Animal Cruelty




Animal cruelty is illegal in Colorado:

  • Colorado’s animal cruelty statute incorporates elements of both neglect and abuse.
  • Victims of animal cruelty can be:
    • domestic companion animals
    • working animals
    • wildlife and other non-domesticated animals

Animals are sentient (WARNING! GRAPHIC IMAGES) creatures and animal victims of violence can experience anxiety, fear, pain and suffering similar to the experiences of human victims of violence.

  • The presence of animal cruelty may be indicative of other behaviors with significant public safety and/or human welfare risks.
  • Determining the underlying reasons and motivations for the acts of animal cruelty by a specific individual is critical in order to respond effectively to animal cruelty.
  • Individualized assessment of animal cruelty offenders is necessary to ensure appropriate and effective interventions and enhance both animal and human welfare.


neglect or abuse


















Acts of animal cruelty can be non-intentional or intentional resulting from:

  • acts of omission (often neglect based such as failure to provide food, water, shelter or necessary veterinary care)
  • acts of commission (committing acts of harm)

The continuum of animal maltreatment includes many forms and levels of harm:

  • emotional abuse (habitual shouting, withholding of provisions, purposefully inducing fear)
  • neglect (lack of provisions including food, water, shelter, or failure to provide necessary veterinary care)
  • physical violence (hitting, kicking, striking with objects)
  • animal fighting (most commonly associated with dogs and roosters)
  • sexual abuse (often with animals as a preferential victim or as “practice” for human victims)
  • torture (burning, bondage, prolonged and/or abject cruelty)

What can people do to reduce animal cruelty?

  • develop greater empathy toward animals (via humane education efforts)
  • expand public education and build awareness about animal cruelty and the Link
  • be vigilant for early signs of animal cruelty in children
  • comprehensively investigate animal maltreatment cases from a Link perspective
  • charge and prosecute animal cruelty offenses at the level commensurate with the level of cruelty committed
  • engage in active cross-reporting and information sharing on Link cases
  • ensure that animal cruelty offenders receive offense specific animal cruelty evaluations
  • ensure that sanctions and interventions with animal cruelty offenders are commensurate with public safety risk