“Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
—George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

Throwing a dog into oncoming traffic on a freeway. Starving a horse to death. Leaving newborn kittens on the street. These are all cases of animal cruelty that have been reported in the media. Arizona law makes cruelty to animals a crime.

A person may be guilty of cruelty to animals if he subjects an animal to cruel neglect or abandonment; fails to provide medical attention necessary to prevent protracted suffering; inflicts unnecessary physical injury on an animal; subjects an animal to cruel mistreatment; kills or harms an animal without the owner’s consent; leaves an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle where physical injury or death is likely to result; allows a dog to kill or injure a service animal; or exerts unauthorized control over a service animal. An “animal” is defined by law as a mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian.

It is not cruelty to animals to expose poison to a dog that has killed or wounded livestock or to other predatory animals on property owned by the person seeking to protect himself, or his livestock or poultry. A warning notice in such cases must be posted on the property. A person may also use poisons on his property to control rodents, excluding any fur-bearing animals.

The law does not prohibit normal hunting activities, or activities regulated by the Arizona Game and Fish Depart­ment or the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

In cases involving cruelty to animals, the state must gener­ally prove that the person charged acted intentionally, know­ingly or recklessly. A person who violates the state’s cruelty to animals law is guilty of either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the nature of the cruel acts. In addition, any city, town or county is allowed to adopt an ordinance with misde­meanor provisions for cruelty to animals. A person found guilty of cruelty to animals under state law or a local ordi­nance may be sentenced to jail and/or fined, and may be required to pay damages to the owner of the animal.


The above article is an excerpt from Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, 2nd Edition (Fenestra Books, 2012), by Donald A. Loose, republished with the author’s permission. 

Disclaimer: Laws change constantly. Specific legal advice should be obtained regarding any legal matter. The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created. 

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Don Loose Author
Lawyer | Loose Law Group | View My Profile

Don likes to target shoot, scuba dive, and pilot airplanes.  Most recently, he has been working on his golf handicap.  Don enjoys writing, reading, and spending time with his wife, twin sons, and golden retriever, Lucy.

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