Animal Cruelty


The Definition of Animal Cruelty

Animal cruelty is the intentional infliction of injury, harm, or death on an animal, either by violence and/or by forced fighting, such as cock fighting or dog fighting. Depriving an animal of the necessary amount of food and water and/or protection from the elements (excessive sunlight, rain, snow, wind) is also classified as a subcategory of animal abuse called animal neglect.

Animal cruelty is categorized into two main groups: abuse and neglect. Abuse is more deliberate and easy to spot. Examples of abuse may include beating, shooting, or stabbing your animal. It is any deliberate action to hurt an animal. Neglect is harder to spot, but unfortunately it is much more common. Examples of neglect include not providing your pet with food, water, shelter, or veterinary care in some instances. Both forms of animal cruelty are against the law and should be reported immediately.

The following laws are excerpts of animal cruelty laws from the Illinois Department of Agriculture Humane Care for Animals Act.

(510 ILCS 70/3) (from Ch. 8, par. 703)

Sec. 3. Owner’s duties.

(a) Each owner shall provide for each of his or her animals:

(1) a sufficient quantity of good quality, wholesome food and water;

(2) adequate shelter and protection from the weather;

(3) veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering; and

(4) humane care and treatment.

(b) To lawfully tether a dog outdoors, an owner must ensure that the dog:

(1) does not suffer from a condition that is known, by that person, to be exacerbated by tethering;

(4) is tethered with a lead that measures, when rounded to the nearest whole foot, at least 10 feet in length;

(510 ILCS 70/3.01) (from Ch. 8, par. 703.01)

Sec. 3.01. Cruel treatment.

(a) No person or owner may beat, cruelly treat, torment, starve, overwork or otherwise abuse any animal.

(b) No owner may abandon any animal where it may become a public charge or may suffer injury, hunger or exposure.

(c) No owner of a dog or cat that is a companion animal may expose the dog or cat in a manner that places the dog or cat in a life-threatening situation for a prolonged period of time in extreme heat or cold conditions that:

(1) results in injury to or death of the animal; or

(2) results in hypothermia, hyperthermia, frostbite, or similar condition as diagnosed by a doctor of veterinary medicine.

(510 ILCS 70/3.02)

Sec. 3.02. Aggravated cruelty.

(a) No person may intentionally commit an act that causes a companion animal to suffer serious injury or death. Aggravated cruelty does not include euthanasia of a companion animal through recognized methods approved by the Department of Agriculture.

(510 ILCS 70/3.03)

Sec. 3.03. Animal torture.

(a) A person commits animal torture when that person without legal justification knowingly or intentionally tortures an animal. For purposes of this Section, and subject to subsection (b), “torture” means infliction of or subjection to extreme physical pain, motivated by an intent to increase or prolong the pain, suffering, or agony of the animal.

(c) No person shall sell or offer for sale, ship, transport, or otherwise move, or deliver or receive any animal which he or she knows or should know has been captured, bred, or trained, or will be used, to fight another animal or human or be intentionally killed, for the purpose of sport, wagering, or entertainment.


(510 ILCS 70/6) (from Ch. 8, par. 706)

Sec. 6. Poisoning prohibited. No person may knowingly poison or cause to be poisoned any dog or other domestic animal.

(510 ILCS 70/7.1) (from Ch. 8, par. 707.1)

Sec. 7.1. Confinement in motor vehicle. No owner or person shall confine any animal in a motor vehicle in such a manner that places it in a life or health threatening situation by exposure to a prolonged period of extreme heat or cold, without proper ventilation or other protection from such heat or cold.

(510 ILCS 70/7.5)

Sec. 7.5. Downed animals.

(a) For the purpose of this Section a downed animal is one incapable of walking without assistance.

(b) No downed animal shall be sent to a stockyard, auction, or other facility where its impaired mobility may result in suffering. An injured animal other than those of the equine genus may be sent directly to a slaughter facility.

Click here to view the complete list of Illinois laws concerning animal cruelty

What can you do if you suspect that an animal is being abused or neglected?

The Animal Control Center of St. Clair County is responsible for enforcing Illinois laws concerning dogs and cats, impounding animals found to be in violation of these laws, investigating bite incidents, and investigating complaints of inhumane treatment of companion pets. All cases of supposed animal cruelty in St. Clair County should be reported to them at 618-235-0585.

The Humane Society strives to improve the lives of homeless animals in our community through adoption, humane education, and community outreach. They are responsible for housing adoptable dogs and cats and providing humane education in order to promote animal welfare. However, there is not a humane investigator on staff, so all cases of animal cruelty should be reported to Animal Control.

It is helpful for everyone in the community to know how to identify animal abuse, who to call if they witness animal abuse, and if they feel safe in their situation, how to educate the abuser on how to either stop abusing the animal or find a better home for the animal. You may also refer neglectful pet owners to this website in order to get accurate information on how to care for their pet. If you or others are in need of supplies or professional help in order to take care of your pet, you can visit this link: BAHS Resource Page

Please call us at 618-235-3712 with any questions.  Thank you so much for caring about animals in our community.