Animal Abuse in NY: Failure to Obtain Medical Treatment for Pet May Violate Agriculture and Market Law Section 353 (A.M.L. 、353)

Although not a commonly seen charge by criminal defense attorneys in New York City, the former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC know that violations of Agriculture and Market Law Section 353 (A.M.L. 、353) are far from atypical. A.M.L. 、353 provides, in relevant part:

“A person who overdrives, overloads, tortures or cruelly beats or unjustifiably injures, maims, mutilates or kills any animal, whether wild or tame, and whether belonging to himself or to another, or deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, food or drink, or neglects or refuses to furnish it such sustenance or drink, or causes, procures or permits any animal to be overdriven, overloaded, tortured, cruelly beaten, or unjustifiably injured, maimed, mutilated or killed, or to be deprived of necessary food or drink, or who willfully sets on foot, instigates, engages in, or in any way furthers any act of cruelty to any animal, or any act tending to produce such cruelty, is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”

As both a Manhattan prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney, I have handled, seen and heard of cases of horrific animal abuse. Very often, defendants claim that they were unaware of the abuse or neglect, they tried to render assistance and aid, but failed or the animal was not theirs. While sometimes the abuse is clear an obvious such as burning or breaking the limbs of animals, often the abuse is “merely” a failure to act.

Early in December 2008, A Kings (Brooklyn) County Criminal Court judge addressed AML 353 in the context of a failure to act. In People v. Charles Curcio, 2008KN021343, the accusatory instrument alleged that the defendant’s dog had a “prominent mass protruding from her rear end, which subsequently required surgery and six days of intensive care.” A physician stated that the dog suffered needlessly. Additionally, the defendant admitted that the dog was his and that he did not take the dog to receive treatment.

In denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Court found that the complaint and supporting deposition “allege that Defendant knew the dog had a mass on its rear end and that Defendant did not and would not take said dog to the veterinarian for medical attention.” Furthermore, according to the complaint, the defendant’s failure to obtain medical care could have resulted in the death of the dog. In order to save the dog’s life the surgery and six days of intensive care were necessary and this was accompanied by needless suffering. “[T]hough perhaps not complete enough to sustain a conviction, [it is] sufficient to establish a prima facie case. The Court went one step further and noted that “[f]actual issues of this nature render cases of failure to provide medical care to an animal under A.M.L. 、353 particularly unsuitable for determination on motion, and except in the most extreme cases, are best reserved for trial.”

As addressed above, while this particular crime is not one that is commonly seen, your criminal defense attorney needs to be prepared to analyze the facts of your case and the allegations against you no matter what they may be. Whatever your circumstance, the criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC are ready to expect the unexpected, work with you to develop a plan of attack, and implement that plan to get you where you need to be.

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