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Legal Statutes: New Hampshire

UPDATED August 17, 2016

New Hampshire Statutes

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Chapter 644. Breaches of the Peace and Related Offenses

back to top644:8. Cruelty to Animals

I. In this section, “cruelty” shall include, but not be limited to, acts or omissions injurious or detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of any animal, including the abandoning of any animal without proper provision for its care, sustenance, protection or shelter.

II. In this section, “animal” means a domestic animal, a household pet or a wild animal in captivity.

II-a. In this section, “shelter” or “necessary shelter” for dogs shall mean any natural or artificial area which provides protection from the direct sunlight and adequate air circulation when that sunlight is likely to cause heat exhaustion of a dog tied or caged outside. Shelter from the weather shall allow the dog to remain clean and dry. Shelter shall be structurally sound and have an area within to afford the dog the ability to stand up, turn around and lie down, and be of proportionate size as to allow the natural body heat of the dog to be retained.

III. A person is guilty of a misdemeanor for a first offense, and of a class B felony for a second or subsequent offense, who:

(a) Without lawful authority negligently deprives or causes to be deprived any animal in his possession or custody necessary care, sustenance or shelter;

(b) Negligently beats, cruelly whips, tortures, mutilates or in any other manner mistreats or causes to be mistreated any animal;

(c) Negligently overdrives, overworks, drives when overloaded, or otherwise abuses or misuses any animal intended for or used for labor;

(d) Negligently transports any animal in his possession or custody in a manner injurious to the health, safety or physical well-being of such animal;

(e) Negligently abandons any animal previously in his possession or custody by causing such animal to be left without supervision or adequate provision for its care, sustenance or shelter; or

(f) Otherwise negligently permits or causes any animal in his possession or custody to be subjected to cruelty, inhumane treatment or unnecessary suffering of any kind.

III-a. A person is guilty of a class B felony who purposely beats, cruelly whips, tortures, or mutilates any animal or causes any animal to be beaten, cruelly whipped, tortured, or mutilated.

IV. (a) In addition to being guilty of crimes as provided in paragraphs III and III-a, any person charged with cruelty to animals may have his or her animal confiscated by the arresting officer and, upon said person's conviction of cruelty to animals, the court may dispose of said animal in any manner it decides. Courts shall give cases in which animals have been confiscated by an arresting officer priority on the court calendar. The costs, if any, incurred in boarding and treating the animal, pending disposition of the case, and in disposing of the animal, upon a conviction of said person for cruelty to animals, shall be borne by the person so convicted. In addition, the court may prohibit any person convicted of animal cruelty from having future ownership or custody of other animals for any period of time the court deems reasonable or impose any other reasonable restrictions on the person's future ownership or custody of animals as necessary for the protection of the animals.

(b) If a person convicted of cruelty to animals appeals the conviction and any confiscated animal remains in the custody of the arresting officer or the officer's designee pending disposition of the appeal, in order for the appellant to maintain a future interest in the animal, the trial court may require the appellant to post a bond or other security in an amount not exceeding $2,000 for each animal in custody for costs expected to be incurred for the board and care of the animal during the appeal. If the conviction is affirmed on appeal, the costs incurred for the board and care of the animal shall be paid to the custodian from the posted security and the balance, if any, returned to the person who posted it.

IV-a. (a) Except as provided in subparagraphs (b) and (c) any appropriate law enforcement officer, animal control officer, or officer of a duly licensed humane society may take into temporary protective custody any animal when there is probable cause to believe that it has been or is being abused or neglected in violation of paragraphs III or III-a when there is a clear and imminent danger to the animal's health or life and there is not sufficient time to obtain a court order. Such officer shall leave a written notice indicating the type and number of animals taken into protective custody, the name of the officer, the time and date taken, the reason it was taken, the procedure to have the animal returned and any other relevant information. Such notice shall be left at the location where the animal was taken into custody. The officer shall provide for proper care and housing of any animal taken into protective custody under this paragraph. If, after 7 days, the animal has not been returned or claimed, the officer shall petition the municipal or district court seeking either permanent custody or a one-week extension of custody or shall file charges under this section. If a week's extension is granted by the court and after a period of 14 days the animal remains unclaimed, the title and custody of the animal shall rest with the officer on behalf of the officer's department or society. The department or society may dispose of the animal in any lawful and humane manner as if it were the rightful owner. If after 14 days the officer or the officer's department determines that charges should be filed under this section, the officer shall petition the court.

(b) For purposes of subparagraph (a) the investigating officer for livestock, as defined in RSA 427:38, III, shall be accompanied by a veterinarian licensed under RSA 332-B or the state veterinarian who shall set the probable cause criteria for taking the animal or animals.

(c)(1) For purposes of subparagraph (a), for facilities licensed to conduct live running or harness horseracing or live dog racing pursuant to RSA 284, the appropriate law enforcement officer, animal control officer, or officer of a duly licensed humane society shall:

(A) Notify the director of the pari-mutuel commission of the circumstances arising under subparagraph (a);

(B) Enter the grounds of the facility with the director of the pari-mutuel commission or such person designated by the director of the pari-mutuel commission;

(C) Take such horses or dogs into temporary protective custody as determined by the director of the pari-mutuel commission or such person designated by the director of the pari- mutuel commission; and

(D) Comply with subparagraph (a) after taking a horse or dog from a facility licensed pursuant to RSA 284 into temporary protective custody.

(2) This paragraph shall not preempt existing or enforcement authority of the pari-mutuel commission, pursuant to RSA 284 or rules and regulations adopted pursuant to such authority.

V. A veterinarian licensed to practice in the state shall be held harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decisions made for services rendered under the provisions of this section or RSA 435:11-16. Such a veterinarian is, therefore, under this paragraph, protected from a lawsuit for his part in an investigation of cruelty to animals.
Source. 1971, 518:1. 1975, 460:1. 1979, 23:1. 1981, 575:2. 1982, 8:4. 1983, 231:2. 1985, 72:3. 1989, 57:1. 1994, 234:1-3. 1998, 283:1. 1999, 152:1; 308:1. 2000, 4:1, eff. Feb. 4, 2000. 2008, 240:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2009; 288:1, 2, eff. July 1, 2008.