Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare Act is a federal law introduced in 1965 to prohibit the theft of pets and protect research animals. The law was expanded in the 1970s to prohibit animal fighting and extend protection to all animal carriers and intermediate handlers.

The current version of the Animal Welfare Act came to being in the 1980s and requires all animal dealers and exhibitors to be licensed and maintain minimum standards of care. An ownership history must be maintained for live dogs and cats and there are several other standards that animal dealers and research facilities must follow.

Animals Covered Under the Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare Act covers all warm-blooded animals that are used or intended to be used for testing, experiments, research or exhibition or as pets. The act specifically names six types of animals:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Nonhuman primates
  • Guinea pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Rabbits

Several types of animals are exempt from the Animal Welfare Act, including:

  • Birds
  • Most rats and mice bred for research
  • Farm animals
  • Horses not used for research

Defending Against Federal Animal Abuse Charges

Prosecutions under the Animal Welfare Act can be brought against a wide variety of Utah residents, including employees of animal shelters, animal breeders, veterinarians and researchers. If you have been accused of a violation of the Animal Welfare Act or any other federal law, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense law firm.

A federal conviction can result in significant fines and jail time. Federal crimes can also carry significant forfeiture penalties, which means that police may confiscate much of your property.

The attorneys at Greg Smith and Associates handle Animal Welfare Act cases throughout Utah, including Salt Lake City, St. George and Jordan. If you suspect that you are being investigated for a violation of the Animal Welfare Act, call us at 801-651-1512 or contact us online.

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