TITLE THIRTEEN. CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART 1. CRIMES
CHAPTER 8. HUMANE AND PROPER TREATMENT OF ANIMALS
SUBCHAPTER 1. CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
§ 351. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Animal" means all living sentient creatures, not human beings.
(2) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of agriculture, food and markets.
(3) "Horse" means the entire family of equidae.
(4) "Humane officer" or "officer" means any law enforcement officer as defined in 23 V.S.A. s 4(11), auxiliary state police officers, deputy game wardens, humane society officer, employee or agent, local board of health officer or agent, or any officer authorized to serve criminal process.
(5) "Humane society" or "society for prevention of cruelty to animals" means the Vermont Humane Federation, Inc., or its successor, or any incorporated humane society which, through its agents has the lawful authority to interfere with acts of cruelty to animals.
(6) Local board of health" means the town or city health officer and the boards of selectmen or aldermen.
(7) "Necessary medical attention" shall include but not be limited to medical treatment for illness, injury, disease, excessive parasitism, or malformed or overgrown hoof.
(8) "Person" means any individual, firm, partnership or corporation, or authorized agent or representative of a person, partnership or corporation.
(9) "Sanitation" means the maintenance of clean conditions for indoor and outdoor enclosures to minimize health hazards, including periodic cleanings to remove excretions or other waste materials, dirt and trash.
(10) "Torture" or "torment" means omission, neglect, or an act by an animal owner or other person, whereby physical pain, suffering or death is caused or permitted to be caused to an animal.
§ 352. Cruelty to animals
(a) A person commits the crime of cruelty to animals if the person:
(1) intentionally kills any animal belonging to another person without first obtaining legal authority or consent of the owner, or attempts to kill or kills an animal with or without the owner's consent by a means causing undue suffering;
(2) overworks, overloads, tortures, torments, abandons, administers poison to, cruelly beats or mutilates an animal, exposes a poison with intent that it be taken by an animal;
(3) ties, tethers, or restrains an animal, either a pet or livestock, in a manner that is inhumane or is detrimental to its welfare. Accepted agricultural methods are exempted;
(4) deprives an animal which a person owns, possesses or acts as an agent for, of adequate food, water, shelter, rest or sanitation, or necessary medical attention, or transports an animal in overcrowded vehicles;
(5) owns, possesses, keeps or trains an animal engaged in an exhibition of fighting, or possesses, keeps or trains any animal with intent that it be engaged in an exhibition of fighting, or permits any such act to be done on premises under his or her charge or control;
(6) acts as judge or spectator at events of animal fighting or bets or wagers on the outcome of such fight;
(7) as poundkeeper, officer, agent of a humane society or as an owner or employee of an establishment for treatment, board or care of an animal, knowingly receives, sells, transfers or otherwise conveys an animal in his or her care for the purpose of research or vivisection;
(8) intentionally torments or harasses an animal owned or engaged by a police department or public agency of the state or its political subdivisions, or interferes with the lawful performance of a police animal;
(9) knowingly sells, offers for sale, barters or displays living baby chicks, ducklings or other fowl which have been dyed, colored or otherwise treated so as to impart to them an artificial color, or fails to provide poultry with proper brooder facilities;
(10) fails to ensure that a crate or other container used to transport, hold or ship in commerce live poultry is maintained in sanitary condition and so constructed as to provide sufficient ventilation and warmth; or
(11) uses a live animal as bait or lure in a race, game or contest, or in training animals in a manner inconsistent with Part 4 of Title 10 or the rules adopted thereunder.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, an affirmative defense to prosecution may be raised under this section when:
(1) except for vivisection or research under subdivision (a)(7) of this section, the defendant was a veterinarian whose conduct conformed to accepted veterinary practice for the area, or was a scientist whose conduct was a part of scientific research governed by accepted procedural standards subject to review by an institutional care and use committee;
(2) the defendant's conduct was designed to control or eliminate rodents, ants or other common pests on the defendant's own property;
(3) the defendant was a person appropriately licensed to utilize pesticides under chapter 87 of Title 6;
(4) the defendant humanely euthanized any animal as a representative of a duly organized humane society, animal shelter or town pound according to rules of this subchapter, or as a veterinarian destroying animals under chapter 193 or sections 3511 and 3513 of Title 20; or
(5) a state agency was implementing a rabies control program.
(c) An affirmative defense to a charge of abandonment under this section shall not be recognized where a person abandons an animal at or near an animal shelter or veterinary clinic, or other place of shelter, without making reasonable arrangements for the care of the animal.
(d) The authority to enforce this chapter shall not be construed in a manner inconsistent with the animal control or disease control eradication programs in Title 6, or chapters 191, 193, 194 and 195 of Title 20 or the provisions of Part 4 of Title 10, or the rules adopted thereunder.
§ 353. Degree of offense; sentencing upon conviction; appeal
(1) Except as provided in subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection, cruelty to animals under section 352 of this title shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than one year, or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.
(2) An offense committed under subdivisions 352(a)(5) and (6) of this title shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both.
(3) A first offense committed under subdivisions 352(a)(9) and (10) of this title shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $250.00. A second offense shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 60 days, or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both.
(b) In addition to any other sentence the court may impose, the court may require a defendant convicted of a violation under section 352 of this title to forfeit any rights to the animal subjected to cruelty, to repay the reasonable costs incurred by any person or agency for providing care for the animal prior to judgment, and to enjoin further possession of other animals by the defendant.
(c) Upon an order of forfeiture of an animal, the court shall order custody of the animal remanded to a humane society or other individual deemed appropriate by the court, for further disposition in accordance with accepted practices for humane treatment of animals. A transfer of rights under this section constitutes a transfer of ownership.
(d) When appealing a forfeiture order, the defendant shall give sufficient security to satisfy the trial court that he or she will pay all expenses for the care and support of the animal pending final determination of the appeal.
§ 354. Enforcement; possession of abused animal
(a) Any humane officer as defined in section 351 of this title may enforce this chapter. As part of an enforcement action, a humane officer may seize an animal being cruelly treated in violation of this chapter. A humane officer having probable cause to believe an animal is being subjected to cruel treatment in violation of this chapter outside of the officer's presence and wishing to enter the premises where the animal is kept to seize the animal shall obtain a search warrant.
(b) A humane officer shall provide suitable care for an animal seized under this section, and have a lien on the animal for all expenses incurred. If suitable care is not possible, the humane officer shall provide for the humane euthanasia of the animal, and may recover costs incurred. An animal not destroyed by euthanasia shall be kept in custodial care until it is in suitable condition to be returned and the owner has arranged for its proper care and for payment for custodial expenses, or until other arrangements for disposition of the animal have been made by the court.
(c) It is unlawful for a person to interfere with a humane officer engaged in the officer's official duties under this chapter. A person who violates this subsection shall be prosecuted under section 3001 of Title 13.
§ 3513. Disposal of abandoned animals
Any person having in his care, custody or control any abandoned animal as defined in section 3511 of this title may deliver the animal to any humane society or society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or in the case of dogs, cats or other small animals to any pound maintained by or for any town within which the animal was abandoned, or he may sell the animal, the proceeds from the sale to be applied to the contractual liability incurred by the person placing the animal. If the person to whom the animal was abandoned is unable to sell the animal, it may be humanely euthanized by any veterinarian licensed to practice in Vermont.