Getting more quality time with our pets has been one of the silver linings of this year. For many of us, our pets have provided a great deal of support and comfort from the stress of COVID-19. Sadly, not all pets have a safe or enjoyable experience at home. Spending more time at home has brought to light many issues within our communities, including animal abuse. Animal abuse occurs on a broad spectrum and can entail anything from neglecting necessities such as food, water, shelter, or medical care to intentional harm such as poisoning, hitting, or profit utilization.
Reporting animal abuse to law enforcement is an essential first step in breaking this cycle and beginning criminal prosecution. Many animal welfare organizations do fantastic work to help prevent and support animals who have experienced abuse. Still, to ensure those involved are held accountable, it’s necessary first to inform law enforcement. In Arizona, a law enforcement agency is the only authority able to seize an animal, collect evidence, and arrest a suspect of animal abuse. After they do so, animal welfare organizations like the Humane Society can transport and care for seized animals involved in an investigation until they are ready to be adopted.
When animal abuse is reported to law enforcement, it also serves as an indicator that other violent criminal activity may be taking place due to the strong correlation between perpetrators of animal abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence. In many cases, when animal abuse is not reported, the activity increases in frequency and severity and increases the risk of harm for others in the household.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is committed to making sure those involved in a crime against animals are held accountable for their actions. In Arizona, those who intentionally harm or witness the intentional harm of an animal can be charged with a class 5 felony, which can include jail time, fines, and probation.
Help your community by reporting any instance or suspicion of abuse to your local law enforcement or the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office at 602-876-1011. If you believe an animal is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call 911.
If you have any information about an unsolved felony animal cruelty case in Maricopa County, call Silent Witness at 480-948-6377.
To learn more about animal abuse laws in Arizona, visit AZLEG.gov/ars/13/02910.htm