Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence


What Is Animal Cruelty?

According to New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, animals are defined as “every living creature other than a human being [§ 350 (1)], whereby cruelty toward such beings “includes every act, omission, or neglect, whereby unjustifiable physical” [§350 (2)].

Domestic violence abusers frequently abuse pets and companion animals as a tactic of power and control, attempting to instill fear in victims and send a very clear message about their capacity for violence and their ability to destroy the victim’s most personal, valuable property. Abusers use animals to:

What Can Law Enforcement Do?

Every state makes animal cruelty a statutory offense. New York State embodies these laws under Article 26 of the Agricultural and Markets Law where, in Section 371, it states in part:

"A constable or police officer must, and any agent or officer of any duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals may, summon or arrest, and bring before a court or magistrate having jurisdiction, any person offending against any of the provisions of Article 26 of the agriculture and markets law.”

Signs of animal abuse should always be documented and reported to the appropriate agency empowered to investigate animal cruelty. The ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Division is the law enforcement arm of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The agency enforces animal related laws, and investigates cases of animal cruelty.

What Can Victim Advocates and Domestic Violence Shelters Do?

When working with victims of domestic violence where pet/animal abuse is alleged or suspected, consider all of the following:

*Effective in New York State as of July 26, 2006, companion animals may be added to an order of protection issued in a criminal court or Family Court requiring the respondent to refrain from intentionally injuring or killing any companion animal the respondent knows to be owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by the petitioner or a minor child living in the household. Companion animals/pets are defined as a dog, cat or any other domesticated animal that lives in or near the household, but does not include farm animals.

Additional Resources