Understanding Colorado’s Animal Cruelty Statutes

Colorado law makes animal cruelty a crime. A first conviction is usually a misdemeanor, but a person may be convicted of a class 6 felony – including jail time or home confinement – for a second or later offense. But what is “animal cruelty” under Colorado law?

Animal cruelty includes:

  • knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence:
    • overdrives, overloads, overworks, or torments an animal;
    • deprives an animal of necessary sustenance (food or water);
    • unnecessarily or cruelly beats an animal;
    • houses or allows an animal to be housed in a way that results in chronic or serious physical harm;
    • carries an animal or confines it in a vehicle in a cruel or reckless way;
    • engages in a sexual act with an animal; or
    • mistreats or neglects an animal, or allows or causes an animal to be mistreated or neglected.
  • having responsibility for someone else’s animal and failing to provide adequate food, water, or shelter for the animal;
  • abandoning an animal;
  • recklessly or with criminal negligence tortures, needlessly mutilates, or needlessly kills an animal.


“Aggravated animal cruelty” occurs when someone knowingly tortures, needlessly mutilates, or needlessly kills an animal.

The full text of Colorado’s animal cruelty laws can be found in the Colorado Revised Statutes, sections 18-5-201 through 209 and 35-80-101 through 109.

Animal cruelty is not always a felony, but a conviction can affect your life in many ways, including your future employability. If you or someone you love is facing animal cruelty charges, please don’t hesitate to call the experienced Colorado criminal defense attorneys at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. For a confidential consultation, call us today at (719) 475-2555.

Contact Information