
    (2) “Cruelty”, “torture”, or “torment” include every act, omission, or neglect in which
    unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death is caused or permitted; and
    (3) “Owner” and “person” include a corporation as well as an individual.
    (b) Nothing in this section and §§ 5-62-111–5-62-119 shall be construed as prohibiting the
    shooting of a bird or other game for the purpose of human food.

    ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-111 (2008). Prevention of cruelty.
    (a) Any officer, agent, or member of a society which is incorporated for the prevention of cruelty
    to animals may lawfully interfere to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty upon any
    animal in his or her presence.
    (b) Any person who interferes with or obstructs any officer, agent, or member of a society which
    is incorporated for the prevention of cruelty to animals in the discharge of his or her duty is
    guilty of a misdemeanor.

    ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-112 (2008). Search Warrant.
    Upon complaint under oath or affirmation to any magistrate authorized to issue warrants in
    criminal cases that the complainant has any just and reasonable cause to suspect that any of the
    provisions of law relating to or in anywise affecting animals are being, or are about to be,
    violated in any particular building or place, the magistrate shall immediately issue and deliver a
    warrant to any person authorized by law to make arrests for such offenses authorizing him to
    enter and search such building or place and to arrest any person there present found violating any
    of the laws and to bring that person before the nearest magistrate of competent jurisdiction, to be
    dealt with according to law.

    ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-113 (2008). Authorized arrests; animal cruelty
    Upon being appointed by the president of any society which is incorporated for the prevention of
    cruelty to animals in any county of this state, an agent of the society within the county may make
    arrests and bring before any court or magistrate having jurisdiction any offender found violating
    the provisions of this section, §§ 5-62-110 — 5-62-112, and §§ 5-62-114 — 5-62-119.

    ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-114 (2008). Arrested persons; animal possession
    (a) When any person arrested is in charge at the time of the arrest of any vehicle drawn by or
    containing any animal, any agent of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals may take
    charge of the animal, the vehicle, and the vehicle’s contents and deposit them in a safe place of
    custody or deliver them into the possession of the police or sheriff of the county or place where
    the arrest was made.
    (b) The police or sheriff of the county shall then assume the custody of the animal, the vehicle,
    and the vehicle’s contents.

    ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-115 (2008). Injunction limitations; animal societies
    No injunction shall be granted against a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or any of
    its officers or agents except upon motion after due notice and a hearing on the motion.

    ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-118 (2008). Food, water, impounded animals
    (1) Any person who impounds or causes to be impounded in any pound or other place
    any creature shall supply to it during the confinement a sufficient quantity of good
    wholesome food and water.
    (2) Upon conviction, a person who violates subdivision (a)(1) of this section is guilty of a
    Class A misdemeanor.
    (1) When any creature is at any time impounded as provided in subsection (a) of this
    section and continues to be without necessary food and water for more than twelve (12)
    successive hours, it is lawful from time to time and as often as it is necessary for any
    person to enter into and upon any pound or other place in which the creature is so
    confined and to supply it with necessary food and water so long as the creature remains
    so confined.
    (A) A person is not liable to any action for the entry and the reasonable cost of the
    food and water may be collected by him or her from the owner of the creature.
    (B) The creature is not exempt from levy and sale upon execution issued upon a
    judgment for the reasonable cost of the food and water.

    ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-119 (2008). Animal transportation cruelty; custody
    (1) If any person carries or causes to be carried in or upon any vehicle, boat, or otherwise
    any creature in a cruel or inhuman manner, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor.
    (2) When the person is taken into custody by any officer, the officer may take charge of
    the vehicle, boat, etc., and its contents, and deposit them in a safe place of custody.
    (b) Any necessary expenses that may be incurred for taking charge of and keeping and sustaining
    the vehicle, boat, etc. is a lien on the vehicle, boat, etc. to be paid before the vehicle, boat, etc.
    can lawfully be recovered, or the expenses, or any part of the expenses, remaining unpaid may be
    recovered by the person incurring the expenses of the owner of the creature in any action


    Good luck and thank you for seeking justice for animals.

  4. I know this post is several years old, but my neighbor just shot our two dogs. He says they were chasing his kids. They were puppies 5 months old.. I am needing more information on who to contact about seeing what my leagal rights are.

  5. You should report the incident to local authorities: police, sheriff, or animal control. You can find more information on the ALDF website regarding “When your companion animal has been harmed” here

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