Animal Abuse Reporting Requirements
In 2004, a new section on reporting animal abuse was added to the California Business and Professions Code as part of the Veterinary Medical Board’s sunset review process. Section 4830.7 reads:
Whenever any licensee under this chapter has reasonable cause to believe an animal under its care has been a victim of animal abuse or cruelty, as prescribed in Section 597 of the Penal Code, it shall be the duty of the licensee to promptly report it to the appropriate law enforcement authorities of the county, city, or city and county in which it occurred. No licensee shall incur any civil liability as a result of making any report pursuant to this section or as a result of making any report of a violation of subdivisions (a), (b), and (c) or Section 597 of the Penal Code.
The licensee specified is any veterinarian or RVT licensed in California. Animal abuse or cruelty is defined in Section 597 of the Penal Code. Section 597 is quite lengthy, so we will only reprint here subdivisions (a), (b), (c), and (d). You can read Section 597 in its entirety on the California Codes website.
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (c) of this section or Section 599c, every person who maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures, or wounds a living animal, or maliciously and intentionally kills an animal, is guilty of an offense punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, or, alternatively, by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (a) or (c), every person who overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, cruelly beats, mutilates, or cruelly kills any animal, or causes or procures any animal to be so overdriven, overloaded, driven when overloaded, overworked, tortured, tormented, deprived of necessary sustenance, drink, shelter, or to be cruelly beaten, mutilated, or cruelly killed; and whoever, having the charge or custody of any animal, either as owner or otherwise, subjects any animal to needless suffering, or inflicts unnecessary cruelty upon the animal, or in any manner abuses any animal, or fails to provide the animal with proper food, drink, or shelter or protection from the weather, or who drives, rides, or otherwise uses the animal when unfit for labor, is, for every such offense, guilty of a crime punishable as a misdemeanor or as a felony or alternatively punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony and by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000).
(c) Every person who maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates, or tortures any mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish as described in subdivision (d), is guilty of an offense punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, or, alternatively, by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.
(d) Subdivision (c) applies to any mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish which is a creature described as follows:
(1) Endangered species or threatened species as described in Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 2050) of Division 3 of the Fish and Game Code.
(2) Fully protected birds described in Section 3511 of the Fish and Wildlife Code.
(3) Fully protected mammals described in Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 4700) of Part 3 of Division 4 of the Fish and Game Code.
(4) Fully protected reptiles and amphibians described in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 5050) of Division 5 of the Fish and Game Code.
(5) Fully protected fish as described in Section 5515 of the Fish and Game Code.
This subdivision does not supersede or affect any provisions of law relating to taking of the described species, including, but not limited to, Section 12008 of the Fish and Game Code.
The passage of SB 1548 and the subsequent creation of Section 4830.7 added animal abuse to the list of reporting requirements for veterinary professionals. Veterinarians and RVTs must now report animal abuse along with bites, injuries from animal fights, child abuse, reportable diseases, and missing scheduled drugs.
© 2021 California Veterinary Medical Association