The Royal Society for Protection of Animals prosecuted two brothers owning a loved, 11-year old rottweiler (which is pretty old!) for animal cruelty because their dog was grossly overweight.
An Englishwoman who had a very old german shepherd who was underweight spent a lot of money to fight a case prosecuted by the Royal Society for Protection of Animals for animal cruelty because her dog was "in lean condition."
The case was thrown out in court, because the RSPCA had not properly disclosed documents that undermined their case completely and worked from the wrong case file for another dog altogether. Turns out their case was lousy. If the woman hadn't spent money to fight it, she could have been convicted based on lies. The case reports involves some interesting judge's findings on the problems of "imposing an uniform standard of care."
He also objects to stigmatizing defendants by implying they are also likely to abuse children. This link is most likely only when pets are assaulted by domestic abusers in a fit of rage.
Many prosecutions for animal cruelty involve lack of veterinary care, neglect, which active malice need not exist.
Let us take a hypothetical example. A woman who owns a dog or other pet, always has taken care of it. One day, she gets in an accident when coming home and falls into a coma or undergoes emergency surgery and is out of it for over a day or four. This happens to thousands a year.
She has no family and nobody to check on her dog, and it is a few days before she recovers. Meanwhile the dog is at home, unable to be let out or taken care of. The neighbors may act IF they know she hasn't come home yet and they've been entrusted to take of her dog before. If not, the dog could well starve and foul the home while the owner is in a coma. When the investigators come, they see the animal frantic from hunger and anxiety and a mess everywhere. It doesn't look nice, does it?
By a "strict objective standard of care" as the RSPCA advocates, the woman should be arrested for neglect or felony animal cruelty because she was hit by a car and was NOT able to take care of her pet.
People who find a starving stray dog and nurse it back to health can be prosecuted and targeted for having obviously ill or underweight dogs that have been poorly taken care of-- never mind the person just found the dog and has taken it to a vet already. You see, the person is in the possession of an obviously maltreated animal, ergo the person is guilty of abusing it.
If you think this happens only in England, you're wrong. Animal Control Officers (who often have no law OR veterinary training whatsoever) will prosecute owners for apparent cases of cruelty.
Imagine you're walking and talking with your friend in a wheelchair after a severe car accident. He has a black eye, broken limbs, etc. Would you like to be immediately suspected of assaulting your friend without any proof or questions asked? Of course not! When it is a human involved, people ask "What happened?!"
We need to get back to that "What happened?!" attitude when we see hurt and sick animals. Often the story isn't what you might think it is.
This explanation of rights that the RSPCA do and do NOT have are also fairly applicable to Americans and any agencies seeking to prosecute for animal cruelty. Under the law, NOBODY can enter your property for a search and seizure without your permission without a warrant. DO not give this permission.
Private agencies like the RSPCA, ASPCA, or others MUST get a warrant from court, and even then they are not authorized enter your property without your permission or the presence of law personnel. They are private citizens, not officers of the law. They need a court order to gain access, not a warrant.
If they come waiving a warrant but without law officers, insist on reading it and make sure they WAIT for law officers to get there.