Orlando, FL asked in Animal / Dog Law for Colorado

Q: I know someone who habitually kills their own animals, rather than pay for euthanasia. Is there a law against this?

This person has killed their own pets, for reasons ranging from genuinely putting a pet out of its own misery, to the pet peeing around the house too much. It's deeply disturbing, but is there a law in Colorado regulating what methods of at-home euthanasia are allowed? If so, how would this be handled in court if the body has already been buried? Are there mental health requirements for someone charged with a "minor" form of animal cruelty like this? Is this a law too minor to regularly be enforced, in practice?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Kristina M. Bergsten
Kristina M. Bergsten
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Media, PA
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: Generally speaking, animal owners can dispose of their animals however they see fit, so long as it doesn't create unnecessary pain or suffering (i.e., shooting the dog and letting it bleed to death, instead of a "kill shot", or drowning). That said, I would recommend gathering evidence of what your neighbor does and contacting your local law enforcement about this and having them investigate.

1 user found this answer helpful

Juliet Piccone
Juliet Piccone
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Greenwood Village, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: Yes, there absolutely are animal cruelty laws that prohibit killing your own pets. State, county ,and municipality.

Under Colorado state law, 18-9-201 (2) "Animal" means any living dumb creature, including a certified police working dog, a police working horse, and a service animal as those terms are defined, respectively, in subsections (2.3), (2.4), and (4.7) of this section

(2.7) "Euthanasia" means to produce a humane death by techniques accepted by the American veterinary medical association.

(3) "Mistreatment" means every act or omission that causes or unreasonably permits the continuation of unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering.


(4.5) "Serious physical harm", as used in section 18-9-202, means any of the following:

(a) Any physical harm that carries a substantial risk of death;

(b) Any physical harm that causes permanent maiming or that involves some temporary, substantial maiming; or

(c) Any physical harm that causes acute pain of a duration that results in substantial suffering.

18-9-202. Cruelty to animals - aggravated cruelty to animals - service animals - short title

(1) (a) A person commits cruelty to animals if he or she knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence overdrives, overloads, overworks, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, unnecessarily or cruelly beats, allows to be housed in a manner that results in chronic or repeated serious physical harm, carries or confines in or upon any vehicles in a cruel or reckless manner, engages in a sexual act with an animal, or otherwise mistreats or neglects any animal, or causes or procures it to be done, or, having the charge or custody of any animal, fails to provide it with proper food, drink, or protection from the weather consistent with the species, breed, and type of animal involved, or abandons an animal.

(b) Any person who intentionally abandons a dog or cat commits the offense of cruelty to animals.

(1.5) (a) A person commits cruelty to animals if he or she recklessly or with criminal negligence tortures, needlessly mutilates, or needlessly kills an animal.

(b) A person commits aggravated cruelty to animals if he or she knowingly tortures, needlessly mutilates, or needlessly kills an animal.

The penalties range from misdemeanors to up to a class 5 felony so this is no laughing matter. Please try to document sufficient proof and contact the Bureau of Animal Protection within the state department of agriculture. They even have an on line reporting form.

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