Tahlequah Attorney BlogWhat Constitutes Cruelty To Animals In Oklahoma?

cruelty to animals in OklahomaWhether we have pets, raise farm animals, or work in the animal care industry, we like to see our animals nurtured and treated well. Animals are valuable to us and often, vulnerable. Sometimes, animals get hurt. It can be as a result of an accident, neglect, or abuse. Cruelty to animals in Oklahoma is a crime. Therefore, knowing what it is and how it is handled in Tahlequah is important.

Cruelty To Animals Defined

Oklahoma law defines animals as mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and the like, both wild and domesticated. Cruelty to both wild and domestic animals is prohibited under Oklahoma law. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.1

Under Oklahoma law, animal cruelty is defined as the willful or malicious torturing, destruction, beating, maiming, mutilation, or killing of any animal. It is important to note that the statute applies to all animals, regardless of ownership. The animal could be wild or domesticated, your own animal, a neighbor’s pet, or a stray. All animals are protected under this statute.

What Cruelty To Animals Looks Like

Animal cruelty doesn’t always look like a physical injury. The law also encompasses things such as starving an animal, depriving an animal of needed water or shelter. Also, the law encompasses depriving an animal of veterinary care to prevent suffering.

Here are some examples of actions that could likely be deemed as cruelty to animals:

  • leaving an animal tied up outside in extreme weather;
  • injuring an animal and not taking it to the vet;
  • overloading a pack animal;
  • riding an animal so long and hard as to cause the animal to suffer; and
  • starving an animal.

Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1685

Any willful act that instigates or engages in animal suffering could be prosecuted. That means under the law, a person who instigates an act of animal cruelty can be prosecuted, even if that person never actually touched the animal.

If charged, your best advocate is an experienced Tahlequah attorney.


Oklahoma takes animal cruelty seriously and you should too. The crime is a felony in Tahlequah.

If convicted, you could spend up to five years in prison, pay a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

The more cruel the acts involved, the harsher the sentence. Courts have a great deal of discretion in sentencing in these cases.

Poisoning Animals Is Also a Felony

Also, poisoning an animal or exposing an animal to poisonous substances with the intent to poison them is against the law in Oklahoma. You could spend up to three years in prison, pay a fine of up to $250, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1681

Abandoning Animals

Also, it is against the law to abandon an animal near the side of a road. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1691

If convicted, you could spend up to a year in jail, pay a fine between $100 and $500, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1692

Vets Are Mandated Reporters

Veterinarians are mandated reporters under the law. Veterinarians must report cases of suspected abuse to law enforcement within 24 hours of examining the animal. And police have the ability to remove any abused animal they find. Any medical care needed, including euthanasia, will be paid for by the animal owner.

Law enforcement will dictate the terms and conditions of the return of the animal. If an owner is unwilling or unable to comply, often the animal is removed permanently. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1680.4

Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Lawyer

Please contact a Tahlequah criminal defense lawyer to discuss your available legal options if you are facing charges for cruelty to animals in Oklahoma.

For a free consultation, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll-free at 1-888-447-7262.

Or, if you prefer e-mail, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page and we’ll contact you by e-mail as soon as possible.

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