Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to subnav
Searching 2019-2020 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

 

Title 13: Crimes and Criminal Procedure

Chapter 008: HUMANE AND PROPER TREATMENT OF ANIMALS

  • Subchapter 001: CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
  • § 351. Definitions

    As used in this chapter:

    (1) "Animal" means all living sentient creatures, not human beings.

    (2) "Secretary" means the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

    (3) "Horse" means the entire family of equidae.

    (4) "Humane officer" or "officer" means any law enforcement officer as defined in 23 V.S.A. § 4(11); auxiliary State Police officers; deputy game wardens; humane society officer, employee, or agent; animal control officer appointed by the legislative body of a municipality; local board of health officer or agent; or any officer authorized to serve criminal process.

    (5) "Humane society" or "society for prevention of cruelty to animals" means the Vermont Humane Federation, Inc., or its successor, or any incorporated humane society that, through its agents, has the lawful authority to interfere with acts of cruelty to animals.

    (6) "Local board of health" means the town or city health officer and the selectboard members or aldermen.

    (7) "Necessary medical attention" shall include medical treatment for illness, injury, disease, excessive parasitism, or malformed or overgrown hoof.

    (8) "Person" means any individual, firm, partnership, or corporation, or authorized agent or representative of a person, partnership, or corporation.

    (9) "Sanitation" means the maintenance of clean conditions for indoor and outdoor enclosures to minimize health hazards, including periodic cleanings to remove excretions or other waste materials, dirt, and trash.

    (10) "Torture" or "torment" means omission, neglect, or an act by an animal owner or other person, whereby physical pain, suffering, or death is caused or permitted to be caused to an animal.

    (11) "Livestock" means cattle, bison, horses, sheep, goats, swine, cervidae, ratites, and camelids.

    (12) "Poultry" means meat and egg producing chickens, exhibition (fancy) chickens, turkeys, domestic ducks, geese, pheasants, chicken partridge, and cotarnix quail.

    (13) "Livestock and poultry husbandry practices" means the raising, management and using of animals to provide humans with food, fiber, or transportation in a manner consistent with:

    (A) husbandry practices recommended for the species by agricultural colleges and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Extension Service;

    (B) husbandry practices modified for the species to conform to the Vermont environment and terrain; and

    (C) husbandry practices that minimize pain and suffering.

    (14) "Agricultural or sporting association" means an organization or association determined by the Secretary.

    (15) "Living space" means any cage, crate, or other structure used to confine an animal that serves as its principal, primary housing and that provides protection from the elements. Living space does not include a structure, such as a doghouse, in which an animal is not confined, or a cage, crate, or other structure in which the animal is temporarily confined.

    (16) "Adequate food" means food that is not spoiled or contaminated and is of sufficient quantity and quality to meet the normal daily requirements for the condition and size of the animal and the environment in which it is kept. An animal shall be fed or have food available at least once each day, unless a licensed veterinarian instructs otherwise, or withholding food is in accordance with accepted veterinary practices or livestock and poultry husbandry practices.

    (17) "Adequate water" means potable water that is either accessible to the animal at all times or is provided at suitable intervals for the species and in sufficient quantity for the health of the animal. In no event shall the interval when water is not provided exceed 24 hours. Snow or ice is not an adequate water source unless provided in accordance with livestock and poultry husbandry practices.

    (18) "Adequate shelter" means shelter that protects the animal from injury and environmental hazards.

    (19) "Enclosure" means any structure, fence, device, or other barrier used to restrict an animal or animals to a limited amount of space.

    (20) "Livestock guardian dog" means a purpose-bred dog that is:

    (A) specifically trained to live with livestock without causing them harm while repelling predators;

    (B) being used to live with and guard livestock; and

    (C) acclimated to local weather conditions.

    (21) "Sexual conduct" means:

    (A) any act between a person and animal that involves contact between the mouth, sex organ, or anus of a person and the mouth, sex organ, or anus of an animal; or

    (B) without a bona fide veterinary or animal husbandry purpose, the insertion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or of any instrument, apparatus, or other object into the vaginal or anal opening of an animal. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1997, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003; 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2009, No. 121 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2013, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 72; 2013, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2017, No. 58, § 1; 2017, No. 62, § 10.)

  • § 351a. Purpose of subchapter

    The purpose of this subchapter is to prevent cruelty to animals. 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. (Added 1997, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 5.)

  • § 351b. Scope of subchapter

    This subchapter shall not apply to:

    (1) activities regulated by the Department of Fish and Wildlife pursuant to 10 V.S.A. Part 4;

    (2) scientific research governed by accepted procedural standards subject to review by an institutional animal care and use committee;

    (3) livestock and poultry husbandry practices for raising, management, and use of animals;

    (4) veterinary medical or surgical procedures; and

    (5) the killing of an animal as provided by 20 V.S.A. §§ 3809 and 3545. (Added 1997, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.)

  • § 352. Cruelty to animals

    A person commits the crime of cruelty to animals if the person:

    (1) Intentionally kills or attempts to kill any animal belonging to another person without first obtaining legal authority or consent of the owner.

    (2) Overworks, overloads, tortures, torments, abandons, administers poison to, cruelly harms or mutilates an animal or exposes a poison with intent that it be taken by an animal.

    (3) Ties, tethers, or restrains an animal, either a pet or livestock, in a manner that is inhumane or is detrimental to its welfare. Livestock and poultry husbandry practices are exempted.

    (4) Deprives an animal that a person owns, possesses, or acts as an agent for of adequate food, water, shelter, rest, sanitation, or necessary medical attention or transports an animal in overcrowded vehicles.

    (5)(A) Owns, possesses, keeps, or trains an animal engaged in an exhibition of fighting; possesses, keeps, or trains any animal with intent that it be engaged in an exhibition of fighting; or permits any such act to be done on premises under his or her charge or control.

    (B) Owns, possesses, ships, transports, delivers, or keeps a device, equipment, or implement for the purpose of training or conditioning an animal for participation in animal fighting or enhancing an animal's fighting capability.

    (6) Acts as judge or spectator at events of animal fighting or bets or wagers on the outcome of such fight.

    (7) As poundkeeper, officer, or agent of a humane society or as an owner or employee of an establishment for treatment, board, or care of an animal, knowingly receives, sells, transfers, or otherwise conveys an animal in his or her care for the purpose of research or vivisection.

    (8) Intentionally torments or harasses an animal owned or engaged by a police department or public agency of the State or its political subdivisions or interferes with the lawful performance of a police animal.

    (9) Knowingly sells, offers for sale, barters, or displays living baby chicks, ducklings, or other fowl that have been dyed, colored, or otherwise treated so as to impart to them an artificial color or fails to provide poultry with proper brooder facilities.

    (10) Uses a live animal as bait or lure in a race, game, or contest or in training animals in a manner inconsistent with 10 V.S.A. Part 4 or the rules adopted thereunder.

    (11)(A) Engages in sexual conduct with an animal.

    (B) Possesses, sells, transfers, purchases, or otherwise obtains an animal with the intent that it be used for sexual conduct.

    (C) Organizes, promotes, conducts, aids, abets, or participates in as an observer an act involving any sexual conduct with an animal.

    (D) Causes, aids, or abets another person to engage in sexual conduct with an animal.

    (E) Permits sexual conduct with an animal to be conducted on premises under his or her charge or control.

    (F) Advertises, offers, or accepts the offer of an animal with the intent that it be subject to sexual conduct in this State. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1997, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2015, No. 53, § 1; 2017, No. 62, § 10; 2017, No. 112 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 1, 2018.)

  • § 352a. Aggravated cruelty to animals

    A person commits the crime of aggravated cruelty to animals if the person:

    (1) kills an animal by intentionally causing the animal undue pain or suffering;

    (2) intentionally, maliciously, and without just cause tortures, mutilates, or cruelly beats an animal; or

    (3) intentionally injures or kills an animal that is in the performance of official duties while under the supervision of a law enforcement officer. (Added 1997, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; amended 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2015, No. 118 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.)

  • § 352b. Rules; affirmative defense

    (a) An enforcement officer implementing the provisions of section 352 or 352a of this title shall be guided by rules established by the Secretary.

    (b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, an affirmative defense to prosecution under section 352 or 352a of this title may be raised when:

    (1) except for vivisection or research under subdivision 352(7) of this title, the defendant was a veterinarian whose conduct conformed to accepted veterinary practice for the area, or was a scientist whose conduct was a part of scientific research governed by accepted procedural standards subject to review by an institutional care and use committee;

    (2) the defendant's conduct was designed to control or eliminate rodents, ants, or other common pests on the defendant's own property;

    (3) the defendant was a person appropriately licensed to utilize pesticides under 6 V.S.A. chapter 87;

    (4) the defendant humanely euthanized any animal as a representative of a duly organized humane society, animal shelter, or town pound according to rules of this subchapter, or as a veterinarian destroying animals under 20 V.S.A. chapter 193 or 20 V.S.A. §§ 3511 and 3513; or

    (5) a State agency was implementing a rabies control program.

    (c) An affirmative defense to a charge of abandonment under section 352 of this title shall not be recognized where a person abandons an animal at or near an animal shelter or veterinary clinic, farm, or other place of shelter, without making reasonable arrangements for the care of the animal.

    (d) The authority to enforce this chapter shall not be construed in a manner inconsistent with the animal control or disease control eradication programs in Title 6, or 20 V.S.A. chapters 191, 193, 194, and 195 or the provisions of 10 V.S.A. Part 4, or the rules adopted thereunder. (Added 1997, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)

  • § 353. Degree of offense; sentencing upon conviction

    (a) Penalties.

    (1) Except as provided in subdivision (3), (4), or (5) of this subsection, cruelty to animals under section 352 of this title shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than one year or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. Second and subsequent convictions shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than two years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both.

    (2) Aggravated cruelty under section 352a of this title shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both. Second and subsequent offenses shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than ten years or a fine of not more than $7,500.00, or both.

    (3) An offense committed under subdivision 352(5) or (6) of this title shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both.

    (4)(A) Except as provided in subdivision (B) of this subdivision (4), a person found in violation of subdivision 352(3), (4), or (9) of this title pursuant to this subdivision shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $2,000.00, or both. Second and subsequent convictions shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than two years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both.

    (B) In lieu of a criminal citation or arrest, a law enforcement officer may issue a civil citation to a person who violates subdivision 352(3), (4), or (9) of this title if the person has not been previously adjudicated in violation of this chapter. A person adjudicated in violation of subdivision 352(3), (4), or (9) of this title pursuant to this subdivision shall be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $500.00. At any time prior to the person admitting the violation and paying the assessed penalty, the State's Attorney may withdraw the complaint filed with the Judicial Bureau and file an information charging a violation of subdivision 352(3), (4), or (9) of this title in the Criminal Division of the Superior Court.

    (C) Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to require that a civil citation be issued prior to a criminal charge of violating subdivision 352(3), (4), or (9) of this title.

    (5) A person who violates subdivision 352(1) of this title by intentionally killing or attempting to kill an animal belonging to another or subdivision 352(2) of this title by torturing, administering poison to, or cruelly harming or mutilating an animal shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.

    (b) In addition to any other sentence the court may impose, the court may require a defendant convicted of a violation under section 352 or 352a of this title to:

    (1) Forfeit any rights to the animal subjected to cruelty, and to any other animal, except livestock or poultry owned, possessed, or in the custody of the defendant.

    (2) Repay the reasonable costs incurred by any person, municipality or agency for providing care for the animal prior to judgment. If the court does not order a defendant to pay all the applicable costs incurred or orders only partial payment, it shall state on the record the reasons for that action.

    (3) Forfeit any future right to own, possess, or care for any animal for a period that the court deems appropriate.

    (4) Participate in available animal cruelty prevention programs or educational programs, or both, or obtain psychiatric or psychological counseling, within a reasonable distance from the defendant's residence. If a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent under section 352 or 352a of this title, the court may order the juvenile to undergo a psychiatric or psychological evaluation and to participate in treatment that the court determines to be appropriate after due consideration of the evaluation. The court may impose the costs of such programs or counseling upon the defendant when appropriate.

    (5) Permit periodic unannounced visits for a period up to one year by a humane officer to inspect the care and condition of any animal permitted by the court to remain in the care, custody, or possession of the defendant. Such period may be extended by the court upon motion made by the State.

    (c) Upon an order of forfeiture of an animal under this section or section 354 of this title, the court shall order custody of the animal remanded to a humane society or other individual deemed appropriate by the court, for further disposition in accordance with accepted practices for humane treatment of animals. A transfer of rights under this section constitutes a transfer of ownership and shall not constitute or authorize any limitation upon the right of the humane society, individual, or other entity, to whom rights are granted to dispose of the animal. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1997, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2007, No. 51, § 20; 2009, No. 154, § 238; 2013, No. 67, § 12; 2017, No. 62, § 10; 2017, No. 112 (Adj. Sess.), § 1a, eff. May 1, 2018.)

  • § 354. Enforcement; possession of abused animal; searches and seizures; forfeiture

    (a) The Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets shall be consulted prior to any enforcement action brought pursuant to this chapter that involves livestock and poultry. Law enforcement may consult with the Secretary in person or by electronic means, and the Secretary shall assist law enforcement in determining whether the practice or animal condition, or both, represent acceptable livestock or poultry husbandry practices.

    (b) Any humane officer as defined in section 351 of this title may enforce this chapter. As part of an enforcement action, a humane officer may seize an animal being cruelly treated in violation of this chapter.

    (1) Voluntary surrender. A humane officer may accept animals voluntarily surrendered by the owner anytime during the cruelty investigation. The humane officer shall have a surrendered animal examined and assessed within 72 hours by a veterinarian licensed to practice in the State of Vermont.

    (2) Search and seizure using a search warrant. A humane officer having probable cause to believe an animal is being subjected to cruel treatment in violation of this subchapter may apply for a search warrant pursuant to the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure to authorize the officer to enter the premises where the animal is kept and seize the animal. The application and affidavit for the search warrant shall be reviewed and authorized by an attorney for the State when sought by an officer other than an enforcement officer defined in 23 V.S.A. § 4(11). A veterinarian licensed to practice in Vermont must accompany the humane officer during the execution of the search warrant.

    (3) Seizure without a search warrant. If the humane officer witnesses a situation in which the humane officer determines that an animal's life is in jeopardy and immediate action is required to protect the animal's health or safety, the officer may seize the animal without a warrant. The humane officer shall immediately take an animal seized under this subdivision to a licensed veterinarian for medical attention to stabilize the animal's condition and to assess the health of the animal.

    (c) A humane officer shall provide suitable care at a reasonable cost for an animal seized under this section, and have a lien on the animal for all expenses incurred. A humane officer may arrange for the euthanasia of a severely injured, diseased, or suffering animal upon the recommendation of a licensed veterinarian. A humane officer may arrange for euthanasia of an animal seized under this section when the owner is unwilling or unable to provide necessary medical attention required while the animal is in custodial care or when the animal cannot be safely confined under standard housing conditions. An animal not destroyed by euthanasia shall be kept in custodial care and provided with necessary medical care until final disposition of the criminal charges except as provided in subsections (d) through (h) of this section. The custodial caregiver shall be responsible for maintaining the records applicable to all animals seized, including identification, residence, location, medical treatment, and disposition of the animals.

    (d) If an animal is seized under this section, the State may institute a civil proceeding for forfeiture of the animal in the territorial unit of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court where the offense is alleged to have occurred. The proceeding shall be instituted by a motion for forfeiture if a criminal charge has been filed or a petition for forfeiture if no criminal charge has been filed, which shall be filed with the court and served upon the animal's owner. The civil forfeiture proceeding is intended to run independently from any criminal prosecution and shall not be delayed pending disposition of any criminal proceeding.

    (e)(1) A preliminary hearing shall be held within 21 days of institution of the civil forfeiture proceeding. If the defendant requests a hearing on the merits, the court shall schedule a final hearing on the merits to be held within 21 days of the date of the preliminary hearing. Time limits under this subsection shall not be construed as jurisdictional.

    (2) If the defendant fails to respond to the notice for preliminary hearing, the court shall enter a default judgment ordering the immediate forfeiture of the animal in accordance with the provisions of subsection 353(c) of this title. A motion to reopen a default judgment shall be filed in writing with the court no later than 30 days after entry of a default judgment. A default judgment shall not be reopened unless good cause is shown.

    (f)(1) At the hearing on the motion for forfeiture, the State shall have the burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that the animal was subjected to cruelty, neglect, or abandonment in violation of section 352 or 352a of this title. The court shall make findings of fact and conclusions of law and shall issue a final order. If the State meets its burden of proof, the court shall order the immediate forfeiture of the animal in accordance with the provisions of subsection 353(c) of this title.

    (2) Affidavits of law enforcement officers, humane officers, animal control officers, veterinarians, or expert witnesses of either party shall be admissible evidence that may be rebutted by witnesses called by either party. The affidavits shall be delivered to the other party at least five business days prior to the hearing. Upon request of the other party or the court, the party offering an affidavit shall make the affiant available by telephone at the hearing. The court may allow any witness to testify by telephone in lieu of a personal appearance and shall adopt rules with respect to such testimony.

    (3) No testimony or other information presented by the defendant in connection with a forfeiture proceeding under this section or any information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or other information may be used for any purpose, including impeachment and cross-examination, against the defendant in any criminal case, except a prosecution for perjury or giving a false statement.

    (g)(1) If the defendant is convicted of criminal charges under this chapter or if an order of forfeiture is entered against an owner under this section, the defendant or owner shall be required to repay all reasonable costs incurred by the custodial caregiver for caring for the animal, including veterinary expenses. The Restitution Unit within the Center for Crime Victim Services is authorized to collect the funds owed by the defendant or owner on behalf of the custodial caregiver or a governmental agency that has contracted or paid for custodial care in the same manner as restitution is collected pursuant to section 7043 of this title. The restitution order shall include the information required under subdivision 7043(e)(2)(A) of this title. The court shall make findings with respect to the total amount of all costs incurred by the custodial caregiver.

    (2)(A) If the defendant is acquitted of criminal charges under this chapter and a civil forfeiture proceeding under this section is not pending, an animal that has been taken into custodial care shall be returned to the defendant unless the State institutes a civil forfeiture proceeding under this section within seven business days of the acquittal.

    (B) If the court rules in favor of the owner in a civil forfeiture proceeding under this section and criminal charges against the owner under this chapter are not pending, an animal that has been taken into custodial care shall be returned to the owner unless the State files criminal charges under this section within seven business days after the entry of final judgment.

    (C) If an animal is returned to a defendant or owner under this subdivision, the defendant or owner shall not be responsible for the costs of caring for the animal.

    (h) A forfeiture order issued under this section may be appealed as a matter of right to the Supreme Court. The order shall not be stayed pending appeal.

    (i) The provisions of this section are in addition to and not in lieu of the provisions of section 353 of this title.

    (j) It is unlawful for a person to interfere with a humane officer or the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets engaged in official duties under this chapter. A person who violates this subsection shall be prosecuted under section 3001 of this title. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1997, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003; 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2009, No. 154, § 238; 2013, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2015, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2017, No. 11, § 24.)

  • § 355. Interference with or cruelty to a guide dog

    (a) As used in this section:

    (1) "Custody" means the care, control, and maintenance of a dog.

    (2) "Guide dog" means a dog, whose status is reasonably identifiable, individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability for purposes of guiding an individual with impaired vision, alerting an individual with impaired hearing to the presence of people or sounds, assisting an individual during a seizure, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving items, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability, and assisting with navigation.

    (3) "Notice" means:

    (A) a verbal or otherwise communicated warning regarding the behavior of another person and a request that the person stop the behavior; and

    (B) a written confirmation submitted to the local law enforcement agency, either by the owner of the guide dog or another person on his or her behalf, which shall include a statement that the warning and request was given and the person's telephone number.

    (b) No person shall recklessly injure or cause the death of a guide dog, or recklessly permit a dog he or she owns or has custody of to injure or cause the death of a guide dog. A person who violates this subsection shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $3,000.00, or both.

    (c) No person who has received notice or has knowledge that his or her behavior, or the behavior of a dog he or she owns or has custody of, is interfering with the use of a guide dog shall recklessly continue to interfere with the use of a guide dog, or recklessly allow the dog he or she owns or has custody of to continue to interfere with the use of a guide dog, by obstructing, intimidating, or otherwise jeopardizing the safety of the guide dog user or his or her guide dog. A person who violates this subsection shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

    (d) No person shall recklessly interfere with the use of a guide dog, or recklessly permit a dog he or she owns or has custody of to interfere with a guide dog, by obstructing, intimidating, or otherwise jeopardizing the safety of the guide dog user or his or her guide dog. A person who violates this subsection commits a civil offense and shall be:

    (1) for a first offense, fined not more than $100.00;

    (2) for a second or subsequent offense, fined not more than $250.00.

    (e) A violation of subsection (d) of this section shall constitute notice as defined in subdivision (a)(3) of this section.

    (f) As provided in section 7043 of this title, restitution shall be considered by the court in any sentencing under this section if the victim has suffered any material loss. Material loss for purposes of this section means uninsured:

    (1) veterinary medical expenses;

    (2) costs of temporary replacement assistance services, whether provided by a person or guide dog;

    (3) replacement value of an equally trained guide dog without any differentiation for the age or experience of the dog;

    (4) loss of wages; and

    (5) costs and expenses incurred by the person as a result of the injury to the guide dog. (Added 2009, No. 121 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 356. Humane officer required training

    All humane officers as defined in subdivision 351(4) of this title shall complete a certification program on animal cruelty investigation training as developed and approved by the Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board. (Added 2015, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. July 1, 2017.)


  • Subchapter 003: GENERAL PROVISIONS
  • § 361. Interference with domestic animals

    (a) A person commits the crime of interference with domestic animals if the person confines or secretes a domestic animal owned by another, with the intention of concealing its identity or the identity of its owner. A person also commits the crime of interference with domestic animals if he or she conceals the fact that the animal is licensed by removing the collar, harness, or identification, or defaces a tattoo or brand tag from any licensed animal or other domestic animal owned by another.

    (b) Interference with domestic animals shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than one year or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

  • § 362. Exposing poison on the land

    A person who deposits any poison or substance poisonous to animals on his or her premises or on the premises or buildings of another, with the intent that it be taken by an animal, shall be in violation of subdivision 352(2) of this title. This section shall not apply to control of wild pests; protection of crops from insects, mice, and plant diseases; or the Department of Fish and Wildlife in control of destructive wild animals. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 2019, No. 77, § 7, eff. June 19, 2019.)

  • § 363. Shooting birds for amusement

    Except for the taking of game pursuant to Title 10, any person who keeps or uses any live bird for release to be shot for amusement or as a test of marksmanship or provides buildings, sheds, yards, rooms, fields, or other areas to be used for such shooting purposes, shall be in violation of subdivision 352(1) of this title. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 7.)

  • § 364. Animal fights

    (a) A person who participates in a fighting exhibition of animals shall be in violation of subdivisions 352(5) and (6) of this title.

    (b) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, in addition to seizure of fighting birds or animals involved in a fighting exhibition, a law enforcement officer or humane officer may seize:

    (1) any equipment associated with that activity;

    (2) any other personal property which is used to engage in a violation or further a violation of subdivisions 352(5) and (6) of this title; and

    (3) monies, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by a person to engage in or further a violation of subdivisions 352(5) and (6) of this title.

    (c) In addition to the imposition of a penalty under this chapter, conviction under this section shall result in forfeiture of all seized fighting animals, equipment, and other property subject to seizure under this section. The animals may be destroyed humanely or otherwise disposed of as directed by the court.

    (d) Property subject to forfeiture under this subsection may be seized upon process issued by the court having jurisdiction over the property. Seizure without process may be made:

    (1) incident to a lawful arrest;

    (2) pursuant to a search warrant; or

    (3) if there is probable cause to believe that the property was used or is intended to be used in violation of this section.

    (e) Forfeiture proceedings instituted pursuant to the provisions of this section for property other than animals are subject to the procedures and requirements for forfeiture as set forth in 18 V.S.A. chapter 84, subchapter 2. (Added 1989, No. 270, (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2015, No. 53, § 2.)

  • § 365. Shelter of animals

    (a) Adequate shelter. All livestock and animals that are to be predominantly maintained in an outdoor area shall be provided with adequate shelter to prevent direct exposure to the elements.

    (b) Shelter for livestock.

    (1) Adequate natural shelter, or a three-sided, roofed building with exposure out of the prevailing wind and of sufficient size to adequately accommodate all livestock maintained in an outdoor area shall be provided. The building opening size and height shall, at a minimum, extend one foot above the withers of the largest animal housed and shall be maintained at that level even with manure and litter build-up. Nothing in this section shall control dairy herd housing facilities, either loose housing, comfort stall, or stanchion ties, or other housing under control of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. This section shall not apply to any accepted housing or grazing practices for any livestock industry.

    (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection, livestock may be temporarily confined in a space sufficient for them to stand and turn about freely, provided that they are exercised in accordance with livestock and poultry husbandry practices, and are provided sufficient food, water, shelter, and proper ventilation.

    (c) Minimum size of living space; dogs and cats.

    (1) A dog shall be provided a minimum living space that is large enough to allow the dog, in a normal manner, to turn about freely, stand, sit, and lie down. A dog shall be presumed to have minimum living space if provided with floor space in the greater amount of the following:

    (A) If the dog is:

    (i) less than 33 pounds (15 kilograms), floor space of at least eight square feet;

    (ii) 33 or more pounds (15 or more kilograms) up to and including 66 pounds (30 kilograms), floor space of at least 12 square feet; and

    (iii) more than 66 pounds (30 kilograms), floor space of at least 24 square feet.

    (B) Floor space in square footage calculated according to the following formula: floor space in square feet = (length of dog in inches + 6) × (length of dog in inches + 6) ÷ 144. The length of the dog in inches shall be measured from the tip of the nose of the dog to the base of its tail.

    (2) The specifications required by subdivision (1) of this subsection shall be required for each dog, regardless of whether the dog is housed individually or with other animals.

    (3)(A) A cat over the age of two months shall be provided a minimum living space that is large enough to allow the cat, in a normal manner, to turn about freely, stand, sit, and lie down. A cat shall be presumed to have minimum living space if provided with floor space of at least eight square feet and a primary structure of at least 24 inches in height. Floor space shall be calculated to include any raised resting platforms provided.

    (B) The requirements of this subdivision (c)(3) shall apply to each cat regardless of whether the cat is housed individually or with other animals.

    (4)(A) Each female dog with nursing puppies shall be provided the living space required under subdivision (1) of this subsection (c) plus sufficient additional floor space to allow for a whelping box and the litter, based on the size or the age of the puppies. When the puppies discontinue nursing, the living space requirements of subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection shall apply for all dogs housed in the same living space.

    (B) Each female cat with nursing kittens shall be provided the living space required under subdivision (3) of this subsection (c) plus sufficient additional floor space to allow for a queening box and the litter, based on the size or the age of the kittens. When the kittens discontinue nursing, the living space requirements of subdivision (3) of this subsection shall apply for all cats housed in the same living space.

    (5)(A) Females in heat (estrus) shall not be housed in the same primary living space or enclosure with intact males, except for breeding purposes.

    (B) A dog or cat exhibiting a vicious or overly aggressive disposition shall be housed separately from other dogs or cats.

    (6) All dogs or cats shall have access to adequate water and adequate food.

    (d) Daily exercise; dogs or cats. A dog or cat confined in a living space shall be permitted outside the living space for an opportunity of at least one hour of daily exercise, unless otherwise modified or restricted by a licensed veterinarian. Separate space for exercise is not required if an animal's living space is at least three times larger than the minimum requirements set forth in subdivision (c)(1) of this section.

    (e) Shelter for dogs maintained outdoors in enclosures.

    (1) Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, a dog or dogs maintained outdoors in an enclosure shall be provided with one or more shelter structures. A shelter structure shall:

    (A) Provide each dog housed in the structure sufficient space to, in a normal manner, turn about freely, stand, sit, and lie down.

    (B) Be structurally sound and constructed of suitable, durable material.

    (C) Be enclosed with sides, a roof, and a ground or floor surface that enables the dog to stay clean and dry.

    (D) Have an entrance or portal large enough to allow each dog housed in the shelter unimpeded access to the structure, and the entrance or portal shall be constructed with a windbreak or rainbreak.

    (E) Provide adequate protection from cold and heat, including protection from the direct rays of the sun and the direct effect of wind, rain, or snow. Shivering due to cold is evidence of inadequate shelter for any dog.

    (2) A shelter structure is not required for a healthy livestock guardian dog that is maintained outdoors in an enclosure.

    (3) If multiple dogs are maintained outdoors in an enclosure at one time:

    (A) Each dog will be provided with an individual structure, or the structure or structures provided shall be cumulatively large enough to contain all of the dogs at one time.

    (B) A shelter structure shall be accessible to each dog in the enclosure.

    (4) The following categories of dogs shall not be maintained outdoors in an enclosure when the ambient temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit:

    (A) dogs that are not acclimated to the temperatures prevalent in the area or region where they are maintained;

    (B) dogs that cannot tolerate the prevalent temperatures of the area without stress or discomfort; and

    (C) sick or infirm dogs or dogs that cannot regulate their own body temperature.

    (5) Metal barrels, cars, refrigerators, freezers, and similar objects shall not be used as a shelter structure for a dog maintained in an outdoor enclosure.

    (6) In addition to the shelter structure, one or more separate outdoor areas of shade shall be provided, large enough to contain all the animals and protect them from the direct rays of the sun.

    (f) Tethering of dog.

    (1) Except as provided under subdivision (2) of this subsection, a dog predominantly maintained outdoors on a tether shall be on a tether that allows the dog to walk a distance in any one direction that is at least four times the length of the dog as measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail, and shall allow the dog access to the shelter.

    (2)(A) A dog regularly used in training or participation in competitive or recreational sled dog activities and housed outdoors in close proximity with other dogs may, if necessary for the safety of the dog, be maintained on a tether that allows the dog to walk a distance in any one direction that is at least two times the length of the dog, as measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail. The tether shall be attached to the anchor at a central point, allowing the dog access to a 360 degree area.

    (B) If a tethering method involves the use of a trolley and cable and allows the dog to move freely along the length of the cable, the tether shall be long enough to allow the dog to lie down within its shelter without discomfort.

    (3) A tether used for any dog shall be attached to both the dog and the anchor using swivels or similar devices that prevent the tether from becoming entangled or twisted. The tether shall be attached to a well-fitted collar or harness on the dog. The tether shall be of a size and weight that will not cause discomfort to a tethered dog. A choke collar shall not be used as part of a tethering method.

    (g), (h) [Repealed.]

    (i) Violations. Failure to comply with this section shall be a violation of subdivision 352(3) or (4) of this title.

    (j) [Repealed.]  (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1989, No. 256 (Adj. Sess.), § 10(a), eff. Jan. 1, 1991; 1997, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 2017, No. 58, § 2.)

  • § 366. Prohibited use of animals

    (a) No live animal shall be used as a fund-raising device or award in a contest, lottery, game, or promotion by any person or entity other than at an event recognized by an agricultural or sporting association. An alternative cash prize shall be offered. A person or entity shall not transfer or award an animal without reasonable assurance that the person receiving the animal will provide proper transportation and adequate care.

    (b) No live fowl, turtles, or rabbits under eight weeks of age in lots of less than six shall be offered for sale or sold, displayed, or given away.

    (c) No dog, puppy, cat, or kitten shall be offered for sale, sold, displayed, or given away on the side of any highway, as defined in 19 V.S.A. § 1, except by the owner or lessor of the abutting land. It shall be an affirmative defense under this subsection that a transaction involving a sale or giving away of a dog, puppy, cat, or kitten was previously arranged by the parties, and the sale or giving away on the side of the highway was only for the convenient transfer of the animal.

    (d) A person who violates this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than $250.00. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1997, No. 130 (Adj. Sess.), § 13; 2001, No. 98 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 8, 2002.)


  • Subchapter 005: EUTHANASIA
  • § 371. Euthanizing animals

    (a) Registered animal shelters may purchase, possess, and administer approved euthanasia solution to euthanize injured, sick, homeless, or unwanted pets and animals in accordance with the rules established by the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets under 20 V.S.A. § 3913.

    (b) No person shall euthanize animals for an animal shelter without first completing the certification training program under 20 V.S.A. § 3913, except a Vermont licensed veterinarian and a person in training under such program. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1993, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. March 23, 1994; 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)


  • Subchapter 007: TRANSPORTATION OF ANIMALS
  • § 381. Transportation by railroad; rest and feeding

    (a) A railroad company transporting animals shall not permit them to be confined in cars more than 28 consecutive hours, including the time they have been confined on connecting roads, without unloading them for rest, water, and feeding for at least five consecutive hours, unless prevented from so unloading by storm or other accidental causes. Animals unloaded shall be properly fed, watered, and sheltered during each rest by the owner, or fed, watered, and sheltered during each rest by the owner or person having custody of the animals. In case of default, the railroad company transporting the animal shall provide feed and watering at the owner's expense. In this case, the company shall have a lien upon the animals for food, care, and custody furnished.

    (b) Violation of the 28-hour rule of this section is a violation of subdivision 352(4) of this title. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 9.)

  • § 382. Transportation by truck; rest and feeding

    (a) No person shall confine or permit to be confined any animals being transported by truck under his or her orders or control for more than 18 consecutive hours without their removal from the truck for a rest period of not less than four hours. The animals shall be provided with feed and water during this period except when reasonable space, food, and water are provided in the vehicle. Reasonable space for animals and protection from the weather shall be provided in trucks employed commercially in the long distance transportation of animals.

    (b) A person who violates a provision of this section shall be in violation of subdivision 352(4) of this title. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 10.)

  • § 383. Shipping of animals

    (a) There shall be separation of livestock species, as defined in 6 V.S.A. § 761, when these animals are transported by either rail or truck.

    (b) Failure to provide such separation shall be a violation of subdivisions 352(3) and (4) of this title. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1995, No. 39, § 3, eff. April 17, 1995; 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 11.)

  • § 384. Preference of animals as freight

    Any private or common carrier operating within this State shall yield to vehicles containing cattle, sheep, swine, equine, or other animals to allow continuous passage in preference to other freight. All vehicles and common carriers loaded with animals at any station shall take precedence over all other freight. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

  • § 385. Transportation on the highway without title documents

    (a) No person, except the owner of cattle being transported or a person acting under written authority of the owner, shall transport cattle on any public highway unless the person has in his or her possession a bill of sale or a memorandum signed by the owner of the cattle and containing the owner's address, the number, breed, and ear tag number of the cattle, and the name of the place to which the cattle are to be transported. Any person transporting such cattle shall, on demand, exhibit a bill of sale or memorandum to any State investigator, sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable, police officer, or State Police officer.

    (b) Violation of this section shall be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 60 days or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

  • § 386. Confinement of animals in vehicles

    (a) A person shall not leave an animal unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger the health or safety of the animal.

    (b) Any humane officer or member of a fire and rescue service may use reasonable force to remove any such animal from a motor vehicle. The officer so removing an animal shall deliver the animal to a humane society, veterinarian, or town or municipal pound. If the owner of the animal cannot be found, the officer shall place a written notice in the vehicle, bearing the name of the officer and the department and address where the animal may be claimed. The owner shall be liable for reasonable expenses, and a lien may be placed on the animal for these expenses. The officer may not be held liable for criminal or civil liability for any damage resulting from actions taken under subsection (a) of this section.

    (c) Failure to comply with subsection (a) of this section is a violation of subdivision 352(3) of this title. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 12.)

  • § 387. Transportation of horses; vehicles

    (a) Every vehicle utilized for the transportation of more than seven horses on the highway shall meet the following requirements:

    (1) there shall be at least two doors for loading and unloading, which shall not be on the same side;

    (2) loading ramps shall be provided if the vertical distance from the floor of the truck to the ground is greater than 15 inches;

    (3) the interior compartment construction shall be of smooth material with no hazardous, sharp protrusions;

    (4) there shall be sufficient openings to ensure adequacy of ventilation;

    (5) partitions shall be placed in compartments having no stalls;

    (6) doorways shall be of sufficient height to allow safe loading and unloading; and

    (7) compartment height shall be sufficient to allow clearance of the poll and withers of each horse loaded.

    (b) Vehicles under this section shall have no more than one tier in compartments carrying horses.

    (c) The Secretary shall establish rules for compliance with the provisions of this subchapter.

    (d) Failure to comply with this section, or the rules established thereunder, is a violation of subdivision 352(3) of this title. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003; 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 13.)


  • Subchapter 009: USE OF DRUGS IN ANIMALS IN LIVESTOCK COMPETITIONS
  • § 391. Definitions

    In addition to those definitions set forth in section 351 of this title, the following words shall have the following definitions:

    (1) "Animal pulling contest" means a pulling contest in which weights are pulled by animals for competitive purposes.

    (2) "Secretary" means the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets or a designee.

    (3) "Competitive event" means pulling contests, trail rides, shows, and any other competition for premiums or prizes involving animals.

    (4) "Drug" means those substances identified under 18 V.S.A. § 4051(5).

    (5) "Owner" means any person, partnership, or corporation having title to animals in any competitive event.

    (6) "Superintendent" means any individual designated to control animals during any livestock competition. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)

  • § 392. Administration of drugs; violation; rules

    (a) No person shall administer internally or externally a drug that may affect or alter the normal performance of an animal entered in an animal pulling contest or competitive event. Any animal so treated shall be disqualified, and any award, premium, or trophy forfeited.

    (b) The Secretary shall establish rules to implement the provisions of this subchapter. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)

  • § 393. Statement of ownership

    A signed statement of ownership in the name of the handler, including a description of the animal, shall be submitted to the superintendent before the start of a competitive event or animal pulling contest. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

  • § 394. Testing

    (a) The Secretary may take specimens for drug testing of saliva, blood, or urine, or all three, from any animal entered in an animal pulling contest or a competitive event. If a drug is found in a chemical analysis of the saliva, urine, or blood, it shall be prima facie evidence that a drug has been administered. A proper chain of evidence shall be maintained.

    (b) The Secretary may assess and retain a fee for the taking of a drug test sufficient to recoup the expense of the test procedure.

    (c) Failure of an owner or handler to submit an animal for testing on request shall be treated under this chapter as if the presence of a drug were found in a test performed on the animal.

    (d) Failure to provide adequate information or assistance in animal restraint for the Secretary to obtain an official sample shall be a violation of this section, subject to the penalty provision of section 397 of this title. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1993, No. 124 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)

  • § 395. Hearing; finding; order

    Within 14 calendar days from the date test results are received by the Secretary, the Secretary shall notify the superintendent of the animal pulling contest or competitive event, and the animal's owner, of the results. If the presence of a drug is found in the test, the Secretary shall hold a hearing, at which the owner of the animal or a representative of the owner may appear and be heard. On the basis of all evidence presented, the Secretary shall issue a finding of whether the provisions of this subchapter have been violated. The Secretary shall make an appropriate order of whether the owner, the representative of the owner, or the animal shall be eligible to participate in future competitive events or animal pulling contests held in this State. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)

  • § 396. Appeal

    Any person aggrieved by a finding and order or penalty of the Secretary under this subchapter may appeal to the Superior Court in the county in which the animal pulling contest or competitive event was held. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003.)

  • § 397. Administrative penalty

    In addition to the forfeiture of any award, premium, or trophy otherwise due, and in addition to other penalties provided by law, a person violating this chapter may be assessed an administrative penalty in an amount not to exceed $1,000.00 by the Secretary. The Secretary shall utilize the provisions of 6 V.S.A. §§ 16 and 17 for purposes of assessing the penalty. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 42, § 2, eff. May 27, 2003; 2019, No. 77, § 8, eff. June 19, 2019.)

  • § 398. Loss of eligibility

    Any person fined or convicted of administering an unlawful drug to animals entered in a competitive event or animal pulling contest held in another state shall be ineligible to compete in any animal pulling contest or competitive event in this State for a period not to exceed two years from the date of such fine or court conviction. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

  • § 399. Abuse; disqualification

    (a) Any person found rein-whipping or otherwise whipping a horse in an animal pulling contest under this subchapter shall be automatically disqualified, and be ineligible to receive any award, premium, or trophy. The light use of reins applied to the hindquarters may be permitted on entry to the pit and while the team is making its draw. The use of reins for other than guiding the animals at any other time is prohibited.

    (b) Any person found face-whipping cattle in an animal pulling contest shall be automatically disqualified and ineligible to receive any award, premium, or trophy. If a goad stick is used in the contest, it must be made of wood, not taped, and not more than 3/4 inches in diameter.

    (c) Excessive violation of either subsection (a) or (b) of this section shall be deemed a violation of subdivision 352(2) of this title. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2003, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 14.)

  • § 400. Alcohol breath test; disqualification

    A superintendent may require that contestants or other participants at an animal pulling contest or competitive event pass a breathalyzer test for alcohol. The test shall be conducted by the State Police, sheriff, or local police before the contest or event occurs. Any person above a 0.10 percent concentration level shall be disqualified and barred from participation in any animal pulling contest or competitive event on the day of the test. (Added 1989, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)