Nevada "Animal Cruelty" Laws
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers

Nevada prohibits animal cruelty, which comprises everything from abuse and torture to exploitation and neglect. Depending on the case, penalties range from small fines to years in Nevada State Prison.

Additionally, law enforcement may impound the abused animal and eventually put it down. And in some circumstances, non-U.S. citizens convicted of animal cruelty could get deported.

There are several ways to fight animal cruelty charges depending on the facts of the case. Perhaps the defendant was acting in lawful self-defense or lacked criminal intent. Or maybe the police conducted an unlawful search, and there is insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Whatever the situation, a Nevada criminal defense attorney may be able to get animal cruelty charges reduced or dismissed while keeping the defendant out of jail and in custody of his/her pet. Furthermore, most animal cruelty convictions can be sealed from a person's criminal record within two (2) years or less.

In this article our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss Nevada's fifteen different animal cruelty laws. Click below on a specific crime to learn its definition and penalties:

Also see our article about Nevada bestiality laws.

Img animalcruelty
The penalties for animal abuse in Nevada range from small fines to prison.

1. Overdriving, torturing, injuring or abandoning animals in Las Vegas, Nevada

Nevada law prohibits animal torture, neglect, and endangerment. Nevada law also regulates dog restraints and outdoor enclosures. Note that these laws do not apply with respect to an accidental injury or death of an animal that occurs in the normal course of operating a ranch or carrying out a rodeo or livestock show.

1.1. Animal abuse

It is illegal in Nevada to torture or unjustifiably maim, mutilate or kill any cat or any dog or any animal kept for companionship or pleasure, whether belonging to the person or to another. With regard to all animals including dogs, it is a crime in Nevada either to:

  • overdrive, overload, torture, cruelly beat or unjustifiably injure, maim, mutilate or kill an animal, whether belonging to the defendant or to another,
  • deprive an animal of necessary sustenance, food or drink, or neglect or refuse to furnish it such sustenance or drink,
  • cause, procure or allow an animal to be overdriven, overloaded, tortured, cruelly beaten, or unjustifiably injured, maimed, mutilated or killed or to be deprived of necessary food or drink,
  • instigate, engage in, or in any way further an act of cruelty to any animal, or any act tending to produce such cruelty, or
  • abandon an animal in circumstances other than those prohibited by NRS 574.110 (to read about this exception scroll down to section 7)

Note it is considered animal abuse if the defendant merely "allows" for the animal to endure torture. It is not necessary for the defendant to physically inflict the torture him/herself to be prosecuted in Nevada.1

1.2. Dog restraints and enclosures

With regard to dogs, it is a crime in Nevada to restrain a dog for more than fourteen (14) hours during a twenty-four (24) hour period. It is also illegal to restrain a dog by either:

  • using a prong, pinch or choke collar or similar restraint, or
  • using a tether, chain, tie, trolley or pulley system or other device that:
    1. is less than twelve (12) feet in length, or
    2. fails to allow the dog to move at least 12 feet or,
    3. allows the dog to reach a fence or other object that may cause the dog to become injured, entangled or to die by strangulation after jumping the fence or object

Nevada law further mandates that any pen or outdoor enclosure used to maintain a dog be appropriate for the dog's size and breed. If the property is too small to comply with the above restraint requirements, a dog may be maintained unrestrained in a pen or other outdoor enclosure. Note that these restraint and enclosure requirements do not apply to a dog that is either:

  • tethered, chained, tied, restrained or placed in a pen or enclosure by a veterinarian during the course of the veterinarian's practice,
  • being used lawfully to hunt a species of wildlife in Nevada during the hunting season for that species,
  • receiving training to hunt a species of wildlife in Nevada,
  • in attendance at and participating in an exhibition, show, contest or other event in which the skill, breeding or stamina of the dog is judged or examined,
  • being kept in a shelter or boarding facility or temporarily in a camping area,
  • temporarily being cared for as part of a rescue operation or in any other manner in conjunction with a bona fide nonprofit organization formed for animal welfare purposes,
  • living on land that is directly related to an active agricultural operation, if the restraint is reasonably necessary to ensure the safety of the dog ("agricultural operation" means any activity that is necessary for the commercial growing and harvesting of crops or the raising of livestock or poultry), or
  • with a person having custody or control of the dog, if the person is engaged in a temporary task or activity with the dog for not more than one (1) hour.

Also note that dog retailers, dealers and operators are required to follow additional laws regarding dog handling that may differ from the above.2

1.3. Penalties

Cuffs
Most Nevada animal cruelty cimes are misdemeanors.

The punishment for unjustifiably maiming, mutilating, or killing any cat or any dog or any animal kept for companionship or pleasure (whether belonging to the defendant or not) depends on the defendant's state of mind:

  • If the act is committed in order to threaten, intimidate or terrorize another person, it is a category C felony in Nevada carrying one to five (1 - 5) years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • If the act is committed willfully and maliciously, it is a category D felony carrying one to four (1 - 4) years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Otherwise, the punishment for a first time offense is a misdemeanor, and the penalties get harsher with each successive offense within a seven (7) year period. And depending on the circumstances the defendant may be ordered to surrender ownership or possession of the allegedly mistreated animal:

A first offense of animal cruelty within the preceding 7 years is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Nevada carrying:

  • two (2) days to six (6) months in Clark County Detention Center (or another county jail), and
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service, and
  • $200 to $1,000 in fines, and
  • restitution for all costs associated with the care and impoundment of any mistreated animal including money expended for veterinary treatment, feed and housing

Note that any jail time may be served intermittently at the discretion of the judge. However each period of confinement must be no less than four (4) consecutive hours and must occur either at a time when the defendant is not required to be at the place of employment or on a weekend.

A second offense of animal cruelty within a seven (7) year period is also a misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence is increased to:

  • Ten (10) days to six (6) months in Clark County Detention Center (or another county jail), and
  • 100 hours to 200 hours of community service, and
  • $500 to $1,000 in fines, and
  • restitution for all expenses for the care and impoundment of the mistreated animal such veterinary services, food and shelter

Finally, a third or subsequent offense of animal cruelty within a seven (7) year span is prosecuted as a category C felony in Nevada. The punishment includes:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $10,000 in fines, and
  • restitution for the expense for treating, feeding and housing the mistreated animal

When determining the punishment, the judge takes into account several factors including the condition of the animal. Predictably the sentence will probably be more severe if the animal died or sustained an injury.3

Dog 20racing
Dog racing is not illegal in Nevada unless it is abusive.

1.4. Related crimes: Bestiality & Dog Racing as a Gaming Activity

Nevada does not have a law specifically prohibiting bestiality. However Nevada child pornography laws makes it a felony to depict children engaging in sexual acts with animals.

Dog racing is not considered animal cruelty in Nevada unless the circumstances are abusive. However it is a misdemeanor to gamble on dog racing or to run dog racing for gaming purposes. Learn more at our article on the Nevada crime of dog racing as a gaming activity.4

2. Poisoning animals in Las Vegas, Nevada

The punishment for poisoning an animal in Nevada turns on the type of animal. Note that it is immaterial whether the animal belongs to the defendant. Also note that this law does not prohibit killing noxious animals.

2.1. Horses, mules or domestic cattle

It is a category C felony in Nevada either to:

  • unjustifiably administer any poisonous or noxious drug or substance to a horse, mule or domestic cattle, or
  • unjustifiably expose any poisonous or noxious drug or substance with the intent that it be taken by a horse, mule or domestic cattle

The punishment may include:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $10,000 in fines, and
  • restitution

2.2. Animals other than horses, mules or domestic cattle

It is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada either to:

  • unjustifiably administer any poisonous or noxious drug or substance to the animal, or
  • unjustifiably expose any poisonous or noxious drug or substance with the intent that it be taken by the animal

Upon conviction the judge may order a sentence of:

  • up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines, and
  • restitution5

3. Animal fights in Las Vegas, Nevada (including dog-fighting and cock-fighting)

Nevada prohibits three separate behaviors related to animal-fighting:

  1. running an animal fight,
  2. keeping, training or selling a fight animal, and
  3. watching an animal fight.

Each of these offenses carry different penalties. Note that these laws do not prohibit dog- or bird-use for lawful hunting or the management of livestock:

3.1.  Running or assisting an animal fight

It is illegal to begin, cause, instigate, promote, carry on, assist, umpire, or in any way aid in furthering an animal fight.  Animal fighting is still unlawful even if no one placed bets on the fight. The punishment depends on if the animal was a dog or not:

3.1.1. Dog fighting penalties

Img dogfight1 optimized
Dog fighting is outlawed in Nevada.

The sentence for causing or assisting a dog fight become harsher with each successive conviction. A first offense is a category D felony in Nevada carrying:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

A second offense is a category C felony in Nevada carrying a sentence of:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $10,000 in fines

A third of subsequent offense is a category B felony in Nevada carrying a sentence of one to six (1 - 6) years in prison.

3.1.2. Animal fighting penalties not including dogs

The penalties for participating in a non-dog animal fight also increase with each successive conviction. Note that these penalties would apply to cock-fighting.

A first offense of animal fighting is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada carrying:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

A second offense of animal fighting is a category E felony in Nevada. The judge typically orders probation with a suspended sentence of:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

A third or subsequent offense is a category D felony in Nevada carrying:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

3.2.  Keeping, training, selling or buying fight animals

It is a crime in Nevada either to:

  • own, possess, keep, train, promote or purchase an animal with the intent to use it to fight another animal, or
  • sell an animal knowing that it is intended to be used to fight another animal

The penalty the judge imposes will depend on whether the defendant has any previous convictions for keeping, training, purchasing or selling a fight animal. A first offense is a gross misdemeanor carrying:

  • up to 364 days in prison, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

A second conviction is a category E felony in Nevada. Probation is the standard outcome, although the sentence could possibly include:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

A third or subsequent offense is sentenced as a category D felony carrying

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

3.3. Watching an animal fight

Dogfighting snarl optimized
Merely watching a dog fight is illegal in Nevada.

Nevada prohibits people from knowingly witnessing any fight between animals in an exhibition or for amusement or gain. Note that it does not matter whether any money is riding on the fight. Merely being a spectator to the fight is a criminal act in Nevada.

A first offense of knowingly watching an animal fight is a misdemeanor with a sentence of:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines

A second offense is a gross misdemeanor carrying:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

A third or successive conviction is a category E felony. The standard sentence includes probation with no incarceration, but the judge may order:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe $5,000 in fines

To learn more about Nevada dog-fighting laws, go to our informational article on Nevada dog-fighting laws.6

4. Using or profiting from a venue used for animal fights in Las Vegas, Nevada

Nevada law prohibits people from using, keeping, managing or receiving admission money for a venue used for animal fighting. It is also illegal to own or occupy a venue while willfully permitting it to be used for an animal fight. Note that the venue may be any kind of location indoors or outdoors such as a house, apartment, or pit.

A first offense of this crime is a gross misdemeanor carrying:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

A second offense is a category E felony. In most cases the judge orders probation, although the sentence may include:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe $5,000 in fines

A third or subsequent offense is a category D felony carrying:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines7

5. Mistreatment of police animals in Las Vegas, Nevada

Nevada law prohibits the willful and malicious mistreatment of police animals including:

  • taunting, tormenting, teasing, beating, striking or administering a desensitizing drug, chemical or substance to a police animal, or
  • interfering with a police animal or a handler in the performance of duties assigned to the police animal or handler, or
  • torturing, mutilating, injuring, poisoning, disabling or killing a police animal

Mistreating a police animal without totally disabling or killing it is a category D felony. The penalty includes:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines, and
  • up to $10,000 in additional fines if the mistreatment involved torturing, mutilating, injuring or poisoning
Police 20dog
Mistreating a police dog is illegal in Nevada.

Mistreating a police animal that results in total disabling or death is a category C felony carrying:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $10,000 in fines, and
  • maybe restitution to the agency that owns the animal including veterinary services and the cost of replacing the animal

Note that it is legal for a licensed euthanasia technician, a peace officer or a veterinarian to euthanize a police animal in an emergency. The only condition is that the police animal is critically wounded and would otherwise endure undue suffering and pain.8

6. Mistreatment of show dogs in Las Vegas, Nevada

Nevada has three separate animal cruelty laws regarding treatment of dogs and dog shows. The first law prohibits people from willfully, unjustifiably and maliciously tampering or interfering with a show dog. This offense carries category D felony penalties of:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines

The second law prohibits people from willfully and unjustifiably abusing or injuring a show dog. Prosecutors charge this offense as a category D felony carrying:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $5,000 in fines, and
  • maybe an additional fine of up to $10,000

The final law prohibits people from willfully and unjustifiably killing a show dog. This is a category C penalty with a sentence of:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $10,000 in fines

Note that these three laws only apply when the dog belongs to someone other than the defendant. (Dog shows are an exhibition, contest or other event that judges or examines the dogs' skill, breeding or stamina.)9

7. Abandoning a disabled animal in Las Vegas, Nevada

Nevada animal abuse laws make it a misdemeanor for an owner, possessor or custodian of a maimed, diseased, disabled or infirm animal either to:

  • abandon the animal, or
  • leave the animal to die in a public street, road or place, or
  • allow it to lie in a public street, road or place more than three (3) hours after receiving notice that the animal has been lying there disabled

The punishment for abandoning a disabled animal includes:

  • up to six (6) months in jail and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines.

The defendant may also be responsible for any expenses the police incur to take care of the animal and any property the police seizes (such as a car the animal was in). Law enforcement may also put down the animal after receiving the owner's written consent or the approval of two reputable citizens the cop calls upon to view the animal's condition.10

8. Not providing proper air, food, shelter or water to an impounded animal in Las Vegas, Nevada

Dog
It is a crime in Nevada to neglect impounded animals.

It is illegal in Nevada to impound or confine an animal and then to refuse or neglect to supply it with sufficient good and wholesome air, food, shelter and water. Penalties for breaking this animal cruelty law get more extreme with each conviction. The defendant may also have to pay restitution for animal care.

A first offense within a seven (7) year time-span is a misdemeanor carrying:

  • two (2) days to six (6) months in jail, and
  • 48 hours to 120 hours of community service, and
  • $200 to $1,000 in fines.

The judge may permit the defendant to serve any incarceration sentence intermittently so that he/she may remain employed.  Meanwhile a second offense within a seven (7) year time-span is a misdemeanor as well. This sentence carries:

  • Ten (10) days to six (6) months in jail, and
  • 100 hours to 200 hours of community service, and
  • $500 to $1,000 in fines.

Finally a third or subsequent offense within a seven (7) year time-span is a category C felony carrying:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • maybe up to $10,000 in fines11

9. Selling or exposing a diseased animal in Las Vegas, Nevada

It is a misdemeanor to willfully use, expose, permit to be sold, sell (or offer to sell) any animal infected with glanders, farcy, or other contagious or infectious diseases dangerous to humans or animals. It is also a misdemeanor to refuse to kill an animal infected with such a dangerous disease. The penalty includes:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines12

10. Sale of disabled horses in Las Vegas, Nevada

It is unlawful to sell a diseased horse in Nevada. The misdemeanor penalty carries a sentence of:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines13

11. Throwing substances injurious to animals in public places in Las Vegas, Nevada

It is a misdemeanor in Nevada when someone willfully throws, drops or places (or causes to be thrown, dropped or placed) upon any road, highway, street or public place any of the following:

  • glass,
  • nails,
  • pieces of metal, or
  • other substances which might wound, disable or injure any animal.

The judge may order a sentence of:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines14
Cow
It is a crime in Nevada to mistreat milk-bearing animals.

12. Mistreating a milk-producing animal in Las Vegas, Nevada

It is a misdemeanor in Nevada for a person who keeps a cow or any animal for the production of milk to do any of the following:

  • to keep the animal in a crowded or unhealthy place,
  • to keep the animal in a diseased condition,
  • to feed the animal food that produces impure or unwholesome milk

The penalty is:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines15

13. Running horses on a highway in Las Vegas, Nevada

A person who unjustifiably causes a horse to draw a vehicle upon any plank road, turnpike or public highway may be prosecuted for a misdemeanor. The penalty is:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines16

14. Carrying animals in a cruel manner in Las Vegas, Nevada

A person who carries (or causes to be carried) an animal in any vessel or vehicle in a cruel or inhuman manner, or so as to produce torture, faces misdemeanor charges. A Nevada judge may sentence the defendant to:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines17

15. Leaving a cat or dog alone in a hot or cold car in Las Vegas, Nevada

It is a misdemeanor in Nevada for a person to allow a cat or dog to remain unattended in a parked or standing motor vehicle during a extreme heat or cold or in any other manner that endangers the health or safety of the animal. The penalty is:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines

Note that this law does not apply in the contexts of lawful hunting of game animals or training exercises or field trials relating to hunting.18 For more information go to our article on Nevada laws for leaving a cat or dog unattended in a car.

Rx call help4 optimized
Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

If you have been accused of "animal abuse" in Nevada, contact our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We can discuss with you for free how they may negotiate or litigate a charge reduction or dismissal. If necessary we will take the case to trial and fight for a "not guilty" verdict. And if the cops confiscated your pet, we will try to get him/her home to you as quickly as possible.

For information on California animal abuse & cruelty laws | Penal Code 597 PC, go to our page on California animal abuse & cruelty laws | Penal Code 597 PC

To report suspected animal abuse contact the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society or Las Vegas Animal Control. To adopt a rescued animal contact the Nevada Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 574.100.
  2. Id.
  3. Id.
  4. NRS 207.235.
  5. NRS 574.150.
  6. NRS 574.070.
  7. NRS 574.060.
  8. NRS 574.105.
  9. NRS 574.107.
  10. NRS 574.110.
  11. NRS 574.120.
  12. NRS 574.130.
  13. NRS 574.140.
  14. NRS 574.160.
  15. NRS 574.170.
  16. NRS 574.180.
  17. NRS 574.190.
  18. NRS 574.195.

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