Cruelty to Animals Acts
All states have laws that prohibit cruelty to horses and other animals. Every state makes it a crime to engage in certain cruel acts toward animals. Most states permit the government to seize and destroy or sell an animal that has been found to have been cruelly treated.
Many states give a special role to the Humane Society or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Those states make officers of these private associations law enforcement officers, empowered to seek and execute search and arrest warrants, search private property for evidence of cruelty to animals and arrest persons whom they have reason to believe have committed an offense of cruelty to an animal.
Many states have
recently enacted legislation to protect research facilities from
trespass to "liberate" animals in their custody. Other states have
punishments for abuse of police or service animals.
(Scroll down to view state statutes.)
Older statutes are directed toward equines as work animals and seek to protect them from overwork and neglect. More recent statutes focus on dogs and cats; they establish pounds, animal control systems, and standards of care.
The focus of this section is upon laws dealing with cruelty to horses. So long as a law could be applied to a horse, it is included here. Laws that by their terms cannot be applied to horses--such as laws specifically directed at dogs and cats or laws prohibiting staging fights between animals or fowls--are excluded.
Statutes in all fifty states were reviewed and updated as needed in September 2001.