Ok. I have been putting off posting on animal cruelty and welfare because it is highly unlikely I won’t piss someone off. I was chicken. I admit it. I tried to find a way to make everyone happy. I just can’t find it. So now you will be stuck with too much information and of course I will start with a history lesson. My blog. My thoughts.
Regulating the treatment of animals is not a modern concept. It’s in the bible. That’s pretty old. Lot of primitive cultures had certain ways of telling their people what was allowed and what was not. For example, the bible says in what manner animals for food may be killed. I am talking Old Testament here. Part of Kosher is a clean, humane slaughter. First argument; but that was religion and not a law. Wrong, religious beliefs were the law back then. You violate a religious practice and you might get stoned to death. There was no separation of church and state in a really big way. Old Testament does not wait for you to go to hell. They punish you themselves.
However, even back in biblical times the treatment of animals was a hodgepodge of completely random and capricious rules. Some eastern cultures forbid the intentional killing of any living thing—even an insect. Not so in our Judeo-Christian belief system. Kill the steer cleanly with no suffering, stay away from the pigs, fish have no rules unless they have a shell and if its vermin you kill it as fast as you can by any means. That is not a logical system. And its purpose is unclear. I am going to stick to the Judeo-Christian belief system because that is what out modern moral and legal code is derived from. At least for now.
In between biblical times and modern times the role and treatment of animals has mostly been all over the place. Prohibitions on treating animals poorly may have been for economic reasons, moral reasons, or just plain pride in a job well done. At times animals had no protections from ill abuse, but were subject to criminal prosecutions for moral failings. In the Middle Ages and right past the renaissance animals could be and were tried for crimes. If a human was tried for bestiality the animal was right there next to him and tried too. Dogs, cats, rats and all other creatures, even bugs, had court appointed lawyers to make sure they were guilty before they were executed for their crimes. For a long period of time an animal was entitled to much better legal representation than a human. I am just recounting theses facts. I am not even going to begin to try and explain it. Let’s just say morality was so important back then that even a rat had to act according to human social norms. And The Rule of Law was new and sort of cool so maybe they just got carried away.
The basis of our American modern anti-cruelty statutes is about 150 years old. It was considered bad for the morals of women and children to have to see animals beaten to death in the streets of the cities, so the first modern laws were drafted. The laws were not to protect animals, but to protect humans from having to witness such gruesome scenes. The constitutional basis for state police action was to protect the moral good—an allowed use of state powers. Over the years it was to protect moral good and human health and safety. But the key is that it was all about us and not about them. Then, due to changes in the political system, our nation laws started getting written that protected animals from cruelty for the animal’s sake.
Groups of concerned citizens could lobby for laws to be changed. People now had pets and saw some animals in a different light. Women got the vote and they became actively involved in “safe, feminine” causes like animal welfare acts. So on that day when the first anti-cruelty statute was written and put into a code section just for animals like the SC one below, animals had rights.
Commence freaking out now. I mean, we all know that Animal Rights is a future thing that we either support or fear, but most of us are completely blind to the fact AR are not new and are already in place. Isn’t that what PETA and the HSUS want? Certainly I am not lumping supporters of animal welfare among those that support animal rights! Yes, I am. A “right” is something granted by force of law and if there are laws granting certain animals the right to have minimum basic needs met, they have a RIGHT to those needs. They have a right to welfare standards set out by law. They have people assigned that can ask a court to enforce that right. They have rights already, so let that sink in.
Now, which animals have rights and what rights they have is controlled by both state and federal law. There are a lot of laws out there. The easiest way to get a handle on understanding what we are dealing with is to break it up into 2 kinds of crimes—neglect and cruelty. Neglect can be just ignorance or less then ideal conditions while cruelty is usually, but not always, intentional and outrageous. They often carry more severe punishments for intentional cruelty and there is less disagreement in what constitutes cruelty then neglect. Less, but not none.
The laws themselves often create completely artificial divisions between animals. They are based on which animals we have emotional feelings for and which ones we do not care for. They also exclude lots of common farming practices because while we may be outraged at a starving puppy, we do not want that to interfere with out hamburger for dinner. And fur and 4 legs ranks higher in most cases then other life forms, unless they are vermin and then we apply a completely different standard. If they are wild and endangered yet another standard is applied.
There is absolutely no rhyme or reason behind these laws if the object is to protect animals from unnecessary suffering. They reflect a world view of a Disney animation team as much as they do any logical distinctions. So, in many ways they are just like a lot of other laws. Its illegal because we say so, now go eat your pudding. We make it up and then justify it later. As long as most of us agree, it’s all fine and dandy. Because fish can’t feel pain anyway, right? No, not really. I eat raw oysters. That means I eat them ALIVE and they die when they hit my stomach acid. I am pretty sure if I quaffed down a few live kittens I would not be invited to your next dinner party.
So besides the fact that everything we think we know is probably wrong, it may also be unconstitutional to give animals rights without amending the constitution in some way. I know that is pretty far out there, but people go to jail for violating the rights of a non-human animal. But only some animals and some activities are illegal with absolutely no real standard to apply and no real state interest to allow police action. Animals are not supposed to have rights. If they do then don’t all animals have them? It sort of seems like the definition of arbitrary and capricious to me and in many cases the application of these laws is as arbitrary as I can possibly imagine. For example, say you have a pet pig and someone claims you are neglecting it. Just walk outside, shoot it with arrows until its good and dead and eat it. Problem solved. No pig no rights no case. And bacon is yummy. Huh? Or your horses are fine but the rats on our farm and in poor shape. Didn’t the statute say ALL non human animals? But what do they really mean? Is it vague? Like too vague? Like maybe void for vagueness vague?
Here is the SC code. Read it. Really read it. Who is it designed to protect? Who is it designed to punish? Can you see the difference between neglect and cruelty? Can you actually apply this law or see a way to comply with it?
Title 47 - Animals, Livestock and Poultry
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
SECTION 47-1-10. Definitions.
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Animal" means a living vertebrate creature except a homo sapien.
(2) "Sustenance" means adequate food provided at suitable intervals of quantities of wholesome foodstuff suitable for the species and age, sufficient to maintain a reasonable level of nutrition to allow for proper growth and weight and adequate water provided with constant access to a supply of clean, fresh, and potable water provided in a suitable manner for the species.
(3) "Shelter" means shelter that reasonably may be expected to protect the animal from physical suffering or impairment of health due to exposure to the elements or adverse weather.
SECTION 47-1-20. Acts of agents imputed to corporations.
The knowledge and acts of agents and persons employed by corporations in regard to animals transported, owned or employed by or in the custody of such corporations shall be held to be the acts and knowledge of such corporations.
SECTION 47-1-30. Repealed by 1998 Act No. 367, Section 9, eff May 27, 1998.
SECTION 47-1-40. Ill-treatment of animals generally.
(A) Whoever knowingly or intentionally overloads, overdrives, overworks, ill-treats any animal, deprives any animal of necessary sustenance or shelter, inflicts unnecessary pain or suffering upon any animal, or by omission or commission knowingly or intentionally causes these things to be done, for every offense is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by imprisonment not exceeding sixty days or by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, or both, for a first offense; by imprisonment not exceeding ninety days or by a fine not exceeding eight hundred dollars, or both, for a second offense; or by imprisonment not exceeding two years or by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, or both, for a third or subsequent offense. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a first offense under this subsection shall be tried in magistrate's or municipal court.
(B) Whoever tortures, torments, needlessly mutilates, cruelly kills, or inflicts excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering upon any animal or by omission or commission causes the acts to be done for any of the offenses is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be punished by imprisonment of not less than one hundred eighty days and not to exceed five years and by a fine of five thousand dollars.
(C) This section does not apply to fowl, accepted animal husbandry practices of farm operations and the training of animals, the practice of veterinary medicine, agricultural practices, forestry and silvacultural practices, wildlife management practices, or activity authorized by Title 50, including an activity authorized by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources or an exercise designed for training dogs for hunting, if repeated contact with a dog or dogs and another animal does not occur during this training exercise.
SECTION 47-1-50. Cruel work; carriage in vehicles; penalties.
(A) An owner, a possessor, or a person having the charge or custody of an animal may not:
(1) cruelly drive or work it when unfit for labor;
(2) carry it, or cause it to be carried, in or upon a vehicle or otherwise in an unnecessarily cruel or inhumane manner.
(B) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished for each offense in the manner prescribed in Section 47-1-40(A).
SECTION 47-1-60. Cutting muscles of tails of horses, asses, mules, mares, or geldings prohibited.
Any person who (a) cuts the tissue or muscle of the tail of any horse, ass, mule, mare or gelding, or otherwise operates upon it in any manner for the purpose or with the effect of altering the natural carriage of the tail, except when such cutting or operation is necessary for the health or life of the animal, as certified to in writing by a licensed veterinarian, (b) causes, procures or knowingly permits such cutting or operation to be done or (c) assists in or is voluntarily present at such cutting or operation shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Any person convicted of violating any of the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned not less than fifteen nor more than thirty days.
SECTION 47-1-70. Abandonment of animals; penalties; hunting dog exception.
(A) A person may not abandon an animal. As used in this section "abandonment" is defined as deserting, forsaking, or intending to give up absolutely an animal without securing another owner or without providing the necessities of life. "Necessities of life" includes:
(1) adequate water which means a constant access to a supply of clean, fresh, and potable water provided in a suitable manner for the species;
(2) adequate food which means provision at suitable intervals of quantities of wholesome foodstuff suitable for the species and age, sufficient to maintain a reasonable level of nutrition to allow for proper growth and weight;
(3) adequate shelter which means shelter that reasonably may be expected to protect the animal from physical suffering or impairment of health due to exposure to the elements or adverse weather.
(B) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than two hundred nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both. Offenses under this section must be tried in the magistrate's or municipal court.
(C) A hunting dog that is positively identifiable in accordance with Section 47-3-510 or Section 47-3-530 is exempt from this section.
SECTION 47-1-75. Immunity from civil and criminal liability.
Any person, including a person licensed to practice veterinary medicine, or an animal control officer or agent of the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or any society incorporated for that purpose, who in good faith and without compensation for services provided, acting without malice, recklessness, or gross negligence, renders emergency care or treatment to a domestic animal which is abandoned, ill, injured, or in distress related to an accident or disaster shall not be liable or subject to any civil or criminal liability for any injuries or harm to such animal resulting from the rendering of such care or treatment, or any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for such animal.
SECTION 47-1-80. Destruction of abandoned infirm animal.
Any agent or officer of the Department of Health and Environmental Control or police officer or officer of the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or of any society duly incorporated for that purpose may lawfully destroy, or cause to be destroyed, any animal found abandoned and not properly cared for, appearing to be glandered, injured or diseased past recovery for any useful purpose.
SECTION 47-1-90. Overloading and length of confinement of animals in railroad cars.
No railroad company in the carrying or transportation of animals shall overload the cars nor permit the animals to be confined in cars for a longer period than thirty-six consecutive hours without unloading them for rest, water and feeding for a period of at least five consecutive hours, unless prevented from so unloading by storm or other accidental causes beyond the control of such railroad company; provided, however, that when animals shall be carried in cars in which they can and do have proper food, water and space and opportunity for rest, the foregoing provisions in regard to their being unloaded shall not apply.
In estimating such confinement the time during which the animals have been confined without such rest on connecting roads from which they are received shall be included, it being the intent of this section to prohibit their continuous confinement beyond the period of thirty-six hours, except upon the contingencies hereinbefore stated.
SECTION 47-1-100. Care of animals unloaded during transit.
Animals unloaded as required by Section 47-1-90 shall be properly fed, watered and sheltered during such rest by the owner or person having the custody thereof or, in case of his default in so doing, then by the railroad company transporting such animals at the expense of the owner or person in custody thereof; and the company shall, in such case, have a lien upon such animals for food, care and custody furnished and shall not be liable for any detention of such animals.
SECTION 47-1-110. Violations of Sections 47-1-90 and 47-1-100.
Any company or the owner or custodian of such animals who shall fail to comply with the provisions of Sections 47-1-90 and 47-1-100 shall, for each and every such offense, if found guilty, be fined not less than fifty nor more than five hundred dollars, in any court of competent jurisdiction.
SECTION 47-1-120. Custody of animals in charge of arrested persons.
When a person arrested is, at the time of the arrest, in charge of an animal, an agent of the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or of any society incorporated for that purpose, may take charge of the animal and deposit the animal in a safe place of custody or deliver the animal into the possession of the police or sheriff of the county or place where the arrest was made, who shall assume the custody of the animal; and all necessary expenses incurred in taking charge of the animal shall be a lien thereon.
SECTION 47-1-125. Coloring or dying animals prohibited; sale or distribution of certain young animals prohibited; penalty.
(1) It is unlawful for any person to dye or color artificially any animal or fowl, including but not limited to rabbits, baby chickens, and ducklings, or to bring any dyed or colored animal or fowl into this State.
(2) It is unlawful for any person to sell, offer for sale or give away as merchandising premiums, baby chickens, ducklings or other fowl under four weeks of age or rabbits under two months of age to be used as pets, toys or retail premiums.
(3) This section shall not be construed to apply to any animal or fowl, including but not limited to rabbits, baby chickens and ducklings to be used or raised for agricultural purposes by persons with proper facilities to care for them or for poultry or livestock exhibitions.
(4) Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days.
SECTION 47-1-130. Arrest for violation of laws prohibiting cruelty to animals.
Any person violating the laws in relation to cruelty to animals may be arrested and held, without warrant, in the same manner as in the case of persons found breaking the peace.
SECTION 47-1-140. Care of animals after arrest of person in charge.
The person making the arrest, with or without warrant, shall use reasonable diligence to give notice to the owner of the animals found in the charge or custody of the person arrested, if the person is not the owner, and shall care and provide properly for the animals. The person making such arrest shall have a lien on the animals for the expense of such care and provision. But if such person making the arrest be an agent of the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or other society incorporated for that purpose, the provisions of Section 47-1-120 shall apply in lieu of the provisions of this section. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an animal may be seized preceding an arrest and pursuant to Section 47-1-150.
SECTION 47-1-150. Issuance of search warrant; purpose of section; motions regarding custody of animal; notice; care, disposal of, or return of animal.
(A) When complaint is made on oath or affirmation to any magistrate authorized to issue warrants in criminal cases that the complainant believes and has reasonable cause to believe that the laws in relation to cruelty to animals have been or are being violated in any particular building or place, such magistrate, if satisfied that there is reasonable cause for such belief, shall issue a search warrant authorizing any sheriff, deputy sheriff, deputy state constable, constable or police officer to search such building or place; but no search shall be made after sunset, unless specially authorized by the magistrate upon satisfactory cause shown. If an animal is seized pursuant to this section and the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, or other society incorporated for that purpose is involved with the seizure, the animal may be held pending criminal disposition of the case at a facility maintained or contracted by that agency.
(B) The purpose of this section is to provide a means by which a neglected or mistreated animal can be:
(1) removed from its present custody, or
(2) made the subject of an order to provide care, issued to its owner by the magistrate or municipal judge, any law enforcement officer, or any agent of the county or of the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or any society incorporated for that purpose and given protection and an appropriate and humane disposition made.
(C) Any law enforcement officer or any agent of any county or of the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or any society incorporated for that purpose may move before a magistrate for an order to:
(1) lawfully take custody of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated by removing the animal from its present location if deemed by the court that removal is necessary to prevent further suffering or ill-treatment, or
(2) order the owner of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated to provide certain care to the animal at the owner's expense without removal of the animal from its present location, and shall forthwith petition the magistrate or municipal judge of the county or municipality wherein the animal is found for a hearing, to be set within twenty-four hours after the date of seizure of the animal or issuance of the order to provide care and held not more than two days after the setting of such date, to determine whether the owner, if known, is able to provide adequately for the animal and is fit to have custody of the animal. The hearing shall be concluded, and the court order entered the date the hearing is commenced. No fee shall be charged for the filing of the petition. Nothing herein is intended to require court action for the taking into custody and making proper disposition of stray or abandoned animals as lawfully performed by animal control agents.
(D) The officer or agent of any county or of the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or of any society incorporated for that purpose, taking charge of any animal pursuant to the provisions of this section shall have written notice served prior to the hearing set forth in subsection (C)(2), upon the owner of the animal, if he is known and is residing in the county where the animal was taken. The sheriff of the county shall not charge a fee for service of such notice. If the owner of the animal is known but is residing outside of the county wherein the animal was taken, notice of the hearing shall be by publication.
(E) If any seized animal held by court order at the owner's premises is removed without notification to the investigating agency, or if an animal becomes sick or dies, and the owner or custodian fails to immediately notify the investigating agency, the owner must be held in contempt of court and fined up to the penalties provided by law.
(F) The officer or agent of any county or of the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or of any society incorporated for that purpose, taking charge of an animal as provided for in this section shall provide for the animal until either:
(1) The owner is adjudged by the court to be able to provide adequately for, and have custody of, the animal, in which case the animal shall be returned to the owner upon payment for the care and provision of the animal while in the agent's or officer's custody; or
(2) The animal is turned over to the officer or agent as provided in Section 47-1-170 and a humane disposition of the animal is made.
(G) If the court determines that the owner is able to provide adequately for, and have custody of the animal, the order shall provide that the animal in possession of the officer or agent be claimed and removed by the owner within seven days after the date of the order.
SECTION 47-1-160. Disposition of fines.
All fines collected for violations of this chapter must be distributed as follows:
(1) If the trial court finds that there was a nonprofit animal humane organization in the municipality or county materially involved in or aiding in the prosecution of the violation, one-half of the fine must be distributed to the nonprofit animal humane organization and the remaining one-half must be distributed as is otherwise provided by law.
(2) If there is no finding of material involvement or aiding in the prosecution of the violation by a nonprofit animal humane organization, the fine must be distributed as is provided by law.
SECTION 47-1-170. Penalties for violations of chapter.
The owner or person having charge or custody of an animal cruelly used who is convicted of any violation of this chapter forfeits ownership, charge, or custody of the animal and at the discretion of the court, the person who is charged with or convicted of a violation of this chapter must be ordered to pay costs incurred to care for the animal and related expenses.
SECTION 47-1-200. Requirements for transfer of animals and importation or exportation of dog or cat; penalties for violations.
(A) During transportation, an animal must not be confined in one area for more than twenty-four consecutive hours without being adequately exercised, rested, fed, and watered. The time may be extended reasonably when an act of God causes a delay. The animal must be provided adequate space and ventilation.
(B) A dog or cat under eight weeks of age must not be imported or exported without being accompanied by its dam.
(C) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than two hundred nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days, or both.
SECTION 47-1-210. Live animals as prizes; exceptions; penalties.
(A) It is unlawful to give away a live animal including, but not limited to, a fish, bird, fowl, or reptile, as a prize for, or as an inducement to enter, any contest, game, or other competition, or as an inducement to enter a place of amusement, or for these species to be used as an incentive to enter into any business agreement if the offer made was for the purpose of attracting trade.
(B) Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit an auction or raffle of a live animal including, but not limited to, a fish, bird, fowl, or reptile. Further, the giving away or the testing of game or fowl for breeding purposes only is lawful and is not prohibited by this section as an incentive to enter into a business agreement if the person giving away or testing game or fowl is engaged in that trade.
(C) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished for each separate offense by a fine not to exceed three hundred dollars or imprisonment not to exceed thirty days, or both.
(D) This section does not apply when a live animal is given away as follows:
(1) by individuals or organizations operating in conjunction with a cooperative extension education program or agricultural vocational program sanctioned by the State Department of Education or local school districts;
(2) by individuals or organizations operating in conjunction with field trials approved by the Department of Natural Resources; or
(3) by kennels that advertise in national publications in regard to dogs that are registered with the United Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club.