(1) A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, commits animal cruelty, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.
(2) A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal, or a person who owns or has the custody or control of any animal and fails to act, which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, commits aggravated animal cruelty, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.
(a) A person convicted of a violation of this subsection, where the finder of fact determines that the violation includes the knowing and intentional torture or torment of an animal that injures, mutilates, or kills the animal, shall be ordered to pay a minimum mandatory fine of $2,500 and undergo psychological counseling or complete an anger management treatment program.
(b) A person convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this subsection shall be required to pay a minimum mandatory fine of $5,000 and serve a minimum mandatory period of incarceration of 6 months. In addition, the person shall be released only upon expiration of sentence, is not eligible for parole, control release, or any form of early release, and must serve 100 percent of the court-imposed sentence. Any plea of nolo contendere shall be considered a conviction for purposes of this subsection.
(3) A person who commits multiple acts of animal cruelty or aggravated animal cruelty against an animal may be charged with a separate offense for each such act. A person who commits animal cruelty or aggravated animal cruelty against more than one animal may be charged with a separate offense for each animal such cruelty was committed upon.
(4) A veterinarian licensed to practice in the state shall be held harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decisions made or services rendered under the provisions of this section. Such a veterinarian is, therefore, under this subsection, immune from a lawsuit for his or her part in an investigation of cruelty to animals.
(5) A person who intentionally trips, fells, ropes, or lassos the legs of a horse by any means for the purpose of entertainment or sport shall be guilty of a third degree felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this subsection, “trip” means any act that consists of the use of any wire, pole, stick, rope, or other apparatus to cause a horse to fall or lose its balance, and “horse” means any animal of any registered breed of the genus Equus, or any recognized hybrid thereof. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply when tripping is used:
(a) To control a horse that is posing an immediate threat to other livestock or human beings;
(b) For the purpose of identifying ownership of the horse when its ownership is unknown; or
(c) For the purpose of administering veterinary care to the horse.
History.—s. 4, ch. 4971, 1901; GS 3395; RGS 5244; CGL 7363; s. 2, ch. 70-50; s. 4, ch. 71-12; s. 949, ch. 71-136; s. 1, ch. 82-116; s. 2, ch. 89-194; s. 5, ch. 94-339; s. 1286, ch. 97-102; s. 26, ch. 99-391; s. 35, ch. 2000-308; s. 1, ch. 2002-51; s. 1, ch. 2013-245.