July 29, 2014 By Paul Wallin

According to California Penal Code Section 597t hoarding animals is a violation of California’s animal cruelty laws. This is a serious crime in California, a state that has adopted some of the most severe punishments for convicted animal abusers.

animal hoarding
Animal hoarding is a violation of animal cruelty laws in California.

The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC) defines animal hoarding as:

  • Accumulating a large number of animals to the point that you cannot provide for their nutrition or veterinary care;
  • Failure to acknowledge the deteriorating health of the animals and the overcrowding; and
  • Failure to recognize the negative effects their conditions are having on them and on other members of the household.1

Animal hoarding is a dangerous form of animal cruelty typically involving animals that are kept in such horrendous conditions that they are deprived of normal socialization, nutrition and sanitation.2

If you hoard animals in a confined space, you are not only harming the animals, you are also harming your own health and the health of other people living in your household. Animal waste contains high levels of ammonia, which is dangerous to humans.3 You also risk contracting diseases and infections such as rabies and ringworm from the carcasses of any dead animals.

Furthermore, tormenting an animal, depriving it of sustenance, drink or shelter, or inflicting unnecessary cruelty is a violation of this law.

Consequences of Animal Hoarding

California has enacted some of the harshest penalties against animal hoarding in the country. Depending on the circumstances of your case and your past criminal history, animal hoarding can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Intentionally hoarding animals is a violation of California Penal Code Section 597. If you are convicted of misdemeanor animal hoarding, you could face up to one year in county jail and fines of up to $20,000.

If you are charged with a felony under Penal Code Section 597, you could face 16 months, two or three years in state prison and up to $20,000 in fines.4

Other penalties that could come as a result of a conviction include:

  • Court-ordered counseling;
  • Paying fees associated with housing the animals after they are seized by law enforcement; and
  • Having the animals permanently taken from you.5

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

Felony Attorneys
Contact our experienced animal cruelty attorneys today.

If you are accused of hoarding animals, you could face severe consequences. California is known for having the toughest laws against animal cruelty in the country. Because animals cannot defend themselves, law enforcement agencies feel social pressures to prosecute alleged animal abusers.6 This is why you need a skilled criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations. Our team of attorneys at Wallin & Klarich has been successfully defending our clients accused of animal cruelty for over 40 years.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our experienced attorneys are available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 to discuss your case. We will get through this together.


1. [http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ddushoarding.htm]
2. [Id.]
3. [Id.]
4. [Id.]
5. [Id.]
6. [http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/NDAA%20Animal%20Abuse%20monograph%20150dpi%20complete.pdf]

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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