Animal Cruelty Investigations
How do I report animal cruelty?
Call our cruelty tip-line at 1-800-540-SPCA (7722) or report online.
What constitutes animal cruelty?
Animal cruelty encompasses behavior harmful to animals ranging from neglect to malicious killing. Most cruelty investigated by Humane Officers can be resolved through education, if it is unintentional neglect. Intentional cruelty, or abuse, is knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter or veterinary care or maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating, or killing an animal. Both types of allegations can be felonies or misdemeanors. If you suspect cruelty, report it.
Do I need to go to the police academy to become a Humane Officer?
Yes and no.
- Yes: To become a Level 1 Humane Officer, you need to successfully complete basic training established by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST) for a Level 1 Reserve Officer or full basic academy. Humane Officers are appointed by the State and undergo substantial training in animal care, state humane laws and continue education throughout their careers.
- No: To become a Level 2 Humane Officer, you do not need to attend the academy, but you must meet other requirements, as indicated in the job description.
- View the spcaLA Humane Officer selection process
What is the difference between a Level 1 and Level 2 Humane Officer?
Both Level 1 and Level 2 Humane Officers are employed by spcaLA. Level 1 and Level 2 Humane Officers may exercise the powers of a peace officer to prevent animal cruelty, make arrests, and serve search warrants. Only a Level 1 Humane Officer may carry a firearm, and as such, training requirements for Level 1 Humane Officers are much more extensive than those for Level 2 Humane Officers. The duties of both can be reviewed in detail in California Corporations Code 14502.
What are the duties of an spcaLA Humane Officer?
Duties of spcaLA Humane Officers include the following and more:
- Respond to citizen complaints.
- Execute search warrants.
- Evidence collection.
- Report writing.
- Criminal case filing.
- Courtroom testimony.
- Local agency assistance.
- Community outreach.
- Disaster response.
Does spcaLA respond to barking dog, loud cat, or stray animal complaints?
No. spcaLA Humane Officers investigate and prosecute animal cruelty complaints. If you have a problem with a loud animal, call your local police agency. If you see a loose or vicious animal, call your local animal control.
What is the Disaster Animal Response Team (DART)™?
DART is spcaLA’s mobile command post and emergency response team for disaster situations—like fires, earthquakes and hurricanes—both local and national.
What is the Border Puppy Task Force?
spcaLA Humane Officers participate in the Border Puppy Task Force, which consists of several Southern California animal agencies. The goal of the task force is to reduce and eliminate the illegal smuggling and selling of under-aged animals. spcaLA Humane Officers routinely deploy to the California/Mexico border for weeks of around-the-clock shifts to recover sick and under-aged puppies.
What is the difference between a Humane Officer and an animal control officer?
Animal control officers enforce “State and City ordinances dealing with the care, treatment, licensing, and impounding of animals in an assigned area of the City.” Animal control officers may not be Humane Officers. spcaLA does not employ animal control officers. The duties of an animal control officer can be reviewed in detail in California Penal Code Section 830.9.