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Delaware
Anti-Cruelty Statutes

DELAWARE CODE
TITLE 11. CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I. DELAWARE CRIMINAL CODE
CHAPTER 5. SPECIFIC OFFENSES

SUBCHAPTER VII. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH, ORDER AND DECENCY
SUBPART A. RIOT, DISORDERLY CONDUCT AND RELATED OFFENSES

§ 1325. Cruelty to animals; class A misdemeanor; class F felony

A. For the purpose of this section, the following words and phrases shall include, but not be limited to, the meanings respectively ascribed to them as follows:

  • (1)"Cruel" includes every act or omission to act whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused or permitted.
  • (2)"Cruel mistreatment" includes any treatment whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused or permitted.
  • (3) "Cruel neglect" includes neglect of an animal, which is under the care and control of the neglector, whereby pain or suffering is caused to the animal or abandonment of any domesticated animal by its owner or custodian. By way of example, cruel neglect shall also include allowing an animal to live in unsanitary conditions, such as keeping an animal where the animal's own excrement is not removed from the animal's living area and/or other living conditions which are injurious to the animal's health.
  • (4) "Cruelty to animals" includes mistreatment of any animal or neglect of any animal under the care and control of the neglector, whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused. By way of example this includes: Unjustifiable beating of an animal; overworking an animal; tormenting an animal; abandonment of an animal; failure to feed properly or give proper shelter or veterinary care to an animal. B. Cruelty to animals is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • (5) "Person" includes any individual, partnership, corporation or association living and/or doing business in the State.
  • (6) "Abandonment" includes completely forsaking or deserting an animal originally under one's custody without making reasonable arrangements for custody of that animal to be assumed by another person.
  • (7) "Custody" includes the responsibility for the welfare of an animal subject to one's care and control whether one owns it or not.
  • (8) "Proper feed" includes providing each animal with daily food and water of sufficient quality and quantity to prevent unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering by the animal.
  • (9) "Proper shelter" includes providing each animal with adequate shelter from the weather elements as required to prevent unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering by the animal.
  • (10) "Proper veterinary care" includes providing each animal with veterinary care sufficient to prevent unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering by the animal.
  • (11) "Animal" shall not include fish, crustacea or molluska.
  • (12) "Serious injury" shall include any injury to any animal which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes prolonged impairment of health or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.

B. A person is guilty of cruelty to animals when the person intentionally or recklessly:

  • (1) Subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment; or
  • (2) Subjects any animal in the person's custody to cruel neglect; or
  • (3) Kills or injures any animal belonging to another person without legal privilege or consent of the owner; or
  • (4) Cruelly or unnecessarily kills or injures any animal whether belonging to the actor or another. This section does not apply to the killing of any animal normally or commonly raised as food for human consumption, provided that such killing is not cruel. A person acts unnecessarily if the act is not required to terminate an animal's suffering, to protect the life or property of the actor or another person or if other means of disposing of an animal exist which would not impair the health or well-being of that animal; or
  • (5) Captures, detains, transports, removes or delivers any animal known to be a domestic farm animal, pet or companion animal, or any other animal of scientific, environmental, economic or cultural value, under false pretenses to any public or private animal shelter, veterinary clinic or other facility, or otherwise causes the same through acts of deception or misrepresentation of the circumstances and disposition of any such animal.

Paragraphs (1), (2) and (4) of this subsection are inapplicable to accepted veterinary practices and activities carried on for scientific research.
Cruelty to animals is a class A misdemeanor, unless the person intentionally kills or causes serious injury to any animal in violation of paragraph (4) of this subsection or unless the animal is killed or seriously injured as a result of any action prohibited by paragraph (5), in which case it is a class F felony.


(c) Any person convicted of a misdemeanor violation of this section shall be prohibited from owning or possessing any animal for 5 years after said conviction, except for animals grown, raised or produced within the State for resale, or for sale of a product thereof, where the person has all necessary licenses for such sale or resale, and receives at least 25 percent of the person's annual gross income from such sale or resale. Any person convicted of a second or subsequent misdemeanor violation of this section shall be prohibited from owning or possessing any animal for 5 years after said conviction without exception.
A violation of this subsection is subject to a fine in the amount of $ 1,000 in any court of competent jurisdiction and to forfeiture of any animal illegally owned in accordance with the provisions of 3 Del. C. § 7904.

(d) Any person convicted of a felony violation of this section shall be prohibited from owning or possessing any animal for 15 years after said conviction, except for animals grown, raised or produced within the State for resale, or for sale of a product thereof, where the person has all necessary licenses for such sale or resale, and receives at least 25 percent of the person's annual gross income from such sale or resale. Any person convicted of a second or subsequent felony violation of this section shall be prohibited from owning or possessing any animal for 15 years after said conviction without exception.
A violation of this subsection is subject to a fine in the amount of $ 5,000 in any court of competent jurisdiction and to forfeiture of any animal illegally owned in accordance with the provisions of 3 Del. C. § 7904.

(e) Any agent of the Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or, in Kent County of this State, of the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, may impound an animal owned or possessed in apparent violation of this section, consistent with 3 Del. C. § 7904.

(f) This section shall not apply to the lawful hunting or trapping of animals as provided by law.

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