FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

HOW DO I REPORT ANIMAL CRUELTY?
Call our cruelty tip-line at 1-800-540-SPCA (7722) or report online.

WHAT IS ANIMAL CRUELTY?
Animal cruelty encompasses a range of behaviors harmful to animals, from neglect to malicious killing. Most cruelty investigated by humane officers is unintentional neglect that can be resolved through education. Intentional cruelty, or abuse, is knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter, socialization, 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.

  • State of California penal codes relating to animal cruelty
    • 596 Poisoning animals
    • 597(a) The Malicious and intentional maiming, mutilating, torture, wounding or killing of an animal.
    • 597(b) Depriving animal of food, water, or shelter; causing unnecessary suffering.
    • 597(c) Intentional maiming or killing of an endangered species.
    • 597a Cruel or inhumane transportation of animal(s).
    • 597b Fighting animals and birds (excludes dogs).
    • 597c Training animals to fight, or being present at a fight.
    • 597d Authority for warrantless arrests at animal fighting exhibition.
    • 597i Possession of implements for fighting birds.
    • 597j Possession of gamecocks for fighting purposes.
    • 597l Operation of a pet shop(s) and sale of sick animals.
    • 597t Confinement of animals in such a manner that may become entangled or injured; or without access to food, water or shelter.
    • 597.1 Permitting animals to go without care: Veterinary care for animals.
    • 597.5 Fighting dogs.

VIEW ALL ANIMAL CRUELTY PENAL CODES

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE RESOURCES ABOUT ANIMAL CRUELTY AS A PREDICTOR OF FUTURE VIOLENCE?
spcaLA’s Humane Education Department offers a host of resources for teachers, parents, law enforcement, social workers and veterinarians about animal cruelty, its relationship to future violence toward humans, and how to instill empathy – or the ability to feel for the suffering of others – in our Humane Education Resources.

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. View a list of local animal control offices.

DO I NEED TO GO TO THE POLICE ACADEMY TO BECOME A HUMANE OFFICER?
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. View the spcaLA Humane Officer selection process.

WHAT ARE THE DUTIES OF AN spcaLA HUMANE OFFICER?
Duties of spcaLA Humane Officers include the following and more:

  • Respond to citizen complaints.
  • Patrol.
  • Execute search warrants.
  • Evidence collection.
  • Report writing.
  • Criminal case filing.
  • Courtroom testimony.
  • Local agency assistance.
  • Community outreach.
  • Disaster response.

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. Learn more about DART™.

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 deploy to the California/Mexico border for around-the-clock shifts to recover sick and under-aged puppies. Learn more about the Border Puppy Task Force.

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 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 or 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.