University of Vermont AAHS

Delaware Cruelty to Animals Statutes


DELAWARE STATUTES
TITLE 3. AGRICULTURE
PART VI. DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN ANIMALS, BIRDS, REPTILES AND INSECTS
CHAPTER 79. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS CONCERNING ANIMALS


7901 Enforcement of laws for protection of animals.

The sheriffs and constables of the several counties of this State, and the police force of the City of Wilmington, as well as all other places in the State where police organizations exist, shall, as occasion requires, assist the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or The Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, their members or agents, in the enforcement of all laws which are enacted for the protection of dumb animals.


7902 Fines and penalties in certain cases; disposition.

All fines, penalties and forfeitures, imposed and collected in any county of the State under every act relating to or affecting cruelty to animals, in every case where the prosecution shall be instituted and conducted by the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and The Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, shall enure to such Society in aid of the purposes for which they were incorporated.


7903 Service of process.

Any warrant of arrest, or other process, issued under or by virtue of the several laws in relation to cruelty to animals, may be directed to and executed by any agent in Sussex and New Castle Counties of this State, so appointed by The Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or in Kent County of this State so appointed by the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. No compensation shall be paid to the agent except by the Society.


7904 Impoundment.

(a) Any agent in Sussex and New Castle Counties of this State, so appointed by the Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or in Kent County of this State, so appointed by the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, may, in instances of alleged acts of animal cruelty and as provided for by the laws of Delaware relating to seizure of property, impound in the appropriate S.P.C.A. shelter or, if required, in an appropriate veterinarian facility, any animal subjected to cruel mistreatment or cruel neglect. Should the owner or custodian of an animal not be available at or near the premises where the animal is located, upon taking an animal under this section the agent shall leave in an appropriate place written notice to the animal's owner or custodian of such action. Societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals shall take all reasonable action to insure that owners or custodians of an animal, impounded under this section, shall have received notice of such action as soon as possible and no later than 24 hours after the impoundment.

(b) An animal impounded under this section shall not remain in the custody of the appropriate Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals longer than 48 hours and shall be returned to its owner or custodian unless a complaint is filed within the 48-hour period in the appropriate court under the animal cruelty laws against the owner or custodian. When a complaint is filed in the appropriate court, the impounded animal shall remain in the custody of the appropriate Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals pending the outcome of the action. If the owner or custodian is found to be in violation of the animal cruelty laws the court shall make a final determination as to the disposition of the animal. Should the complaint be withdrawn, prior to a court hearing, the animal shall be immediately made available to its owner or custodian.

(c) An owner or custodian of an animal impounded under this section who is found guilty of cruelty to the animal, and the court orders the animal returned to such owner or custodian, shall, prior to taking the animal, reimburse the appropriate Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals its regular standard fees charged for the care of animals while in the Society's custody plus any veterinary fees incurred for the animal during the period of impoundment. Failure of the animal's owner or custodian to pay such fees within 5 days after a finding of guilty will result in ownership of the animal reverting to the appropriate S.P.C.A.. The S.P.C.A. may then dispose of the animal in accord with its procedures for such disposition.

(d) Should an animal which has been impounded under this section expire while in the custody of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the animal shall, as soon as possible, be turned over to the State Veterinarian at the Department of Agriculture. The State Veterinarian shall take whatever action necessary, including autopsy if required, to determine cause of the animal's death and shall record such cause. The cause of death shall, if requested, be furnished to the animal's owner and to the court handling the complaint relative to the animal. Disposition of the animal's remains shall be coordinated with the animal's owner and, provided a complaint has been filed, with the court handling the complaint.


CHAPTER 80. HUMANE KILLING OF ANIMALS HELD IN SHELTER


8001 Adoption or euthanasia authorized.

Any dog, cat or any other animal held by or in the custody of a private or public animal shelter or agency and not reclaimed by the owner within 5 days from written notification to the owner of the animal, if ownership can be determined, unless earlier disposal is recommended by a doctor of veterinary medicine, may be disposed of only by adoption as a companion in a suitable home if a domestic animal, or by rehabilitation to its natural habitat if a wild animal, or by euthanasia performed in 1 of the following ways:

(1) By administration of sodium pentobarbital; or

(2) With chloroform by a means approved in writing by a licensed veterinarian after inspecting the equipment and method.


8002 Administration of sodium pentobarbital.

(a) Sodium pentobarbital shall be administered by any 1 of the following methods:

(1) Intravenous, intraperitoneal or intracardial injection of a lethal dose;

(2) Oral ingestion of powdered sodium pentobarbital in capsules mixed with food, with the animal remaining in its individual cage until dead.

(b) Sodium pentobarbital shall be administered under the following conditions:

(1) A sharp and undamaged hypodermic needle shall be used for each animal and be of a size suitable for the size and species of animal, and method of injection; and

(2) Administration shall be by a licensed veterinarian or by a person certified as proficient in the injection of sodium pentobarbital by a licensed veterinarian after passing both a written and practical examination.

(c) Sodium pentobarbital may be obtained by the animal shelter with required federal and state permits.


8003 Administration of chloroform.

Rodents, rabbits and infant wildlife may be euthanized with chloroform or injections sodium pentobarbital.

(1) The animal to be killed shall be placed in an individual cage or compartment in a small airtight container constructed with proper closeable air intake and a chloroform dispenser device and view window sufficient to permit unobstructed observation of the animal until dead. The animal shall not be placed directly into a container already saturated with chloroform.

(2) The chloroform, of a dose sufficient to kill the size of animal, shall be placed onto a gauze, cotton or wool dispenser attached to the container wall in such a position that the animal shall not be able to come in direct contact with it. After the animal is unconscious, the fresh air intake is to be closed.

(3) The animal shall not be removed from the container for 30 minutes after cessation of respiratory movements. After the animal is removed, it shall be checked for heartbeat. The animal's body shall not be disposed of until the onset of rigor mortis.

(4) The room in which the chloroform is administered shall have forced ventilation to remove all fumes after each use, for the protection of personnel.

(5) All methods shall be inspected and approved in writing by a licensed veterinarian.


8004 Proper facilities required.

Any municipality that does not have proper facilities and trained personnel shall transport in a humane manner any animals which are to be euthanized to the nearest private or public shelter or agency which has proper facilities and trained personnel or contract for euthanasia of such animals by a licensed veterinarian.


8005 Use of decompression chamber to be prohibited; violation constitutes class A misdemeanor; civil remedy; jurisdiction of Superior Court.

(a) Anything in this chapter to the contrary notwithstanding, any shelter that has employed a high altitude, low pressure chamber, also known as the decompression chamber, to dispose of animals prior to July 4, 1985, may continue to do so for a period of 1 year after July 4, 1985. Thereafter, no shelter shall employ such a chamber to dispose of animals, and shall have complied with s 8006 of this title about the dismantling of such chambers.

(b) Failure by any person employed by, volunteering at or an agent of any private or public animal shelter to comply with this chapter for euthanizing animals shall constitute a class A misdemeanor and shall be punishable as provided by law.

(c) Any person may maintain a civil action to enjoin the continuance of the violation. If the acts sought to be enjoined are determined by the courts to violate this chapter, a permanent injunction against such acts shall be granted. The violation may also be abated by any public body or officer authorized to do so by law.

(d) The Superior Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction of misdemeanor offenses under this section.


8006 Dismantling of decompression chamber.

Within 1 year of July 4, 1985, any chamber or device used to induce hypoxia through decompression or in any other manner shall be dismantled and removed from the premises. The director or owner of any premises on which the chamber or device remains 1 year subsequent to July 4, 1985 shall be subject to the same penalty as that provided for a violation of the state cruelty to animals statute. The Superior Court shall have original, exclusive jurisdiction over all violations of this section.


TITLE 11. CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I. DELAWARE CRIMINAL CODE
CHAPTER 5. SPECIFIC OFFENSES
SUBCHAPTER VII. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH, ORDER AND DECENCY
SUBPART A. RIOT, DISORDERLY CONDUCT AND RELATED OFFENSES


1325 Cruelty to animals; class A misdemeanor; class F felony.

(a) For the purpose of this section, the following words and phrases shall include, but not be limited to, the meanings respectively ascribed to them as follows:

(1) "Cruel" includes every act or omission to act whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused or permitted.

(2) "Cruel mistreatment" includes any treatment whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused or permitted.

(3) "Cruel neglect" includes neglect of an animal, which is under the care and control of the neglector, whereby pain or suffering is caused to the animal or abandonment of any domesticated animal by its owner or custodian.  By way of example, cruel neglect shall also include allowing an animal to live in unsanitary conditions, such as keeping an animal where the animal's own excrement is not removed from the animal's living area and/or other living conditions which are injurious to the animal's health.

(4) "Cruelty to animals" includes mistreatment of any animal or neglect of any animal under the care and control of the neglector, whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused. By way of example this includes: Unjustifiable beating of an animal; overworking an animal; tormenting an animal; abandonment of an animal; failure to feed properly or give proper shelter or veterinary care to an animal.

(5) "Person" includes any individual, partnership, corporation or association living and/or doing business in the State.

(6) "Abandonment" includes completely forsaking or deserting an animal originally under one's custody without making reasonable arrangements for custody of that animal to be assumed by another person.

(7) "Custody" includes the responsibility for the welfare of an animal subject to one's care and control whether one owns it or not.

(8) "Proper feed" includes providing each animal with daily food and water of sufficient quality and quantity to prevent unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering by the animal.

(9) "Proper shelter" includes providing each animal with adequate shelter from the weather elements as required to prevent unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering by the animal.

(10) "Proper veterinary care" includes providing each animal with veterinary care sufficient to prevent unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering by the animal.

(11) "Animal" shall not include fish, crustacea or molluska.

(12) "Serious injury" shall include any injury to any animal which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes prolonged impairment of health or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.

(b) A person is guilty of cruelty to animals when the person intentionally or recklessly:

(1) Subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment; or

(2) Subjects any animal in the person's custody to cruel neglect; or

(3) Kills or injures any animal belonging to another person without legal privilege or consent of the owner; or

(4) Cruelly or unnecessarily kills or injures any animal whether belonging to the actor or another. This section does not apply to the killing of any animal normally or commonly raised as food for human consumption, provided that such killing is not cruel. A person acts unnecessarily if the act is not required to terminate an animal's suffering, to protect the life or property of the actor or another person or if other means of disposing of an animal exist which would not impair the health or well-being of that animal.Paragraphs (1), (2) and (4) of this subsection are inapplicable to accepted veterinary practices and activities carried on for scientific research; or

(5) captures, detains, transports, removes or delivers any animal known to be a domestic farm animal, pet or companion animal, or any other animal of scientific, environmental, economic or cultural value, under false pretenses to any public or private animal shelter, veterinary clinic or other facility, or otherwise causes the same through acts of deception or misrepresentation of the circumstances and disposition of any such animal.

Cruelty to animals is a class A misdemeanor, unless the person intentionally kills or causes serious injury to any animal in violation of paragraph (4) of this subsection, or unless the animal is killed or seriously injured as a result of any action
prohibited by paragraph (5), in which case it is a class F felony.

(c) Any person convicted of a misdemeanor violation of this section shall be prohibited from owning or possessing any animal for 5 years after said conviction, except for animals grown, raised or produced within the State for resale, or for sale of a product thereof, where the person has all necessary licenses for such sale or resale, and receives at least 25 percent of the person's annual gross income from such sale or resale.

A violation of this subsection is subject to a fine in the amount of $1,000 in any court of competent jurisdiction and to forfeiture of any animal illegally owned in accordance with the provisions of 3 Del. C. s 7907.

(d) Any person convicted of a felony violation of this section shall be prohibited from owning or possessing any animal for 15 years after said conviction, except for animals grown, raised or produced within the State for resale, or for sale of a product thereof, where the person has all necessary licenses for such sale or resale, and receives at least 25 percent of the person's annual gross income from such sale or resale.

A violation of this subsection is subject to a fine in the amount of $5,000 in any court of competent jurisdiction and to forfeiture of any animal illegally owned in accordance with the provisions of 3 Del. C. s 7907.

(e) Any agent of the Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or, in Kent County of this State, of the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, may impound an animal owned or possessed in apparent violation of this section, consistent with 3 Del. C. s 7907.

(f) This section shall not apply to the lawful hunting or trapping of animals as provided by law.


Amended in 1999, 2001.
Reviewed by AAHS in September 2001.


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