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Animal Abuse Prosecution Project

APA recognizes animal cruelty and fighting not only as precursor crimes to family and interpersonal violent crime, but also violent crime that should be effectively prosecuted. To achieve this end, APA developed a statement of principles regarding the prosecution of animal cruelty crimes and continues to provide a national technical assistance network as well as produce a quarterly newsletter, the Lex Canis. APA has also partnered with various animal welfare and other law enforcement organizations to hold an annual Animal Abuse and Fighting Summit to continue to develop ideas to fight animal cruelty and fighting.

APA Animal Cruelty and Fighting Statement of Principles:

  • Animals are sentient beings with the undeniable capacity to suffer pain.
  • Every state’s criminal code recognizes animals’ capacity to suffer, with 49 states identifying certain acts of animal cruelty as felonies.
  • There is a direct link between the criminal acts of animal abuse and interpersonal violence including murder, child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse.
  • Under-enforcement of animal cruelty laws is directly correlated to a host of corrosive societal ills—such as animal fighting in gangs and the harming or killing of companion animals in domestic violence situations.
  • Animal cruelty, both active and passive, is a crime of violence, and as such requires a prosecutor’s full attention, with the accompanying allocation of resources to hold the offenders accountable and achieve just results.
  • Prosecutors, in exercising their professional discretion, should give animal cruelty cases priority and make certain they are handled in the same professional manner as other crimes of violence.

To learn more about APA’s animal abuse program please contact