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Animal Cruelty FAQ

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding animal cruelty. A special thanks to the Los Angeles Police Department's Animal Cruelty Task Force for permission to use some of the content on this page.

What is animal cruelty?
Animal cruelty is the severe intentional neglect (includes failing to provide animals with adequate basic necessities supporting health and well-being for extended periods leading to suffering, permanent injury or death) , malicious and intentional inflicting of pain, sexual abuse, mutilating, torturing, or wounding a living animal, or malicious and intentional killing of an animal without a lawful reason. The animal may be domesticated, a pet, a wild animal or a wild animal kept in captivity.
What does animal cruelty include?
Animal cruelty includes any activity that causes unlawful and unnecessary distress, pain or suffering, injury, disability, or death. Examples of animal cruelty includes but is not limited to starving, abandoning when wounded or ill, strangulation, drowning, kicking, hitting, choking, hanging, stabbing, inhumane shooting, setting on fire, or organized animal fighting and poisoning using a non-approved product. Mental abuse which is a deliberate action that creates a negative emotional or psychological state such as fear, distress or depression is also considered animal abuse.
Why shouldn’t we tolerate animal cruelty?

Animal cruelty is not only illegal, it is one of the more destructive ills in society and is very often linked with other criminal behavior such as domestic violence, child abuse, gang activity, drug production and trafficking and violent anti-social behavior. Abuse can be inflicted in a wide variety of ways and can be rooted in a variety of causes.

The enforcement of animal cruelty offenses has serious implications for vulnerable animals as well as public safety and community well-being overall.

What happens to animals seized by ACIU or Peace Officers?
Animals that have been seized are taken to the City of Edmonton's Animal Care and Control Centre, a Humane Society, or an appropriate caretaker as defined by and in accordance with the Animal Protection Act of Alberta.
What is the difference between ACIU and Bylaw enforcement?
EPS Animal Cruelty Investigation Unit (ACIU) areas of enforcement include:

  • Intentional harm to animal(s) (i.e. kicking, hitting, choking, punching, hanging, stabbing, shooting, setting on fire, or electrocuting and animal hoarding)
  • Willful or intentional activity that causes unnecessary pain or suffering, injury or death (domestic or wild by nature)
  • Willfully abandoning or neglecting an animal in severe distress
  • Willfully failing to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter, care or veterinary treatment causing the animal severe distress
  • Dog fighting (i.e. encourage, aid, arrange, assist, receive money, breeding animals for the purposes of fighting or baiting)
  • Intentional exposure to or administer illicit substances, poisons or injurious drugs
  • Using an animal(s) as a weapon(s) 
  • Threats to injure or kill an animal(s) (to kill, poison or injure an animal that is the property of any person or cause unnecessary distress to an animal)
  • Sexual abuse of an animal
  • Criminal negligence (ie. dog bites or attacks that are criminal in nature, dangerous dogs at large etc.)


  • CoE Animal Care and Control (ACC) areas of enforcement include:

  • Inadequate food/shelter/water/space/ventilation
  • Inadequate care when wounded or ill
  • Leaving a Vet clinic against medical advice
  • Exposure to heat or cold
  • Animal(s) left in vehicles in extreme temperatures
  • Hoarding
  • Travelling event inspections
  • Animal holding facility inspections (pet store, groomers, zoos, daycare, boarding etc.)
  • Abandoned animal(s)
  • Inappropriate breeders
  • Excessive barking
  • Dog bites or attacks (ACC will notify EPS if criminal)
  • Pets without a licence
  • Dogs or cats at large
  • Failure to clean up pet defecation
  • Problem wildlife
  • Deceased animals on public property
  • If an ACC investigation results in the death of an animal(s) including humane euthanasia as a result of abuse or neglect, ACC will notify ACIU
  • Is the public allowed to foster/adopt an animal impounded by ACIU?
    Fostering is currently not available. However, many of the animals can be adopted through approved local pet rescue organizations.