Is it Legal to Abandon an Animal?

Unfortunately, people abandon their pets every single day in the United States. While most of them are not injured nor are they disposed of violently, it should not make abandonment socially acceptable. Many times the excuses for abandonment include moving, allergies, or expense. Most of the time, the real excuse is that the owner does not have the time needed to dedicate to the animal. So, is abandoning an animal actually illegal?

Animal Cruelty and Neglect Laws

Most states across the country have laws against animal cruelty and neglect. Therefore it is illegal for someone to knowingly cause harm to an animal. That being said, not all states specifically mention that abandonment falls under animal cruelty and neglect. States that make it illegal to abandon an animal include California, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania and Nevada, among others.

Under Nevada law, cruelty to animals includes to overdrive, overload, torture, cruelly beat, or unjustifiably injure, maim, mutilate, or kill an animal. It does not matter whether the animal belongs to the aggressor or to another person or to no one at all. It is also against Nevada law to deprive, neglect, or refuse to furnish to an animal any necessary sustenance - including food or drink. It is also against Nevada law to abandon an animal or even cause or instigate abandonment.

In other words, it is illegal in Nevada to abandon an animal.

Under general common law, animals are treated as property. Therefore, if an owner brings an animal to a shelter, he or she is transferring title of the animal to the animal shelter. Notably, shelters are immune from civil liability for disposing of animals that are brought there by the animals’ owners. It is estimated that over 30% of the animals that are left in a shelter are euthanized, or put to sleep.

Penalties for Animal Abandonment

Nevada law also provides penalties for those who abandon animals. Specifically, under NRS 574.050, the first offense is a misdemeanor. Potential penalties include a monetary fine between $200 and $1,000, jail time of between two days and six months, and community service requirement of 48 to 120 hours. If someone has a second offense of animal abandonment within a seven-year time span, the offense is still a misdemeanor but the penalties are harsher. Specifically, potential penalties include a monetary fine between $500 and $1,000, jail time of between 10 days and six months, and community service requirement of 100 to 200 hours. A third offense of animal abandonment within a seven-year time span is a Class C felony. Not surprisingly, the potential penalties are even harsher. These include a monetary fine of up to $10,000 and/or jail time of between one and five years. There are exemptions to Nevada’s animal abandonment law, however. These include rodeos, livestock shows, as well as normal practices of hunting, ranching, dangerous animals, research, and veterinary care.

Legal Help in Nevada

If you have any questions about animal abandonment in Las Vegas, or any other area of Nevada, contact a skilled attorney. If you have been hurt due to the fault of another, contact Parry & Pfau. The skilled attorneys at the law firm of Parry & Pfau have handled personal injury lawsuits for clients across the state of Nevada and can help explain your rights.

(image courtesy of Mitchell Orr)