Animal Cruelty Laws in Virginia
For some, it is funny. That is why it ended up on pages for “news of the weird.” For others, it is no laughing matter.
The world has picked up on the latest news out of nearby Waynesboro, Virginia. Someone has stolen seven different cats over the last six months, shaved them in specific places, and then secretly returned them to their owners. This person has not yet been found.
To this point, none of the cats appear to have been harmed. That could be good if this person is ever caught. The problem for him or her is the vast nature of animal cruelty laws in Virginia.
Animal Cruelty Laws in Virginia:
Virginia has a multi-layered law on the books to define cruelty toward an animal as a crime. To count as animal cruelty, there needs to be some sort of injury and pain, deprivation, tying to a vehicle, etc. Anyone who is found guilty of any of the six definitions of animal cruelty is subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Any regular readers of this blog know by now the potential punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum jail sentence is twelve months. The maximum fine is $2,500. It is also possible for a combination of the two.
Repeat offenders are subject to a Class 6 felony. Aside from the stigma of the felony charge, there is a chance for an increased sentence in jail. The law allows for up to 5 years.
The Michael Vick Case:
Animal cruelty laws can go well beyond these consequences. Probably the most famous case of animal cruelty in Virginia is the 2007 Michael Vick dog fighting case. He ended up facing federal charges and was given a 23-month prison sentence. He served around 18 of those months before being released.
He was also charged with two state crimes: unlawfully torturing and killing dogs and promoting dog fights. These were obviously specific to this particular case, and the consequences had the chance to be severe. Both charges are considered felonies in Virginia; each had the potential for significant prison time. Considering the result and depending on your point of view, Vick was fortunate to only serve 18 months.
More Animal Laws:
That is not the end of the potential felony charges. Take, for example, the larceny statute that makes stealing pets a felony on its own. The law specifically states that “all dogs and cats shall be deemed personal property and may be the subject of larceny and malicious or unlawful trespass.” Elsewhere in the Code of Virginia, it is specifically stated that “larceny of a dog, horse, pony, mule, cow, steer, bull, or calf” is a Class 5 felony, with other stipulations in place to allow for a Class 6 felony instead.
That brings us back to our Waynesboro cat thief/borrower. If caught, he or she may need a defense attorney. If you are ever in a scenario where you are facing charges in the area of the treatment of animals, call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
Case Results Disclaimer:
Every legal matter is different. The outcome of each legal case depends upon many factors, including the facts of the case, and no attorney can guarantee a positive result in any particular case. The outcome of every case will depend on a variety of factors unique to each case and case results depicted here do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.
Attorney/Client Relationship Disclaimer:
This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this website should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship.
Blog Content Disclaimer:
The blog posts contained on this website were written, in part, by a non-lawyer employee of Jordan B. Davies. However, each post has been carefully reviewed and edited by Jordan B. Davies to ensure legal accuracy and compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.