Recently, two suspects, a father, and a son were arrested in Ventura County on suspicion of animal cruelty. The arrests came after a search warrant was served in Lockwood Valley, a small community in the Los Padres National Forest.
During the search, law enforcement officers discovered “significant animal abuse and neglect” at the residence. Some animals were kept in poor conditions, sometimes without water. After the investigation, law enforcement officers confiscated six cows, six dogs, four pigs, and five horses from the property. The suspects, M. Beale, 54, and M. Beale, 23, were arrested on felony animal cruelty charges and were booked in Ventura County Jail. They were later released on a $10,000 bail bond.
California’s animal abuse and cruelty laws fall under California Penal Code 597 PC. The law makes it a crime to maliciously kill, harm, maim, or torture an animal. The charge is a “wobbler” that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. Under this law, farm animals, stray animals, wild animals, and pets are all protected.
Some examples of animal cruelty include, but are not limited to:
- Leaving a pet alone for several days without food and water
- Intentionally throwing an animal into oncoming traffic
- Forcing an animal to stay outdoors in unreasonable conditions (extreme heat or cold)
As mentioned, animal cruelty is a “wobbler” in California that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalties in misdemeanor cases include up to 1 year in county jail. The penalties for felony convictions include up to 3 years in state prison.
The defendants, in this case, are facing felony-level charges which could result in substantial jail time.