Cruelty and Legal Isssues

THE PET OWNERS ALLIANCE is authorized by Florida State Statutes to investigate cases of suspected animal cruelty and to take remedial action within existing laws. Our authority for taking direct action including legal removal of the animal, is limited to Dade County (Miami area) and Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale area). However, our years of experience in this field and our extensive knowledge of animal cruelty laws and court procedures, makes it possible for us to give advice to other rescue groups or concerned citizens throughout Florida. We are eager to help rescue a distressed animal no matter in what city or state it may be. To obtain advice or to report a situation to us, write –

Most of the “cruelty” cases reported to us are, in fact,cases of neglect. A large percentage of these can be corrected by supplying the owner with information on humane treatment . To those of us that own pets that are part of the family and that may even sleep on our beds, anything less than that would be mistreatment of the animal. The law doesn’t see it that way. Neglect in the eyes of an animal lover might be quite legal in the eyes of the law. Correcting this type of situation requires some creativity. If an appeal to the owner doesn’t work, will they sell the pet ? Will they let you take it for walks or “play time” ? We have resorted to bribery – free annual vaccinations if they will change the situation. If you know a Police Officer that is an animal lover, a visit by him or her to the owner with “suggested” changes, carries a lot of weight – even though it’s not official.

It was Barbara Woodhouse that said “dogs cannot choose their owners, they have to make do with what they get”. I wish there was a law that would prevent certain people from owning pets. There is not, so we stay on the lookout for animal abusers and try our best to save these animals from further pain and suffering. That is not an easy task. When a citizen reports a cruelty and an animal rescue group is able to legally take possession of the animal, the citizen feels that the job is over. Who is going to pay for potentially extensive Veterinary care?. Where is the animal going to be kept until the legalities are concluded and who pays for that?. The owner has a right to appear in court and try to convince the Judge that no cruelty occurred. That means the rescue group also has to be there with their own lawyer. The process could take months to conclude or in one case we had – just short of two years. If the police handle the case, the tax payer pays all costs. Unfortunately the cruelty victim will then be held at the local animal control facility as police evidence. In other words, the victim is the one put in jail. Regardless of how it’s done, the objective is to save some poor animal from the misery and abuse it is being subjected to. Click on the links at the top of the page for more information on Florida laws.