Topic:
ANIMALS; CRIME; FINES; SENTENCING;
Location:
ANIMALS - LEGISLATION;

OLR Research Report


May 5, 2008

 

2008-R-0291

ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS IN CONNECTICUT AND OREGON

By: Meghan Reilly, Legislative Fellow

You asked for a comparison of Oregon and Connecticut animal abuse statutes.

SUMMARY

For purposes of the statutes pertaining to the humane treatment of animals, Connecticut and Oregon laws appear to cover the same classes of animals. Connecticut refers to all brute creatures and birds, while Oregon includes any nonhuman mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish. In both states, it is a crime to neglect or fail to provide proper care to an animal. In Connecticut, the penalty is a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or both. In Oregon, it is a fine of up to $2,500, up to six months imprisonment, or both. Oregon also has tougher penalties for neglect that seriously injures or kills the animal: imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to $125,000, or both.

Both states prohibit injuring, torturing, or killing an animal. In Connecticut, injuring an animal is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or both. In Oregon, it is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, imprisonment of up to six months, or both. But if the injury causes serious physical injury or death, it is punishable by a fine of up to $6,250, imprisonment of up to one year, or both. Oregon law also has tougher penalties for offenders with prior assault, strangulation, or animal abuse convictions, as well as for offenses committed in the presence of a minor. In those cases, the penalty is imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to $125,000, or both.

Both states prohibit intentionally injuring or killing a law enforcement or search and rescue animal, but Oregon also prohibits harming assistance animals. Both states prohibit training, hosting, attending, or betting on animal fighting. Oregon has tougher penalties for dogfighting, and it prohibits sexual abuse of animals.

CONNECTICUT LAW

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. It makes it a crime for those who impound or confine an animal to fail to (1) provide proper care for it; (2) cage or restrain it to prevent it from injuring itself or another animal; or (3) supply it with wholesome air, food, and water (CGS 53-247(a)).

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. The law also prohibits fighting with or baiting, harassing, or worrying any animal to make it perform for amusement. These offenses are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or both (CGS 53-247(a)).

The following actions are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment of up to five years, 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)). Maliciously and intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding, or killing an animal carries the same punishment (CGS 53-247(b)).

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

OREGON LAW

Oregon law defines “animals” as “any nonhuman mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian or fish” (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.310).

Second-degree animal abuse is intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing physical injury to an animal. It is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to $2,500, or both (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.315(3)).

First-degree animal abuse is intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing serious physical injury to an animal or cruelly killing an animal. It is typically a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $6,250, or both (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.320(3)). But it is a class C felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to $125,000, or both, if the abuse occurs in the presence of a minor. It is also a class C felony if the offender has previously been convicted of at least two of the following offenses: (1) fourth-degree assault, (2) third-degree assault, (3) second-degree assault, (4) first-degree assault, (5) strangulation, (6) first-degree animal abuse, or (7) aggravated first-degree animal abuse (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.320(4)). Aggravated first-degree animal abuse, which is also a class C felony, is defined as maliciously killing or intentionally or knowingly torturing an animal (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.322).

Oregon law also prohibits animal neglect. Second-degree animal neglect occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence fails to provide minimum care for an animal in his or her custody (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.325). The law defines “minimum care” as preserving an animal's health and well-being. This includes providing sufficient food, access to potable water, veterinary care, shelter, and adequate space to exercise (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.310). Second-degree animal neglect is a class B misdemeanor. Failing to provide minimum care intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence is first-degree animal neglect when that failure results in serious physical injury or death to the animal. First-degree animal neglect is a class A misdemeanor (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.330).

Sexual assault of animals is a class A misdemeanor, and occurs when a person touches an animal's mouth, anus, or sex organs, or causes the animal to touch the person's mouth, anus, or sex organs for sexual desire (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.333).

Animal abandonment is a class B misdemeanor. It occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence leaves a domestic animal without providing for its care (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.340).

Interfering with a search and rescue, assistance, therapy, or law enforcement animal performing its duty by intentionally or knowingly injuring or attempting to injure it is a class A misdemeanor (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.339). Knowingly causing serious physical injury or death to a law enforcement animal performing its duty, while aware that it is a law enforcement animal, is a class C felony (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.339).

The crime of animal fighting involvement, for animals other than dogs, occurs when a person (1) owns or trains animals intending to use them for fighting; (2) promotes, conducts, participates in, or is a spectator at a fight or fight preparations; or (3) manages, profits from, or permits the fight venue. It is a class A misdemeanor (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.355).

Dogfighting is a class C felony. It occurs when a person (1) owns, possesses, keeps, breeds, trains, buys, sells, or offers to sell a fighting dog; (2) promotes, conducts, participates in, or performs services for dogfights; (3) keeps, uses, manages, or accepts admission fees from the fight venue; or (4) permits a venue to be used for fighting (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.365). It is a class A misdemeanor to attend or pay admission to a dogfight, advertise or offer to sell equipment for fighting dogs, or possess dogfighting paraphernalia (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.370-72). A judge may order the seizure of fighting dogs (Or. Rev. Stat. 167.375).

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