It’s 2016, And Animal Cruelty is Still Not A Felony…

…in all 50 states.  At least, not in the sense you’d like it to be.

A wonderful article just came across to us from the wonderful people at Vice News.  But while the headline of the article may be appealing to many, it gives a double dose of the wrong impression.  In an effort to prevent the spread of misinformation, we’d like to take a moment to remind people that animal cruelty is still sadly not treated a felony in all 50 states.  So you remember that graphic that was going around claiming it was earlier in 2015?  There may be provisions for it being so – but it is rarely treated as such.

John Sibley did a wonderful write-up talking about this misinformation campaign on his site, In Dog We Trust:

This has been widely misunderstood, both by the press and the general public. It does not mean that animal cruelty is now a federal crime, it does not mean that people who abuse animals will be prosecuted differently or get stiffer sentences, it does not mean that the FBI intends to get involved or is involved in state or local cruelty cases. It is simply a change in the way they track crime data. And that’s important, and a step forward – it’s a signal that they agree it should be taken seriously. But that’s all it is.

So, when you see all of the headlines reading that “The FBI Now Considers Animal Cruelty a Class A Felony”, that is entirely not true.  It is factually false information.  Here’s what the FBI actually says about animal cruelty (there is also a podcast that the FBI posted last year regarding how this system works and defining what it actually is):

Beginning in January 2016, data collection will begin for the newest UCR Program initiative—animal cruelty offenses—requested by the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Animal Welfare Institute.

That being said, there is an increase of animal welfare legislation that is taking place right here in the Tri-State region.  We have laws in place such as the one enacted by Illinois that penalizes leaving a dog in extreme weather conditions.  Or this other law in Cook County, Illinois that has banned the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores. There’s also a state-sized proposal of the same variety in Illinois.  In Iowa, there are activists working to introduce that it be against the law to leave a dog chained outdoors for extended periods of time.

Both Iowa and Illinois are under pressure to increase penalties and actions on puppy mills.

However, as wonderful as this may all seem, this is the extent of animal welfare in our neighborhood.  There are many states where animal cruelty is still either a misdemeanor or is not considered a violation at all, despite the fact that there are provisions in place.  States such as Pennsylvania, Missouri and Kentucky appear to be some of the largest offenders of this.  We ask that if anyone sees posts claiming that “the FBI is getting involved” – please take it with a heaping dose of salt.  The only involvement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will have starting this year is adding a list.  However, the most likely reason behind this is because of animal abuses indicator of violent behavior.

The more you know.


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