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Animal Cruelty Charges for Walking Dog from Car

Posted by attorney Jeremy Geigle

Yoga instructor Joan Zalk was arrested for animal cruelty on September 16 2011 in Boulder, CO for running a leashed Chihuahua named Cooper that she was dogsitting along-side her moving Toyota Camry. The dog was panting for breath, trying to keep up with the ten to fifteen MPH pace of the car. Onlooker Elizabeth Whaley told officers “The poor dog was running its guts out trying to keep up." When Elizabeth pulled up beside Zalk to confront her from her vehicle, Zalk threatened Elizabeth with a gun that she claimed to have in the car with her. Zalk then drove off and was greeted with police officers at her home. As the police looked over Cooper, they noticed fresh abrasions, hair loss, and open wounds on his neck.

While being questioned, Zalk told police that Cooper needed to walk a minimum of three hours each day to keep him from going “ballistic." She also stated that Cooper’s owners gave her the okay to walk him from the car, which was not what the sitters said when questioned by police. Zalk ended up accepting condemnation for animal cruelty and receiving 100 hours of community service and a one-year deferred sentence—which means that her record will be cleared if she doesn’t get into trouble with police over the following year.

In Arizona, cruelty to animals is defined by A.R.S. 13-2910 as follows:

A person commits cruelty to animals if they do any of the following:

  1. Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally fail to provide medical attention to prevent suffering to any animal under their custody or control.
  2. Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally subject any animal under their custody or control to cruel abandonment or neglect.
  3. Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally inflict unnecessary physical injury to any animal.
  4. Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally kill any animal that is under the custody or control of another person without the consent or legal privilege of the owner.
  5. Recklessly subject any animal to cruel mistreatment.
  6. Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally subjecting any animal under their control to cruel neglect or abandonment that results in serious injury to the animal.
  7. Recklessly interfere with, harm, or kill a working or service animal; intentionally or knowingly allow a dog that is under their control to kill or cause physical injury to a service animal.

Depending on which of the above an offender is guilty of, the crime can be charged as either a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 6 felony in Arizona.

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