NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL STATUTES
Article 47 Animal Cruelty
§ 14‑360. Cruelty to animals; construction of section.
(a) If any person shall intentionally overdrive, overload, wound, injure, torment, kill, or deprive of necessary sustenance, or cause or procure to be overdriven, overloaded, wounded, injured, tormented, killed, or deprived of necessary sustenance, any animal, every such offender shall for every such offense be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Trying to prove ‘intent’ is the sticky part here, it doesn’t say ‘If any person …overdrives, overloads, etc. and it is a defensible tactic to argue that one person cannot know another person’s intent . However, the ‘cause or procure to be…’ would be easier to prove, if both parties were indicted. Person A contracted the services of Person B to ‘overdrive, overload, wound, etc’. Neglect is much easier to prove than intent.
(b) If any person shall maliciously torture, mutilate, maim, cruelly beat, disfigure, poison, or kill, or cause or procure to be tortured, mutilated, maimed, cruelly beaten, disfigured, poisoned, or killed, any animal, every such offender shall for every such offense be guilty of a Class I felony. However, nothing in this section shall be construed to increase the penalty for cockfighting provided for in G.S. 14‑362.
Malicious intent means with ‘malice or bad motive’; and is generally construed to involve a third party. If a person owns a dog used for fighting, the ‘cause to be tortured… is the malicious intent, as the injuries to the other dog will cause loss to the owner of that other animal. This may also apply to what we refer to as Hatfield/McCoy situations. Two neighbors have a dispute, and neighbor A ‘torture(s), mutilate(s), …neighbor B’s dog in retaliation.
(c) As used in this section, the words "torture", "torment", and "cruelly" include or refer to any act, omission, or neglect causing or permitting unjustifiable pain, suffering, or death. As used in this section, the word "intentionally" refers to an act committed knowingly and without justifiable excuse, while the word "maliciously" means an act committed intentionally and with malice or bad motive. As used in this section, the term "animal" includes every living vertebrate in the classes Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves, and Mammalia except human beings. However, this section shall not apply to the following activities:
Most ‘Cruelty’ charges taken may fit better under the ‘omission or neglect’ as it doesn’t require meeting the ‘Intentional’ or ‘Malicious’ requirement under the elements of the Crime. This is where ‘education’ becomes a big player in the application of the law. IF the person is instructed that the load on the wagon is too much for the mule to pull, that the dog is too thin and food must be provided, and the person fails to effect a change then it becomes ‘intentional’. The term ‘sustenance’ is defined as ‘nourishment; food’. I contend that the correct term should be ‘Sustentation’ as defined in 1998 edition of the Oxford Dictionary as 1. the support of life. 2. maintenance. Such change to the Statute could be construed to include Veterinary care, shelter, or any thing that ‘sustains’ life; not just food; the lack of which caused ‘unjustifiable pain, suffering or death. The majority of ‘cruelty’ cases brought in North Carolina fall well within the ‘neglect’ aspects of responsible animal husbandry.
(1) The lawful taking of animals under the jurisdiction and regulation of the Wildlife Resources Commission, except that this section shall apply to those birds exempted by the Wildlife Resources Commission from its definition of "wild birds" pursuant to G.S. 113‑129(15a).

(2) Lawful activities conducted for purposes of biomedical research or training or for purposes of production of livestock, poultry, or aquatic species.

(2a) Lawful activities conducted for the primary purpose of providing food for human or animal consumption.

(3) Activities conducted for lawful veterinary purposes.

(4) The lawful destruction of any animal for the purposes of protecting the public, other animals, property, or the public health. (1881, c. 34, s. 1; c. 368, ss. 1, 15; Code, ss. 2482, 2490; 1891, c. 65; Rev., s. 3299; 1907, c. 42; C.S., s. 4483; 1969, c. 1224, s. 2; 1979, c. 641; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 967, s. 1; 1989, c. 670, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 239; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1998‑212, s. 17.16(c); 1999‑209, s. 8.)
A person would be guilty of this offence if:

1. it was with Intent or Malice or Bad Intent, omission or neglect or unjustifiable cause; or Caused or procured to:

2. overdrive, overload, wound, injure, torment, kill or deprive of necessary sustenance

3. torture, mutilate, maim, cruelly beat, disfigure, poison or kill

In order to present probable cause to a Magistrate the investigation should meet a minimum of at least two of the above. One, the action of the person or persons involved, and two, the result of their actions or inactions.

Most of our laws here in North Carolina are very plainly written, with not a lot of ‘Legalese’.

The other parts of this chapter relate to other management issues, such as ‘Abandonment’, ‘Restraining’ and other lesser inclusive statutes.
§ 14‑361. Instigating or promoting cruelty to animals.

If any person shall willfully set on foot, or instigate, or move to, carry on, or promote, or engage in, or do any act towards the furtherance of any act of cruelty to any animal, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (1881, c. 368, s. 6; Code, s. 2487; 1891, c. 65; Rev., s. 3300; C.S., s. 4484; 1953, c. 857, s. 1; 1969, c. 1224, s. 3; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 967, s. 1; 1989, c. 670, s. 2; 1993, c. 539, s. 240; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)

As you can see this law was originally put on the books in 1881, and last revised in 1994; again this relates to the intent of the perpetrator, as well as ‘engage’ in ANY act towards the FURTHERANCE of ANY act.

Towards the ‘FURTHERANCE’ means that the act must have already been started, and that this person is a party to it’s continuance.

Example: a group of boys begins to throw rocks at a dog that is chained up; another person comes along and joins in. This person did not start the episode of rock throwing, but he did ‘do any act’ towards the furtherance of any act of cruelty to any animal.
§ 14‑361.1. Abandonment of animals.

Any person being the owner or possessor, or having charge or custody of an animal, who willfully and without justifiable excuse abandons the animal is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. (1979, c. 687; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 967, s. 2; 1989, c. 670, s. 3; 1993, c. 539, s. 241; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)

The abandonment charge is again pretty straight forward in it’s meaning. The definition of ‘abandon’ is taken to mean ‘to leave without the intent of returning’.

On the surface it might be difficult to define ‘Justifiable Excuse’. But a person having been arrested and taken to jail certainly didn’t leave with the intent of not returning. Or take the scenario of a person stopping to pick up a stray dog by the side of the road; they get the dog in their car and after a few moments the dog becomes fractious or aggressive to the point that it is not safe nor prudent for the driver to continue to drive with the animal in the vehicle.

The majority of our abandonment charges stem from tenants vacating rental property, and these are the easiest to prove. Landlord and neighbors can attest to their maintaining the animal(s) at the property.

Persons who drive animals down country roads are much more difficult to even locate, much less prosecute. It is not enough to just get the make and model and license tag number of the vehicle seen leaving animals, it is virtually required that a positive identification of the driver ( and passengers ) be provided. The law does not prosecute the car. Proof of ownership does not need to be met; it is simply a PERSON performing the act of leaving without the intent of returning.
Kathryn Smith
Former Cruelty Investigator, Craven County Humane Society 1976-1992
Former Cruelty Investigator, Craven County 1986-2000


The opinions of the writer are not to be construed as legal advise. We recommend that you seek legal counsel or discuss your situation with your local Magistrate or District Attorney.

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