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VACTF Manual: Chapter 6: Animal Care Practices


We are providing a set of care guidelines for the various types of animals generally involved in cruelty complaints. We have presented the minimum conditions that should be present to ensure that the animals are receiving basic care. In addition, we have added recommendations that ideally should be followed.

We also have described what to look for in terms of the appearance of the animals and the environmental conditions that are symptoms of neglect and cruelty. If these are present, call a veterinarian to examine the animal(s).

In some cases the neglect and cruelty will be obvious even to an untrained eye. In others it may be more subtle, but if you become familiar with the following animal care practices, you will be better prepared to recognize it.

It is important to note that animal care practices can vary from breed to breed, and even from animal to animal, depending on many different factors. These guidelines are intended to give you a basis with which to make an informed decision about the care and health of the animals in your investigation, but they are not mandates of state law. Any divergence from these recommended practices may not - in and of itself - constitute a violation of Title 13. For example, pet owners are not required by law to neuter their animals.

The term "adequate" is used in Title 13, Section 352 (4) in reference to supplying animals with "adequate food, water, shelter, rest or sanitation . . ." "Adequate" is not specifically defined anywhere in the statute, so its meaning remains up to interpretation.

In most cases, educating animal owners about proper care and nutrition for their animals is enough to rectify the situation, and these practices can be used for that purpose as well. Title 13 outlines its purpose under Section 351 (a), which is to "prevent cruelty to animals." It goes on to say that "in implementing this subchapter, enforcement officers are encouraged to educate the public on requirements of the subchapter and, when appropriate, to seek voluntary resolution of violations."

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