In all jurisdictions in the United States, cruelty to animals is against the law, and Wagoner, Oklahoma is no exception.
It is important to understand what constitutes cruelty to animals in Oklahoma.
How Does Oklahoma Define Cruelty to Animals?
Oklahoma law defines animals as mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and the like — both wild and domesticated. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.1
That means that the animals covered in the law include wild animals as well as domesticated animals.
In Oklahoma, animal cruelty is defined as willful or malicious torturing, destruction, beating, maiming, mutilation, or killing of any animal, regardless of ownership, both wild and domesticated, or causing, procuring or allowing that to happen to an animal. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1685
Other acts of actionable animal cruelty include depriving an animal of necessary food, drink, shelter, or veterinary care to prevent suffering; and willfully 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
Cruelty to animals is a felony in Oklahoma. And punishments are harsh. Courts have a great deal of discretion in sentencing. If convicted in Oklahoma, you could face up to five years in prison or one year in the county jail. In addition, you could face a possible fine of up to $5,000, or both prison and a fine.
Most people don’t set out to be cruel to an animal. But it can and does happen, often when there are too many animals in one location, or the animals are neglected or live outside, chained in 100-plus degree heat. It can happen if you willfully leave an animal in a hot car. It can happen when a person beats an animal.
Intent is part of the statute. The cruelty must be done willfully or maliciously. This can be difficult to prove. But if the mistreatment of the animal is severe enough, it may be inferred from the animal’s condition.
Veterinarians Are Mandated Reporters
Vets are required to report suspected abuse to law enforcement within 24 hours of examining the animal. This report is then investigated. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.3
Any abused or neglected animal may then be removed by a peace officer or animal control officer and not returned until and unless the owner meets terms specified by the animal control officer. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.4
Other Forms of Cruelty to Animals
Willfully administering poison to any animal or maliciously exposing an animal to poisonous substances may also result in a felony conviction in Oklahoma. The crime is punishable by up to three years in prison, or up to one year in county jail, or a fine up to $250, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1681
Merely abandoning an animal along a road or any other place is a misdemeanor. Any form of animal abandonment is against the law in Oklahoma outside of surrendering an animal to a shelter. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1691
The crime is punishable by a fine from $100 to $500, or by up to one year in county jail, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1692
If you have questions or concerns, bring them to an experienced Wagoner criminal law defense attorney.
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