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What is Considered "Animal Cruelty"

Under Pennsylvania Law, cruelty to animals includes:

Neglect including failure to provide food, water, clean and sanitary shelter offering protection from weather, and necessary veterinary care.

    Abuse including intentionally, knowingly or recklessly mistreating, beating, torturing, or abandoning or abusing an animal.

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    Tethering an unattended dog in excess of nine hours in a 24-hour period. The tether must be the appropriate length (as outlined in PA Law), secured to a collar or harness by means of a mechanism designed to prevent entanglement. The dog must have access to food, water, and shade or shelter from the weather. Additionally, a dog may not be tethered for longer than 30 minutes in temperatures above 90 or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

      Transporting animals in a cruel manner.

      Animal mutilation and related offenses.

        Animal fighting including causing or allowing an animal to engage in animal fighting, receiving compensation for admission to or hosting an animal fight, owning, training, promoting, or knowingly selling an animal for animal fighting, attending and wagering on the outcome of an animal fight.

          Possession of animal fighting paraphernalia.

          Download an Overview of PA Cruelty Laws

          Red Flags of Animal Abuse & Neglect

          According to the ASPCA, the following are common red flags that could indicate animal abuse and/or neglect:


          • A person striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal.
          • Extreme thinness or emaciation—bones may be visible.
          • A tight collar that has caused a wound or has become embedded in the animal’s neck.
          • Signs of an illness or injury that is not being treated, including open wounds or broken bones.
          • Fur infested with fleas, ticks or other parasites.
          • Signs of inadequate grooming, such as extreme matting of fur or overgrown nails that interfere with the animal’s ability to walk or otherwise function normally.
          • Signs of dogfighting including:
            • Dogs with multiple scars, possibly with lips or ears ripped off
            • Pit bull-mix-type dogs weighing approximately 40-50 lb.
            • Dogs on heavy chains, tethered to a tire axle or dog house/barrel
            • Dirt ring around the dog
            • Dogs chained inches apart from one another
            • Dogs chained or penned in a secluded area intentionally kept out of the public’s view


          • Animals confined outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water.
          • Animals confined outside in inclement weather without access to adequate shelter.
          • Animals confined to a space that is littered with feces, urine, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could harm them.
          • Animals confined in kennels or cages that are too small to allow them to stand, turn around and make normal movements or have sufficient access to food, water or protection from the elements.