University of Vermont AAHS

New Hampshire Cruelty to Animals Statutes


47:17. Bylaws and Ordinances

The city councils shall have power to make all such salutary and needful bylaws as towns and the police officers of towns and engineers or firewards by law have power to make and to annex penalties, not exceeding $1000, for the breach thereof; and may make, establish, publish, alter, modify, amend and repeal ordinances, rules, regulations, and bylaws for the following purposes:

X. Stock at Large. To regulate, restrain, or prohibit the keeping or running at large of horses, cattle, sheep, swine, geese, goats and other poultry and animals, or any of them, to create the limits of districts within which the same may be kept and the conditions and restrictions under which they may be kept.

XI. Dogs. To regulate the keeping of dogs and their running at large, require them to be licensed, and authorize the destruction of those kept or running at large contrary to the ordinance.


105:14. Cruelty to Animals

Whenever an officer makes an arrest upon view, or upon a warrant for a violation of any provision of RSA 441:4-a, he may take into his possession the animal which is the subject of such cruelty, and if the owner has no knowledge of such taking he shall give him notice forthwith.

105:17. Arrest

If any person shall be found violating the laws in relation to cruelty to animals he may be arrested and held without warrant, in the same manner as in case of persons found breaking the peace.

105:18. Special Deputies

Any officer or agent of any incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, upon being designated in writing for that purpose by the sheriff of any county in this state, may, within such county, make arrests and bring before any court or magistrate having jurisdiction offenders found violating the provisions of this subdivision.


427:53. Enforcement

The commissioner of agriculture, markets, and food, either by himself or his agents, shall have authority to enforce the provisions of this subdivision, and for that purpose may, without expense to the state, designate as his agent any officer or agent of the society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.


644:8. Cruelty to Animals

I. In this section, "cruelty" shall include, but not be limited to, acts or omissions injurious or detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of any animal, including the abandoning of any animal without proper provision for its care, sustenance, protection or shelter.

II. In this section, "animal" means a domestic animal, a household pet or a wild animal in captivity.

II-a. In this section, "shelter" or "necessary shelter" for dogs shall mean any natural or artificial area which provides protection from the direct sunlight when that sunlight is likely to cause heat exhaustion of a dog tied or caged outside. Shelter from inclement weather shall have an area within to afford the dog the ability to stand up, turn around and lie down, and be of proportionate size as to allow the natural body heat of the dog to be retained.

III. A person is guilty of a misdemeanor for a first offense, and of a class B felony for a second or subsequent offense, who:
(a) Without lawful authority negligently deprives or causes to be deprived any animal in his possession or custody necessary care, sustenance or shelter;
(b) Negligently beats, cruelly whips, tortures, mutilates or in any other manner mistreats or causes to be mistreated any animal;
(c) Negligently overdrives, overworks, drives when overloaded, or otherwise abuses or misuses any animal intended for or used for labor;
(d) Negligently transports any animal in his possession or custody in a manner injurious to the health, safety or physical well-being of such animal;
(e) Negligently abandons any animal previously in his possession or custody by causing such animal to be left without supervision or adequate provision for its care, sustenance or shelter; or
(f) Otherwise negligently permits or causes any animal in his possession or custody to be subjected to cruelty, inhumane treatment or unnecessary suffering of any kind.

III-a. A person is guilty of a class B felony who purposely beats, cruelly whips, tortures, or mutilates any animal or causes any animal to be beaten, cruelly whipped, tortured, or mutilated.

IV. (a) In addition to being guilty of crimes as provided in paragraphs III and III-a, any person charged with cruelty to animals may have his or her animal confiscated by the arresting officer and, upon said person's conviction of cruelty to animals, the court may dispose of said animal in any manner it decides. Courts shall give cases in which animals have been confiscated by an arresting officer priority on the court calendar. The costs, if any, incurred in boarding and treating the animal, pending disposition of the case, and in disposing of the animal, upon a conviction of said person for cruelty to animals, shall be borne by the person so convicted. In addition, the court may prohibit any person convicted of animal cruelty from having future ownership or custody of other animals for any period of time the court deems reasonable or impose any other reasonable restrictions on the person's future ownership or custody of animals as necessary for the protection of the animals.
(b) If a person convicted of cruelty to animals appeals the conviction and any confiscated animal remains in the custody of the arresting officer or the officer's designee pending disposition of the appeal, in order for the appellant to maintain a future interest in the animal, the trial court may require the appellant to post a bond or other security in an amount not exceeding $2,000 for each animal in custody for costs expected to be incurred for the board and care of the animal during the appeal. If the conviction is affirmed on appeal, the costs incurred for the board and care of the animal shall be paid to the custodian from the posted security and the balance, if any, returned to the person who posted it.

IV-a. (a) Except as provided in subparagraph (b) any appropriate law enforcement officer, animal control officer, or officer of a duly licensed humane society may take into temporary protective custody any animal when there is probable cause to believe that it has been abused or neglected in violation of paragraphs III or III-a when there is a clear and imminent danger to the animal's health or life and there is not sufficient time to obtain a court order. Such officer shall leave a written notice indicating the type and number of animals taken into protective custody, the name of the officer, the time and date taken, the reason it was taken, the procedure to have the animal returned and any other relevant information. Such notice shall be left at the location where the animal was taken into custody. The officer shall provide for proper care and housing of any animal taken into protective custody under this paragraph. If, after 7 days, the animal has not been returned or claimed, the officer shall petition the municipal or district court seeking either permanent custody or a one-week extension of custody or shall file charges under this section. If a week's extension is granted by the court and after a period of 14 days the animal remains unclaimed, the title and custody of the animal shall rest with the officer on behalf of the officer's department or society. The department or society may dispose of the animal in any lawful and humane manner as if it were the rightful owner. If after 14 days the officer or the officer's department determines that charges should be filed under this section, the officer shall petition the court.
(b) For purposes of subparagraph (a) the investigating officer for livestock, as defined in RSA 427:38, III, shall be accompanied by a veterinarian licensed under RSA 332-B or the state veterinarian who shall set the probable cause criteria for taking the animal or animals.
(c) The provisions of RSA 284 shall not be affected by this section.

V. A veterinarian licensed to practice in the state shall be held harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decisions made for services rendered under the provisions of this section or RSA 435:11-16. Such a veterinarian is, therefore, under this paragraph, protected from a lawsuit for his part in an investigation of cruelty to animals.

644:8-aa. Animals in Motor Vehicle

I. It shall be cruelty to confine an animal in a motor vehicle or other enclosed space in which the temperature is either so high or so low as to cause serious harm to the animal. "Animal" means a domestic animal, household pet, or wild animal held in captivity.

II. Any person in violation of this section be guilty of a misdemeanor as set forth in RSA 644:8.

III. Any law enforcement officer or agent of a licensed humane organization may take action necessary to rescue a confined animal endangered by extreme temperatures, and to remove the threat of further serious harm.

IV. No officer or agent taking action under paragraph III shall be liable for damage reasonably necessary to rescue the confined animal.

644:8-b Docking Tail of Horse
If any person shall cut the bone of the tail of a horse for the purpose of docking the tail, or shall cause or knowingly permit the same to be done upon the premises of which he is in control, or shall assist in or be present at such cutting, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Written permission from the state veterinarian shall be obtained by a licensed veterinarian to perform surgical operations pursuant to this section. The state veterinarian shall promulgate rules relative to granting authorization for such operation.

Amended in 1998, 1999, 2000.
Reviewed by AAHS in September 2001.

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