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Pet Protection Guidelines

Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Birmingham, AL

Pet Protection Guidelines

The Greater Birmingham Humane Society (GBHS) Animal Cruelty Investigation program appreciates the opportunity to work with your court towards effectively assessing animal cruelty, and neglect. Through this effort we will also assist in bringing to the surface domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, substance abuse and dog fighting as an illegal gambling activity within the same investigation.

Our mission is “dedicated to promoting respect for life through education and prevention of cruelty to animals and people”. As such, we are pleased to announce the passage of the “Pet Protection Law” (HB182) under Alabama State Law – Title §13A-11-240. This bill was signed into law May 2000.

Animal Cruelty as a Felony: pertinent laws

  • §13A-11-241 (a) A person commits the crime of cruelty to a dog or cat in the first degree if he or she intentionally tortures any dog or cat or skins domestic dog or cat or offers for sale or exchange or offers to buy or exchange the fur, hid or pelt of a domestic dog or cat. Cruelty to a dog or cat in the first degree is a Class C felony.
  • §3-1-29 (a) It shall be a class C felony for any person: (1) to own, possess, keep or train any dog with the intent that such dog shall be engaged in an exhibition of fighting with another dog; (2) For amusement or gain, to cause any dog to fight with another dog, or cause any dogs to injure each other; (3) To permit any act in violation of subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection.
    (b) It shall be a class C felony for any person to be knowingly present, as a spectator, at any place, building, or tenement where preparations are being made for an exhibition of the fighting of dogs, with the intent to be present at such preparations, or to be knowingly present at such exhibition or to knowingly aid or abet another in such exhibition.

Animal Cruelty as a Misdemeanor: pertinent laws

  • §13A-11-241 (b) Class A misdemeanor: A person commits the crime of cruelty to a dog or cat in the second degree if he or she, in a cruel manner, overloads, overdrives, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, unnecessarily or cruelly beats, injuries, mutilates, or causes the same to be done.

Definitions: §13A-11-240 (a)The word “torture” as used in this act shall mean the act of doing physical injury to a dog or cat by the infliction of inhumane treatment or gross physical abuse meant to cause said animal intensive or prolonged pain or serious physical injury, or thereby causing death due to said act.
(b) The word “cruel” as used in this act shall mean: every act, omission, or neglect, including abandonment, where unnecessary or unjustified pain or suffering is allowed to continue.

Rights of Removal

§13A-11-243 Any law enforcement officer and any agent of the county or the municipality appointed pursuant to Section 13A-11-242, having reasonable belief, evidence of, or having found a dog or cat to be neglected or cruelly treated may perform either of the following: (1) Remove the dog or cat from its present location. (2) Order the owner of the dog or cat to provide certain care to the dog or cat at the owner’s expense without the removal of the dog or cat from its present location


Class C Felony – penalties pursuant to state code
Class A misdemeanor – penalties pursuant to state code.

Time Line

§13A-11-244 …a hearing must be set within 20 days of seizure of the dog or cat or issuance of the order to provide care. The hearing shall be held not more than 10 days after the setting of the date to determine whether the owner, if known, is able to provide adequately and protectively for the dog or cat and is fit to have custody of the dog or cat. The hearing shall be concluded and the court order entered within 30 days after the date the hearing is commenced.

Petitioning the Courts

§13A-11-245 (b) If the owner is adjudged by the court, with certification from a licensed Veterinarian, to be able to provide adequately for and have custody of the dog or cat, the dog or cat shall be returned to the owner.
(c)(1) Upon the testimony of the person taking custody, a licensed veterinarian, or other qualified witness that the dog or cat requires destruction or other disposition for humane reasons or is of no commercial value, order the dog or cat destroyed or remanded directly to the custody of the dog or cat control, humane shelter, or similar facility designated by the county or the municipality or other appropriate person to be disposed of by the facility or person in a humane manner.
(d) If the court determines that the owner is unable, unwilling, or unfit to adequately provide for and protect any other dog or cat in the custody of that was not originally seized by the agency, agent, or other person when the dog or cat in custody was seized, the court may enjoin the owner of further possession or custody of the unseized dog or cat.
§3-1-29 (section b) Any dog used to fight other dogs in violation of subsection (a) of this section, shall be confiscated as contraband by the sheriff or other law enforcement officers and shall not be returned to the owner, trainer or possessor of said dog. The court shall award the animals to the humane society or other agency handling stray animals. At its discretion, the humane society or other agency handling stray animals shall humanely dispatch or dispose of any confiscated dog.

Court Costs

§ 13A-11-245(c)(1)Upon proof of the costs incurred by the agent or agency having custody of the dog or cat, order that the owner pay any costs incurred in destroying the dog or cat.

§ 3-1-29 Section E Expenses incurred in connection with the housing, care or upkeep of the dogs by any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity shall be taxed against the owner.

Due Process Considerations

There was much-heated debate over whether certain aspects of the Pet Protection Act violated the due process clause of the Constitution. Specifically, whether an animal can be taken from its owner and the owner become liable for costs associated with caring for or destroying the animal, was considered at length by the drafters of the bill. It was decided that the best solution to any constitutional problems regarding the confiscation of animals is to have the police accompany any cruelty call. Then the safeguards of probable cause protect both the officer and the animal representative.

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