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About Metro Richmond Crime Solvers

Animal Cruelty is a Crime in Virginia

Animal cruelty is a broad term that encompasses many different crimes and Virginia takes each crime seriously. Virginia has extensive animal cruelty laws that apply to domestic pets, wildlife and farm animals. There are general animal cruelty laws as well as specific laws against animal fighting, animal abandonment and keeping animals in inadequate living conditions.

Four Common Categories of Animal Cruelty Experienced by Domestic Pets

Four Common Categories of Animal Cruelty Experienced by Domestic Pets

  1. Physical harm and abuse: Animals that are physically abused, ill-treated, beaten, tortured, or willfully injured.
  2. Animal fighting: Promote, prepare for, engage in, attend, aid or abet, or be employed in, the fighting of animals, including dogs and cocks, for amusement, sport, or gain.
  3. Abandonment and neglect: Abandoning any animal, wether belonging to oneself or another without access to clean food and water and adequate medical care.
  4. Chained or tethered animals: Tether or chain an unattended animal continuously or for long periods depriving them from adequate space, exercise, shelter, food, water or emergency medical care. Animals tethered outside when the temperature is either above 85 degrees or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Animal Cruelty Laws in Virginia

 

Animal Cruelty Laws in Virginia

The punishment and penalties for animal cruelty depends on the specific offense and repeat offense. Generally, most acts of animal cruelty are considered Class 1 misdemeanors while others, including dogfighting, are considered Class 6 felonies. Both can result in fines and jail time. Felony offenses carry harsher penalties, including larger fines and longer jail sentences.

On July 1, 2019, a new animal cruelty law called “Tommie’s Law” went into effect in Virginia making it a felony to abuse cats and dogs regardless if the animal lives or dies. Before the new law, animal cruelty would only be considered a crime if the animal died as a result of the mistreatment or neglect.

Visit Virginia’s Legislative Information System to learn more about Virginia animal cruelty code of laws and penalties.

golden colored dog looking up with text Animals rely on you to protect them by reporting animal cruelty

Recognize the Signs of Animal Cruelty and Neglect

Recognize the Signs of Animal Cruelty and Neglect

  • Open wounds and sores, multiple scars
  • Untreated skin conditions or evidence of parasite infestation, including fleas and ticks, or illness, including wheezing or discharge from nose, mouth or eyes
  • Sagging skin and protruding bones
  • Weakness, lethargy or inability to walk, stand, eat or drink
  • Overgrown nails and fur, or inadequate grooming
  • Tethered or chained left unsupervised for extended periods of time or left without shelter, food or water
  • Caged or kenneled animals without adequate space or exercise
  • Unsanitary living conditions

Keep Your Pets Safe

Keep Your Pets Safe

  • Adhere to local leash and pet waste laws.
  • Never leave an animal unattended in a car.
  • Supervise your pet at all times.
  • If you keep your pet outside, provide adequate shelter from the elements, clean food and water. Bring animals indoors during extreme conditions and weather emergencies.
  • Register your animals and be sure their rabies and identification tags are secure.
  • Vaccinate and provide adequate medical care, shelter, food, and water.

Report an Animal Cruelty Tip Safely and Anonymously

Report an Animal Cruelty Tip Safely and Anonymously

If you have information related to suspected animal cruelty, abuse, or neglect you can safely and anonymously submit a tip through MRCS:

You will remain anonymous. We don’t need to know who you are.

Animal Related Emergencies

Animal Related Emergencies

If you witness an animal emergency or an animal is in imminent danger call 9 1 1.

Call the TipLine

804-780-1000

REMEMBER: You will remain anonymous. We don’t need to know who you are.

All crime leads welcome anytime.

Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers

c/o Henrico County Police
PO Box 90775
Henrico, VA 23273-0775
804-501-5936 (NO anonymous tips)

About

The Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers is a 501 (c)(3) organization that relies on donations to continue providing its anonymous tip-reporting program. No county or city tax dollars are used to fund the program.

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