Concerned individuals may file reports with law enforcement officials alleging animal cruelty. Intentionally failing to provide a pet with adequate care, for example, may result in a class A misdemeanor charge under Missouri’s Animal Neglect and Abuse Statutes.
An individual who abandons an animal without arranging for its care may also face a misdemeanor charge. A second offense, however, may result in a felony charge prosecutable by the Missouri State District Attorney’s Office.
Certain types of animal abuse may result in severe state-level felonies
Harsher state-level felony charges may result in spending time incarcerated in state prison. Actionable felony offenses include training a dog to engage in activities related to fighting for gambling or entertainment. Individuals found harboring vicious dogs with the intention of causing harm to other humans or animals may also face state-level felony charges.
Officials may charge a Missouri resident for aiding and abetting another individual to train dogs in fighting. For example, using a property for an animal to receive training for a fight or an exhibition may violate the law. Training dogs for hunting or herding, however, may fall under an exemption.
Federal officials may file serious felony charges
On November 25, 2019, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act became a federal law signed by the president. As reported by the Humane Society of the United States, allegations of actions involving cruelty or abuse toward an animal may result in federal-level felony charges. Individuals may face severe penalties if found guilty of cruelty, such as intentionally maiming or burning an animal.
Both state and federal laws prohibit abuse, neglect and torture of animals. Each offense may require a strong legal defense to avoid a conviction or a severe punishment.