University of Vermont AAHS

Utah Cruelty to Animals Statutes


10-8-59 Cruelty to Animals

They may prohibit cruelty to animals.


76-9-301 Cruelty to Animals.

(1) A person is guilty of cruelty to animals if the person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence:

(a) fails to provide necessary food, care, or shelter for an animal in his custody;

(b) abandons an animal in the person's custody;

(c) transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner;

(d) injures an animal;

(e) causes any animal, not including a dog, to fight with another animal of like kind for amusement or gain; or

(f) causes any animal, including a dog, to fight with a different kind of animal or creature for amusement or gain.

(2) A violation of Subsection (1) is:

(a) a class B misdemeanor if committed intentionally or knowingly; and

(b) a class C misdemeanor if committed recklessly or with criminal negligence.

(3) A person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to an animal if the person: (a) tortures an animal;

(b) administers poison or poisonous substances to an animal without having a legal privilege to do so;

(c) kills or causes to be killed an animal without having a legal privilege to do so.

(4) A violation of Subsection (3) is: (a) a class A misdemeanor if committed intentionally or knowingly;

(b) a class B misdemeanor if committed recklessly; and

(c) a class C misdemeanor if committed with criminal negligence.

(5) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the conduct of the actor towards the animal was:

(a) by a licensed veterinarian using accepted veterinary practice;

(b) directly related to bona fide experimentation for scientific research, provided that if the animal is to be destroyed, the manner employed will not be unnecessarily cruel unless directly necessary to the veterinary purpose or scientific research involved;

(c) permitted under Section 18-1-3;

(d) by a person who humanely destroys any animal found suffering past recovery for any useful purpose; or

(e) by a person who humanely destroys any apparently abandoned animal found on the person's property.

(6) For purposes of Subsection (5)(d), before destroying the suffering animal, the person who is not the owner of the animal shall obtain: (a) the judgment of a veterinarian of the animal's nonrecoverable condition;

(b) the judgment of two other persons called by the person to view the unrecoverable condition of the animal in the person's presence;

(c) the consent from the owner of the animal to the destruction of the animal; or

(d) a reasonable conclusion that the animal's suffering is beyond recovery, through the person's own observation, if the person is in a location or circumstance where the person is unable to contact another person.

(7) This section does not affect or prohibit the training, instruction, and grooming of animals, so long as the methods used are in accordance with accepted husbandry practices.

(8) (a) This section does not affect or prohibit the use of an electronic locating or training collar by the owner of an animal for the purpose of lawful animal training, lawful hunting practices, or protecting against loss of that animal.

(b) County and municipal governments may not prohibit the use of an electronic locating or training collar.

(9) Upon conviction under this section, the court may in its discretion, in addition to other penalties: (a) order the defendant to be evaluated to determine the need for psychiatric or psychological counseling, to receive counseling as the court determines to be appropriate, and to pay the costs of the evaluation and counseling;

(b) require the defendant to forfeit any rights the defendant has to the animal subjected to a violation of this section and to repay the reasonable costs incurred by any person or agency in caring for each animal subjected to violation of this section;

(c) order the defendant to no longer possess or retain custody of any animal, as specified by the court, during the period of the defendant's probation or parole or other period as designated by the court; and

(d) order the animal to be placed for the purpose of adoption or care in the custody of a county and municipal animal control agency, an animal welfare agency registered with the state, sold at public auction, or humanely destroyed.

(10) This section does not prohibit the use of animals in lawful training.

(11) As used in this section: (a) "Abandons" means to intentionally deposit, leave, or drop off any live animal: (i) without providing for the care of that animal; or

(ii) in a situation where conditions present an immediate, direct, and serious threat to the life, safety, or health of the animal.

(b) (i) "Animal" means a live, nonhuman vertebrate creature.

(ii) "Animal" does not include animals kept or owned for agricultural purposes and cared for in accordance with accepted husbandry practices, animals used for rodeo purposes, and does not include protected and unprotected wildlife as defined in Section 23-13-2.

(c) "Custody" means ownership, possession, or control over an animal.

(d) "Legal privilege" means an act authorized by state law, including Division of Wildlife Resources statutes and rules, and conducted in conformance with local ordinances.

(e) "Necessary food, care, and shelter" means appropriate and essential food and other needs of the animal, including veterinary care, and adequate protection against extreme weather conditions.

76-9-301.7 Cruelty to Animals -- Enhanced penalties.

(1) "Conviction" means a conviction by plea or by verdict.

(2) A person who commits any violation of Section 76-9-301, Section 76-9- 301.5, or Subsection 76-9-301.1(4) within the state and on at least one previous occasion has been convicted of violating Section 76-9-301, Section 76- 9-301.5, or Subsection 76-9-301.1(4) shall be subject to an enhanced penalty as provided in Subsection (3).

(3) The enhanced degree of offense for offenses committed under this section are: (a) if the offense is a class C misdemeanor, it is a class B misdemeanor; and

(b) if the offense is a class B misdemeanor, it is a class A misdemeanor.

(4) (a) The prosecuting attorney, or grand jury if an indictment is returned, shall provide written notice upon the information or indictment that the defendant is subject to an enhanced degree of offense or penalty under Subsection (3). The notice shall be served upon the defendant or his attorney not later than ten days prior to trial.

(b) If the notice is not included initially, the court may subsequently allow the prosecutor to amend the charging document to include the notice if the court finds:

(i) that the amended charging documents, including any statement of probable cause, provide notice that the defendant is subject to an enhanced penalty provided under this section; and

(ii) that the defendant has not otherwise been substantially prejudiced by the amendment.

76-9-304 Allowing vicious animal to go at large.

Any owner of a vicious animal, knowing its propensities, who willfully allows it to go at large or who keeps it without ordinary care, and any animal, while at large, or while not kept with ordinary care, causes injury to another animal or to any human being who has taken reasonable precaution which the circumstances permitted, is guilty of a class B misdemeanor unless the animal causes the death of a human being, whereupon the owner is guilty of a felony of the third degree.

76-9-305 Officer's authority to take possession of animals -- Lien for care.

(1) Any law enforcement officer may take possession of any animals being treated cruelly and, after reasonable efforts to notify the owner, may provide shelter and care for them or upon permission from the owner may destroy them.

(2) Officers caring for animals pursuant to this section have a lien for the reasonable value of the care and/or destruction. Any court upon proof that the owner has been notified of the lien and amount due, at least five days prior, shall order the animal sold at public auction or destroyed.

(3) Any law enforcement officer may humanely destroy any animal found suffering past recovery for any useful purpose. Before destroying the animal the officer shall obtain the judgment to the effect of a veterinarian, or of two reputable citizens called by him to view the animal in his presence, or shall obtain consent to the destruction from the owner of the animal.

76-9-306 Police service animals -- Causing injury or interfering with handler -- Penalties.

(1) As used in this section:
(a) "Handler" means a law enforcement officer who is specially trained, and uses a police service animal during the course of the performance of his law enforcement duties.
(b) "Police service animal" means any dog or horse used by a law enforcement agency, which is specially trained for law enforcement work, or any animal contracted to assist a law enforcement agency in the performance of law enforcement duties.

(2) It is a third degree felony for a person to intentionally:
(a) cause bodily injury or death to a police service animal;
(b) engage in conduct likely to cause bodily injury or death to a police service animal;
(c) lay out, place, or administer any poison, trap, substance, or object which is likely to produce bodily injury or death to a police service animal; or
(d) offer or agree with one or more persons to engage in or cause the performance of an act which constitutes a violation of this section.

(3) It is a class A misdemeanor for a person to intentionally or knowingly:
(a) taunt, torment, strike, or otherwise assault a police service animal;
(b) throw any object or substance at, or in the path of, a police service animal;
(c) interfere with or obstruct a police service animal, or attempt to, or interfere with the handler of the animal in a manner that inhibits, restricts, or deprives the handler of his control of the animal;
(d) release a police service animal from its area of control, such as a vehicle, kennel, or pen, or trespass in that area; or
(e) place any food, object, or substance into a police service animal's area of control without the permission of the handler.

(4) A police service animal is exempt from quarantine or other animal control ordinances if it bites any person while under proper police supervision or routine veterinary care. The law enforcement agency and the animal's handler shall make the animal available for examination at any reasonable time and shall notify the local health officer if the animal exhibits any abnormal behavior.

(5) In addition to any other penalty, a person convicted of a violation of this section is liable for restitution to the owning or employing law enforcement agency or individual owner of the police service animal for the replacement, training, and veterinary costs incurred as a result of the violation of this section.

77-23-211 Violation of health, safety, building, or animal cruelty laws or ordinances -- Warrants to obtain evidence.

In addition to other warrants provided by this chapter, magistrates, upon a showing of probable cause to believe a state, county, or city law or ordinance, has been violated in relation to health, safety, building, or animal cruelty, may issue a warrant for the purpose of obtaining evidence of a violation. Warrants may be obtained from a magistrate upon request of peace officers and state, county, and municipal health, fire, building, and animal control personnel only after approval by a prosecuting attorney. A search warrant issued under this section shall be directed to any peace officer within the county where the warrant is to be executed, who shall serve the same. Other concerned personnel may accompany the officer.

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

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