Animal Cruelty

Teenager Arrested for Suspicion of Felony Animal Cruelty (CA Penal Code 597)

A young man (19) from Sierra foothills has been arrested on suspicion of felony cruelty to animals.  Law enforcement officials in Sonora were surprised to hear from the manager of an apartment complex in that same area, who showed them video surveillance footage of the teen as he kills a cat, having swung it around by the tail and thrust it to the ground.  When later identified and questioned, the young man’s explanation was this:  he had been bitten by a cat at the apartment complex about 1 week before and purposefully drive there find the cat that did it and exact his revenge.  Upon being unable to find the exact cat that bit him previously, he found the first cat around and proceeded to take out his anger on that animal.

California law is quite strict when it comes to the human treatment of animals.  In fact, the laws in this state are some of the most severe across the nation. CA Penal Code 597 addresses both the abuse of animals and ‘animal cruelty.’  Animals considered protected under this law are any domestic pets, any ‘stray’ animals, any farm animals, and wild animals.  What constitutes ‘cruelty to animals,’ however, is less easily defined.  Generally, California animal cruelty laws apply whenever a particular animal has been neglected or abused in any way.  This includes many purposeful behaviors, such as disfiguring, mutilating, wounding, torturing, or, of curse, killing an animal.  The law also covers many different forms of neglect, like deprivation of food and hydration and leaving pets or other cared-for animals in untenable outdoor situations during inclement weather.

Violation of CA PC 597 is a California ‘wobbler,’ meaning that prosecutors take your criminal history and the specific facts of your case into account when determining whether to treat your crime as a misdemeanor or as a felony.  A person convicted of a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge will likely be sentenced to 1 year in county jail and be subject to a $20,000 fine.  However, as in the case above, if felony cruelty to animals is the charge, penalties are severe, including the same $20,000 in fines, but up to 3 years in state prison.  Those convicted of this type of felony may also be asked to participate in state-approved counseling sessions.

Suspect will Face Animal Cruelty Charges in Watsonville Case (CA Penal Code 597)

Although we don’t often think about it, California Penal Code 597 (Animal Abuse & Cruelty) is an unfortunate necessity.  The need for this type of law was, perhaps, recently proven in a gruesome case concerning two small dogs, a 4-year-old mother miniature pinscher and her 4-week old puppy, who were unceremoniously stuffed into old sandbags and thrown from a car window on a dead-end street near Watsonville.  Unfortunately, when animal rescuers arrived at the scene after the incident was reported, the mother was found grieving over the body of her puppy.  She refused to leave him and was not calmed until his body was placed in the animal control van with her.  Now, several different groups are offering a $250,000 total reward for any information that leads to the arrest of the person or persons who are responsible for this inhumane crime.

California has always stood at the forefront when it comes to progressive laws that protect animals.  In fact, the state has some of the harshest animal cruelty laws in the nation.  CA Penal Code 597 addressed many different types of abuse and cruelty toward animals, including wounding, mutilating or maiming an animal.  There are also regulations against intentionally killing an animal, torturing an animal, or depriving them of necessary nutrition and/or hydration.

Depending on the specific facts of a particular case, animal cruelty laws provide for both misdemeanor and felony charges.  In other words, many animal cruelty laws are ‘wobblers,’ meaning that it is up to prosecutors whether they will treat an individual case as a misdemeanor or a felony.  Misdemeanor animal cruelty penalties include a $20,000 fine and up to 1 year in county jail.  However, felony animal cruelty charges can be far more serious.  In fact, besides facing a 3-year sentence in state prison and a $20,000 fine, those convicted could also be subjected to state-ordered counseling and/or additional penalties for the use of a deadly weapon in the case.


Santa Rosa Man Arrested on Felony Charges of Animal Cruelty (CA Penal Code 597)

It is a simple fact of human existence that people love their pets – oftentimes, just as much as they love other human beings.  Pets become official family members, extremely important to our well-being and happiness.  Yet, many of us have also had to deal with that sad moment in which we have to decide between our own desire to keep our pets around and their quality of life.  Making that decision can be one of the most difficult things we have to deal with in our lives and it often comes at a high emotional price.  Still, we refuse to let the animals that we love suffer and we take that necessary step out or respect for our companions.  However, a 34-year-old man from Santa Rosa (name withheld to protect the accused’s identity) was recently arrested on charges of felony animal cruelty when he attempted to euthanize his pet dog, Shadow, on his own, instead of with the help of a veterinarian.

According to California law, there is a vast difference between offering a respectful and peaceful send-off for our pets and animal cruelty.  This past March, Shadow was found in a shallow pool of water with neck wounds and legs tied.  It has been assumed that this case is one of animal cruelty and not one of an effort to end a beloved pet’s life as peacefully as possible.

If convicted, an individual charged with animal cruelty could face several different penalties.  Technically, this crime is considered a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it is up to prosecutors as to whether to treat it as a misdemeanor or a felony (CA Penal Code 597).  A felony violation of the aforementioned law could result in up to 3 years in state prison and a $20,000 fine.  Additionally, if it can be proven that there was extreme cruelty in the case, then there may be an additional year added to the sentence.


Man Convicted of Animal Cruelty in Redwood City (CA Penal Code 597)

Even law enforcement officials and courts have agreed that 32-year-old Redwood City man (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) must be in need of psychiatric assistance. He spent weeks torturing, and finally killing, his girlfriend and her daughter’s (4) young terrier puppy (4 months), Lucky.  Finally suffocating the pet, he placed the pup in a sack and carried him off in some kind of sack.  Before that, however,  the woman and her young daughter watched as he hung the puppy from a showerhead in a duffle bag just to hear it whimper and whine, sprayed toxic cleaners in its eyes, punched, and kicked it.  He was arrested on charges of animal cruelty and given the maximum 3-year sentence in county jail.  However, as he has already been incarcerated for 2 of those 3 years, he was sentenced to serve out his last year of the term in a psychiatric facility, where he will hopefully receive the treatment he needs.

In California, some say that, though charges of animal cruelty are taken seriously, the penalties are not nearly harsh enough (CA Penal Code 597).  Under this law, domestic animals, as well as strays, wild animals, and farm animals are protected.  However, most cases of animal cruelty in the state are not as ‘cut and dry’ as this case. Often, individuals are wrongly prosecuted under this law, especially when over zealous activist groups get involved.  There are so many different ways in which to violate this law that even prosecutors and law enforcement officials have a difficult time determining whether actual abuse has occurred.  Animal torture is a serious thing indeed and when an animal is beaten, mutilated, or otherwise tormented or tortured to its death, it is the responsibility of law enforcement to protect these innocents.  Yet, how, when, and whether abuse has actually occurred is a far more difficult thing to figure out, leading to false accusations and wrongful imprisonment.


Daly City Man Arrested on Felony Animal Abuse Charges of Cockfighting (CA Penal Code 597)

The practice of cockfighting has a long history both domestically and abroad.  In fact, it has been in existence for at least 6,000 years.  It is popular in countries like Cuba and is still popular in the United States, despite the efforts of lawmakers and animal rights activists’ attempts to end the practice altogether.  Louisiana was the last state to outlaw the sport in 2008, but there are many people who still believe it to be a true gaming practice, a way of life, and an integral part of certain cultures rather than the barbaric treatment of living things.  Whatever your opinion, you’ll be interested in the following story.

56-year-old (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) was recently arrested on charges of felony animal abuse for running a cockfighting setup in Broadmoor, near Daly City.  Evidently, citizens in the area had begun to notice that roosters could be heard fighting behind a particular restaurant.  Law enforcement officials arrived at the scene and eventually found at least 12 roosters and 8 chickens in his possession.  They were easily identified as gamecocks that were used for the purpose of fighting.

He pled no contest and has been sentenced to probation and 3 months in county jail.  However, according to California Penal Code 597 (the law concerning animal abuse and animal cruelty), 597(b), 597(c), 597(i), and 597(j) all apply specifically to cockfighting.  Usually, if you allow someone to have a cockfight knowingly, or manufacture, buy, sell, possess, etc. any piece of equipment used for such fights, or possessing (or training) a gamecock for the express purposes of entering it into a fight, the law calls for a $5,000 fine and 2 year in county jail.  Even if you are simply caught as a spectator, you may face up to 6 months in county (a misdemeanor) and a $1,000 fine.  However, his charges are more serious, he has been charged with a felony.  In order for that to be the case, this must not be his first offense.  He was lucky to receive so little time in prison, considering the law.


San Francisco Neighborhoods Continue to be Plagued with Poisonous Meatballs (CA Penal Code 596)

Meatballs suspected of being laced with strychnine, or some other similar poison, were first found in San Francisco neighborhoods some months ago when a dachshund was killed.  Now dozens of these small dangerous spheres have been found around the Twin Peaks, Outer Richmond areas and recently La Playa Street.

  No suspects have been identified in this particular case, but California law is quite strict when it comes to the purposeful poisoning of other people’s pets.  This particular bandit seems to be keen to kill off innocent animals as the meatballs have been placed in areas that human beings may not immediately take notice of, in bushes, behind stairwells, and other similar spots.  Besides animals cruelty, it is also illegal and a felony to place poisoned items in the path of animals as well (CA Penal Code 596).

Though such a charge is technically a wobbler (it is up to the prosecution to determine whether they will consider it a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the crime). In this case, the suspect could be charged with a felony as one pet was made seriously ill by one of the meatballs and another passed away.  Penalties for violations of this law include a $20,000 fine and 1 year in state prison.


Zoo Visitor Accused of Animal Cruelty in Monterey (CA Penal Code 597)

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is home to a variety of protected marine species, including everything from otters to kelp forests and underwater canyons.  One of the larger species of marine life that lives in the 4,601 square nautical miles that the sanctuary encompasses is the killer whale.  What many Californians may not be aware of, however, is that feeding one of 13 specifically protected animal species, particularly killer whales, within the sanctuary is actually against the law, as one famous marine biologist found out recently.

Authorities say that 50-year-old (name withheld to protect the anonymity of the accused) should have known better than to illegally feed the killer whales in Monterey Bay, charged with animal cruelty (CA Penal Code 597).  Why? Well, among other things, she is the proprietor of Monterey Bay Whale Watch, a whale-watching business.  She therefore must have been aware of the fact that feeding a killer whale is a misdemeanor charge, an infringement upon the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Now, she faces a $12,000 fine and 300 hours of community service.

It wasn’t the first time she had come up against this particular law.  She’d already admitted having given food to the protected species on at least 2 other occasions.  The Marine Mammal Protection Act (otherwise known as MMPA) was originally enacted in October of 1972 and, as it turns out, she seems to have gotten away with a pretty small fine and sentence.  According to the MMPA, fines can reach up to $100,000 for ignoring the law and an individual might find themselves in prison for 1 year for individuals. If a corporation or other organization violates the law, fines may reach $200,000 and forfeiture of cargo if committed using a seafaring vessel.


Thief to Face Animal Cruelty Charges for Tossing Cats into Bay (CA Penal Code 597)

When a San Francisco resident (name withheld for privacy) set out for an excursion at Pier 14, it is certain that she never imagined being robed, much less losing two beloved pets.  Strangely and suddenly, a man approached her and proceeded to grab all of her belongings away from her, including the two cat carriers she was holding.  The man, said to have been wearing a black hoodie, then in a random gesture threw all of her possessions into the San Francisco Bay.

In the state of California, animal abuse and/or cruelty is against the law.  According to (CA Penal Code 597), every type of animal is protected under this measure, from farm animals to strays.  As long as the animal in question has been the victim of either abuse or neglect, an individual may be prosecuted on these charges. The mysterious man could eventually be arrested for robbery by ‘maliciously, intentionally, or cruelly killing of an animal’ for having thrown her beloved pets into the Bay.

Charges of animal cruelty are a wobbler in California, meaning that they may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or as a felony.  If the man is eventually found and convicted of a misdemeanor charge, he could face a maximum fine of $20,000 and 1 year in county jail. However, if the case is prosecuted as a felony, he could face up to 3 years in state prison, $20,000 fine, in addition to possibly forced to seek counseling.


City of Hayward Pays Civil Settlement: Man Dead After Being Bitten by Police Dog (CA Civil Code §3342)

Even though they were searching for men that didn’t match his description – and robbery suspects at that – local law enforcement officers Loring and Cox found 89-year-old Jesse Porter instead.  On May 29, 2011, Porter was in his own yard, behind an 8-foot tall wall, when “Nicky”, Officer Cox’s well-trained police dog was commanded to leap over the barrier.  A shocked Mr. Porter was then “brutally and relentlessly mauled” by Nicky; his left leg suffered the most damage, as the dog dragged him for a ways before releasing his grasp.  After the incident, Porter’s leg worsened; in fact, he developed gangrene, it was necessary for the leg to be amputated. The leg injury led to a further decline in his general health and Porter died approximately 2 months after the occurrence.

Porter’s family promptly filed a civil rights suit against the city of Hayward that has now resulted, years later, in a $1.5 million settlement.  The argument for a settlement was not solely based on the fact that the two Hayward officers had unnecessarily and unreasonably harmed an innocent person – it turns out that “Nicky” had a history of violent behavior that had been left unchecked.  In fact, the dog had bitten close to 29 other persons before Mr. Porter – most of whom were not the suspects he was after.

According to CA Civil Code §3342, the owner of a dog is responsible for any damages – injury or otherwise – that the animal causes.  Clearly, this law extends to those canines that have been trained for police work – especially when that dog has a history of biting innocent people.

Poisoned Meatballs Give San Francisco Pet Owners Cause to Worry (CA Penal Code §596)

It sounds like the beginning of a bad B-horror movie or a cruel prank.  Poisoned meatballs have evidently been left in various public areas in Diamond Heights and Twin Peaks – ostensibly with the purpose of causing serious harm to local pups and other pets.  One dog even had a close brush with death after having ingested one of these meatballs on its morning walk.

No one yet knows what kind of poison will be found in the cooked meatballs – some of which were found near Crestline Drive and others at Burnett Avenue – or why someone seems to be attempting to harm neighborhood pets.  Is this someone who simply hates dogs or a scheme to eliminate one pet that has gotten out of control? We may never know the answer to that question, but what is sure is that this kind of behavior is absolutely against California law.

Willfully poisoning animals – or, in this case, leaving a poisoned substance with the intent that an animal will swallow it – falls under the “Malicious Mischief” section of the CA Penal Code §596.  This makes it a misdemeanor to purposefully give an animal poison without the consent of said pet’s owner.  There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, including the fact that property owners may rid themselves of “predatory animals” or dogs who are attempting to kill livestock.  Even in this last case, however, it is necessary to post the appropriate warning signs before setting out poisoned bait for predatory animals.