In this section, we have included Title 13, which is Vermont's criminal statute relating to the humane and proper treatment of animals. In certain sections within Title 13, notations from the Vermont Animal Cruelty Task Force ("VACTF Notes") offer insights gained from practical experience in the field. We have also included a section of USDA law that may be relevant when Vermont laws are being violated, as well as new animal laws passed in both 2002 and 2003, shortly before this manual was published.
Note that in charging a person with violations of Title 13, the number of charges you bring depends on the number of animals involved or the number of individual acts of cruelty. Thus, if you have a violation and you find 10 animals in that situation, then you have 10 violations of that section, or if you determine that a dog has been beaten on five different occasions, you could have 5 violations of Section 352. However, the State's Attorney may elect to charge on fewer counts than you present.
Also included are relevant sections of Title 20, Vermont's civil statute relating to animals and public safety issues. There are no notations from the Vermont Animal Cruelty Task Force within the text of Title 20 provided, however if you have any questions about possible violations of the statute, contact the appropriate enforcement agency, such as The Department of Agriculture or your local legislative body.
The Animal Welfare Regulations promulgated by the Department of Agriculture under Title 20, Chapter 194, Section 3908 are also included. It should be noted that these regulations apply to pet merchants only, and should not be confused with criminal statute referenced in Title 13.
A sample Animal Cruelty Ordinance for addressing minor animal cruelty infractions civilly can be found on page 198 at the end of this chapter. This model was created by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns on behalf of the Vermont Animal Cruelty Task Force. It is our hope that towns will adopt similar ordinances, which will give them yet another enforcement tool to deal with animal cruelty violations.
You should also become familiar with any local ordinances relating to animals and animal control in your own municipality. In some cases, your local ordinance may be more restrictive (but never less restrictive) than state law, and hold animal owners to a higher standard.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As we said at the beginning of this manual, in any case where the reader has a question regarding the intent of the laws and/or legal proceeding discussed in this section or any other section of this manual, or their legal rights and duties in the situations described in this section or any other section of this manual, they should consult an attorney for advice BEFORE proceeding.
Remember that laws may change each year. Thus, to stay current with the animal cruelty laws and animal control laws, check with your local and state legislative bodies. The Vermont Statutes are updated on the Vermont Legislative website at www.leg.state.vt.us. You may also download updated copies of this manual at www.vactf.org.
Title 13: Crimes and Criminal Procedure
Chapter 8: Humane and Proper Treatment Of Animals
Title 20: Internal Security and Public Safety
Chapter 191: Control Generally
Chapter 193: Domestic Pet or Wolf-Hybrid Control
Chapter 194: Animal Welfare Regulations - Pet Merchants Only
New Animal Laws Passed