The Status of Animals in Criminal Animal Cruelty Cases: What Animal Protection Professionals Need to Know

The Status of Animals in Criminal Animal Cruelty Cases: What Animal Protection Professionals Need to Know
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2020-09-29
Unit 1Slide Deck: The Status of Animals in Criminal Animal Cruelty Cases
Unit 2Transcript - The Status of Animals in Criminal Animal Cruelty Cases
Unit 3Workbook - The Status of Animals in Criminal Animal Cruelty Cases
Unit 4Recording: The Status of Animals in Criminal Animal Cruelty Cases

Understanding the status of animal in criminal animal cruelty cases may be a little bit more complex for those who are not as versed in this topic. This webinar, however, aims to shed light on a topic that might be causing confusion for some, to ultimately understand where animals fit under the law and the rights they are afforded.

This session’s instructors are both Senior Staff Attorneys from the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), David Rosengard and Emily Lewis. David is with the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Criminal Justice Program working with the criminal justice system raising appellate-level arguments that enable courts to reach decisions that address the animals’ needs. Meanwhile, Emily works alongside law enforcement, prosecutors, and rescue groups in various facets of animal cruelty investigation and prosecution particularly search warrant drafting and evidence collection.

Specifics covered in this discussion are:

  • The key factors taken into account when figuring out where do animals fit under the law.
  • Animal cruelty law and the concepts and rules it laid out in terms of abuse and what it aims to protect.
  • Animals’ status as property and the limitations that regulate what may be done with animals according to law.
  • Animals as victims of crime and the advocacies and legislation that aim to advance animal’s interest as it relates to justice.
  • Animals as crime victims and the implications of this legal term on rights that animals get to have under law.
  • The four most common challenges surrounding criminal animal cruelty cases particularly pertaining to custodial care, cost of care, ban on possession, and timely resolution of cases.
  • A deep dive into the concept of animals as live evidence.
    • The distinct quality of animals live evidence that changes through time, thus must be processed immediately to preserve evidentiary value.
    • Ownership, custody, and care considerations.
    • The requirements for the facility to securely house evidence animals.
    • The value in training staff in matters of chain of custody, documentation, and confidentiality to secure evidence animals.
    • The level of documentation and detail required with evidence animals.
    • Best practices and protocols when handling unexpected death in care.
  • The concept of compassionate protective custody that must be provided to animals in terms of:
    • Minimum standards of care as well as emergency and preventative veterinary management, rehabilitative care, and enrichment activities .
    • Protective custody fosters to provide better living conditions.
    • Handling emergency situations or severe medical conditions that may require euthanasia.
    • Dealing with animals that give birth while in protective custody and their young.

Questions from the audience were about:

  • ALDF services and resources to help with veterinary training, grants for prosecutions, and drafting confidentiality agreements.
  • Housing farm animals in compliance with evidentiary considerations.
  • Organizations that provide similar services as the ALDF outside of the United States



Webinars in this Series with the ALDF include:


Handouts and Resources
  • To contact the speakers to get assistance with training, grants, or sample confidentiality agreements, please email



Audience Comments

  • “The overall outline of the topic was very well thought out, as were the presenters. Very good job.” — Jack
  • “Importance of enrichment and adoption of animals involved in a criminal case.” — Chris
  • “I just subscribed. I find the content here to be excellent and relevant to my job. Thank you.” — Diana
  • “Great webinar! The different scenarios offered great examples and advices to expand my understanding.” — Desiree
  • “I thought there was a lot of good information regarding the topic.” — Eric
  • “I received a better understanding of the principle of pre-conviction forfeiture.” — Jonathan
  • “It was very helpful to get confirmation AND new nuances as to why we and our humane officers do what we do–Thank you very much!” — Marilyn
  • “The varying perspectives and legal positions as to the status of animals under the law – this is especially interesting as I am from Canada and it was a bit of an eye-opener to see some of the information presented. In addition, I found some of the points about documentation and chain of evidence to be interesting considerations that may differ or may not have been considered by my organization. Thank you for your work on this.” — Sabrina
  • “This was a very complex topic that David and Emily handled superbly. They provided a very well organized and delivered presentation that was clear and manageable for immediate processing.” — Susan D.



View our Animal Welfare Webinar  Schedule and Recordings



This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.




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.





Additional Resources
3 years ago
After the Webinar: The Status of Animals in Criminal Animal Cruelty Cases. Q&A with the Presenters
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