Topic:
ANIMALS; FINES; SENTENCING; STATISTICAL INFORMATION;
Location:
ANIMALS - LEGISLATION;

OLR Research Report


May 6, 2008

 

2008-R-0260

Revised

ANIMAL CRUELTY CASES IN CONNECTICUT

 

By: Meghan Reilly, Legislative Fellow

You asked how many animal cruelty cases there have been in the last 10 years, how many resulted in convictions, and their dispositions. The Judicial Department has relevant records from 2004 through 2007 on CGS 53-247(a) to (e), and we provide information below.

SUMMARY

CGS 53-247 punishes people convicted of animal cruelty with maximum fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, imprisonment ranging from maximum sentences of one to 10 years, or both. Since 2004, a total of 1,369 cases have been brought under this statute. Of those cases, 182 defendants were found guilty, one was found not guilty, 367 were dismissed, and 819 cases were nolled (i.e., the prosecutor decided not to prosecute).

ANIMAL CRUELTY STATUTES

Connecticut law defines “animals” as all brute creatures and birds (CGS 29-108a). It prohibits overdriving, overloading, overworking, torturing, depriving of sustenance, mutilating, cruelly beating or killing, or unjustifiably injuring any animal. If impounding or confining an animal, failing to provide proper care is also prohibited, as is (1) neglecting to cage or restrain an animal from injuring itself or another animal or (2) failing to supply an animal with wholesome air, food, and water. The law also covers unjustifiably providing or exposing a domestic animal to poisonous or noxious substances. Individuals having custody of an animal may not act cruelly to it; fail to provide it with proper food, drink, or shelter; abandon it; or carry or cause it to be carried in a cruel manner. Fighting with or baiting, harassing, or worrying any animal to make it perform for amusement is also prohibited. These offenses are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or both (CGS 53-247(a)).

Maliciously and intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding or killing an animal is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years imprisonment, or both (CGS 53-247(b)).

The following actions are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years imprisonment, or both: knowingly (1) owning, possessing, keeping, or training an animal engaged in fighting for amusement or gain, (2) possessing, keeping, or training an animal to engage in an exhibition of fighting for amusement or gain, (3) permitting such acts to take place on premises under one's control, (4) acting as a judge or spectator at such an exhibition, or (5) betting or wagering on the outcome of an exhibition (CGS 53-247(c)).

Intentionally injuring any animal performing its duties under the supervision of a peace officer or intentionally injuring a dog performing its duties as a member of a volunteer canine search and rescue team, is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years imprisonment, or both (CGS 53-247(d)). Intentionally killing an animal performing of such duties is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, up to 10 years imprisonment, or both (CGS 53-247(e)).

STATISTICS

Table 1 shows the procedural outcome statistics of the animal cruelty cases on record with the Judicial Department from 2004 to 2007. Of the 46 guilty findings in 2006, 11 offenders served jail time. Of the 63 guilty findings in 2007, 16 served jail time.

Table 1: Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Cases,

2004-2007

 

 

Total

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

FY 2004

53-247(a)

327

99

35

0

193

53-247(b)

5

2

2

0

1

53-247( c)

1

0

0

0

1

53-247(d)

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

FY 2005

53-247(a)

343

37

34

0

272

53-247(b)

1

0

1

0

0

53-247( c)

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(d)

1

0

1

0

0

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

FY 2006

53-247(a)

304

83

38

n/a

183

53-247(b)

9

1

8

n/a

0

53-247(d)

1

0

0

n/a

1

FY 2007

53-247(a)

363

145

59

1

158

53-247(b)

12

0

2

0

10

53-247(d)

2

0

2

0

0

Source: Judicial Department Statistics

MR:dw