A Bakersfield woman may face criminal charges for dragging a dog behind her while riding an electric scooter. According to reports, the woman rode at least 100 yards while the dog was tethered to the scooter. She only came to a stop when witnesses were able to get her attention and express their concern about the dog.
The dog suffered several injuries but is expected to make a full recovery. While no arrests have been made, police are actively investigating the situation. The fact that several bystanders recorded the incident will help to establish whether or not the woman violated any of California’s animal cruelty laws.
California’s Animal Cruelty Laws
California has some of the nation’s most progressive animal cruelty laws. State lawmakers and voters have made it very clear that domestic animals are not objects that can be tortured, mistreated, or neglected. Abusing an animal can have serious criminal consequences.
California Penal Code 597 PC contains the majority of the state’s animal cruelty laws. Many behaviors are prohibited under this section. You can face charges for animal cruelty under 597 PC if you:
- Overdrive, overload, overwork, torture, torment, mutilate, cruelly kill an animal;
- Deprive an animal of necessary food, water, or shelter; and
- Subject an animal to needless suffering.
This is not an exhaustive list of behaviors that violate California’s animal cruelty laws. Generally speaking, any behavior that imposes unnecessary and/or cruel suffering on an animal is a violation of the law. This can include acts that are intentional and those that are a result of negligence.
Examples of Animal Cruelty in California
Penal Code 597 PC doesn’t just provide a general ban on the mistreatment of animals. The section also provides very clear and specific examples of behaviors that violate the law. These include:
- Intentionally killing or maiming an animal without legal justification
- Intentionally provoking animals to fight (e.g., dogfighting, cockfighting)
- Intentionally or negligently depriving an animal of food, water, or shelter
- Placing animals in small cages for long periods of time
- Leaving an animal alone in a vehicle
- Hoarding several animals in a small space, and
- Leaving animals unattended for long periods of time.
What Charges Could the Bakersfield Woman Face For Dragging the Dog Behind Her Scooter?
A California woman is accused of dragging a dog behind a Bird electric scooter for more than 100 yards while traveling 15 MPH. According to witnesses, the woman did not appear to be concerned about the dog’s safety. One witness stated that the woman offered a “smart-alec smile” when she noticed that she was being photographed. Another witness claims that the woman said that “things like this happen” when asked about the dog.
California law prohibits any behavior that “subjects and animal to needless suffering.” During their investigation, police may determine that the woman subjected her dog to needless suffering by dragging it behind her while riding the scooter.
The scooter rider will likely argue that she didn’t know that the dog was behind her and that she stopped once she found out. However, video footage of the incident, paired with witness testimony, could be used to refute these arguments.
Needless suffering doesn’t have to be inflicted intentionally. It can still be a violation of California law to cause an animal to suffer because you were negligent.
Animal Cruelty is a Wobbler in California
Violations of 597 PC can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. The charge a person will face will depend on a variety of factors, including:
- History of animal abuse
- Criminal record
- The extent of harm to animals involved, and
- State of mind (e.g., intentional vs. negligent).
Misdemeanor animal abuse convictions are punishable by up to 12 months in County Jail. Felony animal abuse convictions are punishable by up to 3 years in a California state prison. Convictions may also be punished with fines and mandatory terms of probation.