Location:
ANIMALS - LEGISLATION;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


December 6, 2011

 

2011-R-0405

ANIMAL CRUELTY CASES IN CONNECTICUT

By: Kristen L. Miller, Legislative Analyst II

This report summarizes Connecticut's primary animal cruelty statute (CGS 53-247) and the outcome of offenses brought under it from 2002 to November 7, 2011.

SUMMARY

CGS 53-247 punishes people convicted of specified animal cruelty acts, with maximum fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, imprisonment ranging from maximum sentences of one to 10 years, or both. Since 2002, there have been a total of 3,292 offenses brought under this statute. Of those offenses, 497 (15%) were found guilty, 7 (0.2%) were found not guilty, 1,104 (33.5%) were dismissed, and 1,679 (51%) offenses were nolled (i.e., the prosecutor decided not to prosecute).

These statistics are based on offenses disposed of by the courts. It does not represent the number of persons charged. An individual could be charged with multiple offenses or have multiple cases during a year.

ANIMAL CRUELTY STATUTE (CGS 53-247)

Connecticut law defines “animals” as all brute creatures and birds (CGS 29-108a). CGS 53-247 prohibits numerous abusive behaviors toward animals and provides different penalties based on the severity of abuse and the abuser's intent.

Cruelty to Animals

CGS 53-247(a) prohibits people from overdriving, overloading, overworking, torturing, depriving of substance, mutilating, cruelly beating or killing, or unjustifiably injuring any animal. If impounding or confining an animal, it prohibits (1) failing to provide it proper care; (2) neglecting to cage or restrain it from injuring itself or another animal; or (3) failing to supply it with wholesome air, food, and water. The statute also bans unjustifiably administering or exposing a domestic animal to any poisonous or noxious drug or substance intending that the animal will take it. Individuals in 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 an animal to make it perform for amusement, diversion, or exhibition is also prohibited. These offenses are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or both.

Under CGS 53-247(b), 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. This offense does not apply to (1) licensed veterinarians following accepted practice standards; (2) persons following approved slaughter methods; (3) students, employees, or persons performing medical research and associated with a hospital, educational institution, or laboratory; and (4) persons abiding by generally accepted agricultural practices or lawfully engaged in taking wildlife.

Animals Engaged in Exhibition of Fighting

Under CGS 53-247(c), the following actions are also 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 a fighting exhibition for amusement or gain; (3) allowing such acts to occur 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.

Intentional Injury or Killing Police Animals or Dogs in Volunteer Canine Service or Rescue Teams

Under CGS 53-247(d), intentionally injuring an animal performing its duties under a peace officer's supervision 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.

And under CGS 53-247(e), intentionally killing such an animal is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, up to 10 years imprisonment, or both.

OUTCOME OF ANIMAL CRUELTY CASES

The following tables summarize Judicial Department data on animal cruelty offenses from 2002 to November 7, 2011.

Table 1 shows the procedural outcome of animal cruelty offenses, by year. As the table shows, during this period 51% of the offenses were nolled, 34% were dismissed, and 15% resulted in guilty findings.

Table 1: Procedural Outcome of Animal Cruelty Offenses, 2002 - November 7, 2011

 

YEAR

Finding

Total for

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Period

(as of 11/7/11)

Bond Forfeiture

5

2

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Dismissed

1104

255

108

62

33

140

146

107

100

83

70

Guilty

497

57

37

32

38

70

54

38

66

48

57

Not Guilty

7

3

0

0

0

0

1

3

0

0

0

Nolle

1679

111

201

249

130

212

138

217

136

125

160

Total

3292

428

348

344

201

422

339

365

302

256

287

Table 2 shows the number of animal cruelty offenses by statute and year. Ninety-seven percent of the offenses were violations of the statutory subsection prohibiting people from using or treating animals in harmful ways (CGS 53-247(a)). (The other subsections penalize people for intentionally, knowingly, or maliciously abusing animals in specific ways.)

Table 2: Animal Cruelty Offenses by Statute, 2002 to November 7, 2011

 

Year

 

Violation Description and Penalty

CGS

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Total

(as of 11/7/11)

Cruelty to animals.

53-247(a)

419

344

341

192

419

323

356

286

252

276

3208

Malicious or intentional cruelty to animals.

53-247(b)

4

3

2

8

2

14

3

4

2

0

42

Knowingly engaging in the exhibition of fighting animals.

53-247(c)

5

1

1

0

0

0

0

11

2

11

31

Intentionally injuring a police animal or dog in a volunteer canine search and rescue team.

53-247(d)

0

0

0

1

1

2

6

1

0

0

11

Intentionally killing a police animal or dog in a volunteer canine search and rescue team.

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

TOTAL

428

348

344

201

422

339

365

302

256

287

3292

Attachments one through 10 show the outcome of each statutory category of animal cruelty offenses for 2002 to November 7, 2011, respectively.

ATTACHMENT 1: 2002 Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Offenses

Statutory

Section

Total

Bond Forfeiture

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

53-247(a)

419

2

253

55

0

109

53-247(b)

4

0

0

2

2

0

53-247(c)

5

0

2

0

1

2

53-247(d)

0

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

428

2

255

57

3

111

ATTACHMENT 2: 2003 Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Offenses

Statutory

Section

Total

Bond Forfeiture

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

53-247(a)

344

2

105

36

0

201

53-247(b)

3

0

2

1

0

0

53-247(c)

1

0

1

0

0

0

53-247(d)

0

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

348

2

108

37

0

201

ATTACHMENT 3: 2004 Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Offenses

Statutory

Section

 

Bond Forfeiture

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

53-247(a)

341

1

62

30

0

248

53-247(b)

2

0

0

2

0

0

53-247(c)

1

0

0

0

0

1

53-247(d)

0

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

344

1

62

32

0

249

ATTACHMENT 4: 2005 Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Offenses

Statutory

Section

Total

Bond Forfeiture

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

53-247(a)

192

0

32

31

0

129

53-247(b)

8

0

1

7

0

0

53-247(c)

0

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(d)

1

0

0

0

0

1

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

201

0

33

38

0

130

ATTACHMENT 5: 2006 Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Offenses

Statutory

Section

Total

Bond Forfeiture

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

53-247(a)

419

0

140

68

0

211

53-247(b)

2

0

0

1

0

1

53-247(c)

0

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(d)

1

0

0

1

0

0

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

422

0

140

70

0

212

ATTACHMENT 6: 2007 Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Offenses

Statutory

Section

Total

Bond Forfeiture

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

53-247(a)

323

0

146

49

1

127

53-247(b)

14

0

0

4

0

10

53-247(c)

0

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(d)

2

0

0

1

0

1

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

339

0

146

54

1

138

ATTACHMENT 7: 2008 Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Offenses

Statutory

Section

Total

Bond Forfeiture

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

53-247(a)

356

0

106

35

2

213

53-247(b)

3

0

0

1

1

1

53-247(c)

0

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(d)

6

0

1

2

0

3

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

365

0

107

38

3

217

ATTACHMENT 8: 2009 Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Offenses

Statutory

Section

Total

Bond Forfeiture

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

53-247(a)

286

0

100

53

0

133

53-247(b)

4

0

0

2

0

2

53-247(c)

11

0

0

11

0

0

53-247(d)

1

0

0

0

0

1

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

302

0

100

66

0

136

ATTACHMENT 9: 2010 Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Offenses

Statutory

Section

Total

Bond Forfeiture

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

53-247(a)

252

0

82

46

0

124

53-247(b)

2

0

0

1

0

1

53-247(c)

2

0

1

1

0

0

53-247(d)

0

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

256

0

83

48

0

125

ATTACHMENT 10: Procedural Outcomes of Animal Cruelty Offenses

from January 2011 to November 7, 2011

Statutory

Section

Total

Bond Forfeiture

Dismissed

Guilty

Not Guilty

Nolle

53-247(a)

276

0

59

57

0

160

53-247(b)

0

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(c)

11

0

11

0

0

0

53-247(d)

0

0

0

0

0

0

53-247(e)

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

287

0

70

57

0

160

KM:ts