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LegalKnowledge, Attorney
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I abandoned a cat because he kept hissing at my son and bit

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I abandoned a cat because he kept hissing at my son and bit him unprovoked, my neighbors just reported me, I didn't know it was against the law, am I going to be in legal trouble?
Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help solve your problem.

Good afternoon. I certainly understand your situation and concern. It is a misdemeanor crime to abandon an animal and it is possible that criminal charges may be filed, once an investigation is complete. I have provided the statute below, which controls for your review. While I do believe you were unaware it was against the law, it is not a legal defense, if charged. As such, you could be facing a fine, court costs, probation or possible jail. While jail and probation is extreme, it is possible when charged with a misdemeanor depending on the facts of the case. Moreover, the Judge may order that you not be allowed to own any animals either, if there is a basis to support it.

Under Agriculture & Markets Law § 355, an owner
or person having charge or custody of an animal,
who abandons such animal, or leaves it to die in
a street, road or public place, or who allows such
animal, if it become disabled, to lie in a public street,
road or public place more than three hours after he
receives notice that it is left disabled, is guilty of
a misdemeanor. In addition, under Agriculture
& Markets Law § 331, an animal is deemed to be
abandoned when it is placed in the custody of a
veterinarian, veterinary hospital, boarding kennel
owner or operator, stable owner or operator, or any
other person for treatment, board, or care and is not
removed at the end of the specified period for care
or boarding. Notice must be mailed to the person
who had placed such animal in his custody within
ten days thereafter by means of registered mail to
the last known address of such person. An animal
may also be deemed abandoned if after having
been placed in such custody for an unspecified
period of time is not removed within twenty days
after notice to remove the animal has been given to
the person who placed the animal in such custody,
by registered mail to the last known address of such
person. The giving of notice shall be deemed a
waiver of any lien on the animal for the treatment,
board or care of the animal, but shall not relieve the
owner of the animal removed of his contractual
liability for such treatment, board or care furnished.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

How am I notified about criminal charges and who comes to investigate? Also this cat was living outside my apt bldg for a long time before I volunteered to take him in, I didn't think anyone would take him since I heard shelters had denied him months before, I gave him everything with love when he was with me but I had to put my child first

I certainly understand your decision. If a report was filed, either animal control or the police would come out to visit and speak with you. You have no obligation to speak with them or admit to anything and it would be at your sole discretion. Even though the cat was originally living outside of the building, once you took him in, he likely belonged to you and the obligation to care for him. While you are right in your decision to place your child first, you still needed to try and place him with a shelter, first hand, instead of just relying on what others told you.
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