Please help us help them…

Animal abuse and domestic violence: there is a link

Animal cruelty and neglect are serious crimes and may be an indication that other crimes are co-occurring or about to occur. Violence towards animals often escalates to violence towards people. By reporting suspected animal abuse or neglect, you may be helping other animals and people to stay safe. Animal cruelty is often observed and reported before child abuse or domestic violence. The research supporting this link is available via the links at the bottom of this page.

Please do your part to help keep pets and people in our community safe by reporting suspected animal cruelty to Osceola County Animal Services at the phone number below. Please know that your complaint can be anonymous but it does prevent us from getting additional information from you if needed.

Ways to report animal abuse or neglect:

  • call Osceola County Animal Services at 407-742-8000.

  • call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS and your information will remain anonymous.

  • filing a complaint online by going to

  • All citizens in Florida are mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse or neglect.

To report child or elder abuse:

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Animal abuse/neglect poster



Link circle: abuse
Link circle graphic: abuse from
National Link Coalition


Definition of animal abuse

Hope, a rescued dog

The definition of “animal abuse” varies from State to State and while most people have some idea of what this means, we investigate complaints of abuse or cruelty under Florida State Statute, 828.12, Cruelty to Animals. This statute defines felony cruelty as:

(2) A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal, or a person who owns or has the custody or control of any animal and fails to act, which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, commits aggravated animal cruelty, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

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Examples of animal abuse

Examples of felony animal cruelty under this section of the statute could include many intentional acts such as but not limited to

  • beating,

  • fighting,

  • burning, or

  • drowning an animal.

It is important to note this section also includes

  • “failure to act” that results in the cruel death or excessive and repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.

  • In this scenario, failure to act most commonly comes in the form of failing to obtain veterinary care or failure to make basic provisions for food and water.

As an example, let’s say a dog is hit by a car and the owner does not take the pet to the veterinarian. It is clear the animal is injured as he is not able to walk. Allowing that pet to suffer in pain by “failing” to provide veterinary care, would most likely be considered felony animal cruelty in Florida.

Another example is a “failure” to provide necessary sustenance and allowing an animal to starve. The owner’s “failure to act” results in the animal suffering malnutrition and ultimately death. The animal does not have to die for this to be considered felony animal cruelty.

Another important detail is that not only can owners of animals be charged, but so can others including an adult person living in a home where an animal is allowed to suffer, a temporary caregiver where the owner is out of town, ill, etc. and cannot care for his/her own pet.

In short, if you own, or have custody or control of an animal, you are responsible for its well-being.

In Osceola County

Osceola County Animal Services is the voice for animals and their owners in our jurisdiction. We have two primary functions:

  • working to ensure public safety as it relates to animals and

  • improving the welfare of animals in Osceola County.

We believe these two functions work together towards the good of our community.

Rather than enter cases into the legal system, we much prefer to educate animal owners.  Our Animal Control officers can help citizens keep their pets by informing them of best practices in the care and feeding of their animals. We strive to give advice and suggestions when a problem is reported.

  • Enforcement

Sometimes, enforcement of county policies and rules becomes necessary through the legal system. This may include:

  • fines, issued through Animal Services, or

  • arrest and incarceration by the local police or Sheriff’s department

Reports of abuse and/or neglect, including animal hoarding, are investigated by our ACO (Animal Control Officer) staff as well as the shelter administration. Additionally, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office or the Kissimmee or St Cloud Police Departments as well as the State Attorney’s Office may be involved in the investigation and prosecution of certain abuse and neglect cases, especially animal fighting. Our Animal Control Officers do not make arrests.

Those found guilty in Osceola County court of animal criminal abuse and/or neglect are placed on Osceola County’s Animal Abuse registry, which is available on our website as well as the County Clerk’s web page, to all adoption agencies and citizens.

Click the link below to see the current list of those convicted of animal abuse in Osceola County.

Animal abuse database


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Osceola County stories

Nora’s Rescue
Sir Phillip, the horse
Click the photo to read about Sir Philip.

The story of Hope


Informational links

National Link Coalition research
Linking human and animal abuse
Nat’l Center for Biological research
Linking animal cruelty & family violence
Animal Law research
Cruelty to animals & people: related crimes

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Recovering horse

Dog in cage

Dog and cat interacting