The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crimes Report historically placed animal-abuse in a catchall “all other offense” category, along with an array of lesser crimes.  The FBI recently announced that animal abuse will be upgraded to a Group A felony and reported in a classification of its own, similar to crimes against society like arson, assault, and homicide.  (Click here to see a  listing by the Animal Defense Fund showing when felony animal cruelty provisions were enacted in each of the 50 states.)

The FBI’s elevation of animal abuse to a top-tier felony should help in seeing that convicted abusers of racehorses and other animals receive penalties that fit the crime.

During 2015, the FBI will modify its National Incident Based Reporting system so that it can acquire and store statistics about animal-abuse episodes and arrests submitted by law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.  Then, in January 2016, the FBI will actually start to collect data.

The FBI defines animal cruelty as “Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment.  Included are instances of duty to provide care, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured; transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or injure an animal. This definition does not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport (emphasis added); use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping.”

The FBI’s actions are intended to raise public awareness about animal cruelty and to assist prosecutors in gaining convictions.  To illustrate, part of the FBI’s definition of animal abuse—“transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death”—depicts the manner in which some former racehorses are reportedly conveyed to slaughter houses.

Copyright © 2014 Blood-Horse Publications.  Used with permission.

Postscript:  The personal conduct code announced this week by the National Football League specifically identifies animal abuse as a violation.  It is gratifying to see animal abuse beginning to receive the attention it needs by influential organizations like the FBI and NFL.