Prosecuting Farmed Animal Cruelty

Prosecuting Farmed Animal Cruelty
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-07-15
Unit 1Slide Deck: Prosecuting Farmed Animal Cruelty
Unit 2Transcript: Prosecuting Farmed Animal Cruelty
Unit 3Workbook: Prosecuting Farmed Animal Cruelty
Unit 4Recording: Prosecuting Farmed Animal Cruelty

When people think of farmed animals, what comes to mind are chickens, cows, and pigs. Its legal definition however provides specific conditions for an animal to be part of this category. This session talks about farmed animals and how they too can be subjected to animal cruelty.

David Rosengard is back on the Justice Clearinghouse to lead the discussion. David is a senior staff attorney in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) Criminal Justice Program where he leads efforts to have animals achieve the legal status of crime victims and pursues justice for these victims.

Specifics of the webinar include:

  • Debunking myths about farmed animals and a brief history of farmed animals and the legal framework built surrounding them.
  • The origins of animal cruelty laws and modern approach to cruelty law that integrates criminal law and animal law that advances the concept of the sentience of animals.
  • A rundown of the various animal cruelty law at the federal level and its scope and limits as it relates to farmed animals.
  • Comparing three states’ local cruelty laws related to farmed animals in terms of coverage, the definition of abuse and neglect, laws on puppy mills, and exemptions.
  • Dissecting what constitutes unlawful conduct based on the definition of general animal cruelty and farm-associated animal cruelty.
  • General enforcement tips focusing on the importance of intervention and prevention measures that highlight community outreach and education and upholding the due process when implementing changes on the law.
  • ALDF’s outreach and education efforts through their Farmed Animal Cruelty Prosecution Guide that provides guidelines on how to interpret and implement statutes.
  • Challenges that animal welfare and criminal justice entities may face when conducting investigations and seizures and how to overcome these through:
    • Forensics work, expert opinions, and traditional investigative work by getting sufficient witness statements.
    • Seize-in-place orders that resolve the issues surrounding logistics of seized animals.
    • Bond-or-forfeit statutes that address the cost of care of seized animals.
  • Issues during prosecution surrounding statutory standards, the defendant’s mental state, farms that are business entities, limited witnesses, and potential jury reaction and overcoming these by:
    • Employing expert witnesses to explain standards.
    • Utilizing circumstantial evidence to infer mental state.
    • Turning on non-animal models to prosecute business entities.
    • Leveraging whistleblowers and plea deals.
    • Contextualizing the facts of the case to the jury.
  • A look into pivotal case laws that established standards for care of farmed animals, what is considered humane and what is cruel, and other elements surrounding intervention in cruelty cases of farmed animals.

Topics touched upon during the Q&A are on:

  • Assistance and resources that ALDF can extend to smaller agencies in farmed animal cruelty cases.
  • Background on the 28-hour law.
  • The basis of different states’ definitions of protected animals in their respective laws.
  • Getting local lawmakers to consider stricter animal cruelty laws that follow existing model statutes and best practices.


Webinars in this Series with the ALDF include:


Or click here to view and register for other upcoming NACA  webinars on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Excellent information from an excellent instructor.” — Robert
  • “The criminal side of what I only know on a civil level!!! This was an excellent training!!” — Sarah
  • “I liked the graphic showing which states were high or low on the animal cruelty perspective. I like the specifics cases shared for more reading. ” — Jennie
  • “Outstanding presentation, David. I always enjoy and learn so much from your webinars. I appreciate the important work you do!” — Jen
  • “Great for new officers to understand that farm animals are protected too and even with state exemptions investigations/prosecutions can occur.” — Henry


This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.





** This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care and Control Association and may be eligible for Continuing Education Units. Please consult your local certification processes for additional details. Current NACA Members who attend will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo.
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