Oklahoma law covers two major areas of animal protection: cruelty to animals and animal fighting. Both are against the law, and both carry penalties if you break the law. Learn more about how prosecutors treat cruelty to animals in Oklahoma.
Defining Cruelty To Animals In Oklahoma
Oklahoma law protects both wild and domesticated animals. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.1
Animal cruelty is defined as the willful or malicious torturing, destruction, beating, maiming, mutilation, or killing of any animal, regardless of ownership and regardless of whether the animal is wild or domesticated.
Depriving an animal of necessary food, drink, shelter, or veterinary care to prevent suffering, constitutes animal cruelty under Oklahoma law.
Also, animal cruelty is also defined as willfully setting on foot, instigating, engaging in, or furthering any act of cruelty to an animal, or any act which produces cruelty to an animal. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1685
The laws are broad and include all sorts of acts from neglect to physical torture of an animal.
Veterinarians And Mandated Reporting
Veterinarians are mandated reporters under Oklahoma law. Thus, if a person brings in an animal for care and the vet suspects that the animal has been either neglected or treated cruelly, the veterinarian is required to report that suspected abuse to law enforcement within 24 hours.
The report includes information regarding the animal and the name and address of the owner. Any report made in good faith by the veterinarian exempts the veterinarian from any civil liability for making the report. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.3
Ay animal which is being abused may be removed from an owner or caregiver by a police or animal control officer. An abused animal may be returned to the owner provided certain terms and conditions regarding the animal’s care and condition are met. Failure to meet these terms can result in impoundment of the animal at the owner’s expense.
Sometimes, an abused animal is beyond saving and must be euthanized. This may be done without the owner’s permission and at the owner’s expense if the situation warrants it. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.4
Poisoning Animals Is Prohibited
Willfully administering or exposing an animal to poison is a felony in Stillwater, Oklahoma. You could spend up to a year in jail or up to three years in prison. A fine of up to $250 may be assessed in addition to or in lieu of incarceration. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1681
Abandoning Animals Is Prohibited
Abandoning an animal on the street or road is against the law. This is considered to be cruelty to animals. It is a misdemeanor to abandon any live dog, cat, or other domesticated animal along any road or any other place with the intention of abandoning the animal. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1691
An animal may also be considered to be abandoned if a person moves away and leaves the animal, stops feeding it, or allows it to wander or stray onto another’s property with the intention of surrendering ownership or custody.
When an animal is abandoned, a peace or animal control officer may arrange for the animal to be humanely destroyed. The crime is punishable by a fine between $100 and $500, up to a year in jail, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1692
Penalties For Cruelty To Animals
You could spend up to a year in jail or up to five years in prison for this crime. A judge may assess a fine of up to $5,000 in addition to or in lieu of incarceration.
The court has a great deal of discretion in the sentence imposed in order to determine a sentence appropriate to the act of cruelty involved. (King v. State, 130 P.2d 105 (Okla.Crim.App. 1942).)
If you have questions or concerns regarding animal cruelty laws in Oklahoma, bring them to an experienced Stillwater criminal law defense attorney.
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