Animal Cruelty Investigations in the City of Dallas

The SPCA of Texas investigates cases of suspected animal cruelty in the City of Dallas and in Dallas County as well as in several other counties. We respond to cases reported to us by individuals and by law enforcement agencies. 

We maintain an Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit with three full-time humane investigators, one chief investigator and one case manager.

Animal cruelty complaints can be made via phone by calling (214) 742-SPCA (7722) seven days a week or online at

Memorandum of Understanding between Dallas Police Department and SPCA of Texas

In November of 2016, the Dallas Police Department and the SPCA of Texas signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) designed to help bring perpetrators of animal cruelty to justice. Under this MOU, the Dallas Police Department and the SPCA of Texas investigate cases involving alleged animal cruelty within the city limits of Dallas.

The Dallas Police Department and Dallas Animal Services work to receive and identify cases of animal cruelty in Dallas County, and the Dallas Police Department’s designated Animal Cruelty Detectives oversee the investigation of these cases. The SPCA of Texas investigates cruelty complaints that come directly to the organization through phone calls, messages and emails. The SPCA of Texas provides housing and medical care for animals involved in these cases during the investigation.

Since the time that MOU was signed, the SPCA of Texas has been able to compile data related to the cases we investigate, and these additional data sets have allowed us to track these cases in a more strategic way.

While we don't have the ability to say that cruelty is on the rise, our resources have been. We're responding to more cases as our resources to respond increase, allowing us to help more animals.

In partnership with the Dallas Police Department and Dallas County District Attorney's Office, our goal is to investigate cruelty complaints, remove animals that are being cruelly treated and prosecute individuals who abuse, torture and kill animals, holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Data - 2017 & 2018


View data from Animal Cruelty Investigations the SPCA of Texas’ Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit has performed in the City of Dallas HERE

Looking at the number of investigations, from January through September of 2017, the SPCA of Texas investigated 901 cases of alleged animal cruelty, and from January through September of 2018, the SPCA of Texas investigated 1,134 cases of alleged animal cruelty. That’s a 25.9% increase.

Looking to the total number of animals removed from cruelty, from January through September of 2017, the SPCA of Texas removed 485 animals from cruelty, and from January through September of 2018, the SPCA of Texas removed 413 animals from cruelty. That’s a 14.9% decrease.

Looking at the number of arrests made, from January through September of 2017, the SPCA of Texas arrested 7 individuals, and from January through September of 2018, the SPCA of Texas arrested 12 individuals (with one pending arrest). That’s a 71.4% increase.

More Data

For more data, see our Annual Reports.

How the SPCA of Texas Investigates Cases of Suspected Animal Cruelty

  1. The SPCA of Texas' Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit opens a case only after we have received a complaint of alleged cruelty or abuse. We receive complaints from individuals as well as from law enforcement agencies such as, in the case of this MOU, the Dallas Police Department.
  2. Once we open an investigation, we assign an investigator to the case and that investigator begins work.
  3. In many cases, education is what is needed. If our investigators encounter a case that can be resolved through helping a person get their animals' conditions into compliance with Texas Health and Safety Code, we do so. That includes providing education, food, enclosures, etc. to assist. If this happens, we enter into a compliance agreement with the owner, and check back with the owner regularly to determine if the agreement is being met. 
  4. If the animals' conditions are dire (from the beginning or at any time during the investigation), if a compliance agreement is not met by an animal owner, or if our investigator finds the animals' conditions to be out of compliance with Texas Healthy and Safety code at any point during the investigation, and the investigator has credible evidence or probable cause sufficient to seize the animals, the investigator will take the evidence to a judge and apply for a seizure warrant.
  5. Only credible information backed by factual evidence as required by the legal process can be used to build a case that can be filed with the proper authority, in the case of this MOU, with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. Proper chain of evidence must also be met.
  6. It is the burden of the investigative body, in this case the SPCA of Texas' Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit, to prove the facts of the case and to provide proper evidence, gathered in the proper way according to legal standards to the District Attorney's Office and any judge.
  7. It is our goal to build the best case possible in each instance in order to move forward with that case and prosecute.

What is the Law? 

In Texas, two types of laws protect animals from cruelty: civil laws and criminal laws. The laws are similar but differ in the penalties they impose.

In a civil case, if a judge rules that a person or people have been cruel to animals, the judge may take away their animals and/or order them to pay restitution.

If prosecuted in a criminal case, a person may face penalties including fines, jail or both.

What Does Animal Cruelty Look Like?

Texas Health and Safety Code and Texas Penal Code prohibits a person from intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cruelly treating an animal. The following actions define cruel punishment:

  • torturing an animal
  • failing to provide food, care or shelter
  • abandoning an animal; transporting or confining an animal in a cruel manner
  • killing, seriously injuring or poisoning an animal
  • causing an animal to fight with another
  • using a live animal as a lure in a dog race
  • tripping a horse
  • injuring an animal belonging to another person
  • seriously overworking an animal

How Else Does the SPCA of Texas Help?

In addition to Animal Cruelty Investigations, our organization provides many additional resources to help animals in crisis. 

Our Pet Resource Center is designed to support pet owners who are at risk of having to surrender their pets. The Pet Resource Center team works to provide alternatives to surrender and resources that may help owners keep their pets in their homes and out of local streets and shelters.

Our Animal Behavior Program goes above and beyond to provide behavioral rehabilitative care for all of the animals at the SPCA of Texas, including those seized by our Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit. This allows us to rehabilitate shy, fearful or otherwise behaviorally challenged pets so that they may eventually be placed up for adoption and find loving homes.

Our subsidized Medical Services assist pets of people who may not otherwise be able to afford non-emergency, spay/neuter or wellness-related care. Our Southern Dallas Initiative provides free, high-quality, spay/neuter to cats and dogs in the Southern Dallas area at no cost. The spay/neuter also includes the pets annual rabies vaccination, DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvo) vaccination (dogs), FVRCP (rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia) vaccination (cats), and microchipping. The SPCA of Texas offers free surgery transport service, if needed. The pet owner must live in one of the following zip codes to qualify: 75116, 75134, 75203, 75207, 75208, 75210, 75211, 75212, 75215, 75216, 75217, 75223, 75224, 75226, 75227, 75228, 75232, 75233, 75236, 75237, 75241, 75249, 75253. Residents of all other areas can take advantage of our regular low prices!

Our Humane Educational programs, through our Critter Camp and Youth Opportunities, help educate the next generation regarding proper care and humane treatment of animals.


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SPCA of Texas Voices

"I'm absolutely in LOVE with Kitty (formerly Kaleigh). I know her name isn't original at all but I just started calling her that until I could think of a name and it just stuck - it's so her! I've attached two photos - she's seriously the most beautiful kitty in the world! She loves to steal tennis balls and bones from her dog sister - she thinks she's a dog! She enjoys going for walks and car rides, snuggling with mom, bird watching, drinking from the sink, playing with her pipe cleaners and getting into mom's makeup in the mornings. I couldn't 'imagine life without her. She's the absolute best!"

Laureen Jankins

Pet Owner