Animal Health & Welfare

Cruelty to Animals

Animal Care Officers with Dog and other Dogs

Cruelty to animals is a serious offense. Cruelty comes in many forms such as an animal not having food, water or shelter to an animal being locked in a hot car or an animal being beaten or tortured in some way. While residents may have varying views of the proper treatment of animals, the legal definition of cruelty that Animal Care Officers are bound to is specifically noted in both City(Chapter 5) and State (Health and Safety Code; Chapters 821-829) law.

At a minimum, an owner, keeper or temporary owner of an animal is required to provide their animals with humane care and treatment as follows:

  • Access to an adequate supply of fresh air;
  • Species-specific food;
  • Fresh water;
  • Exercise;
  • Shelter, as defined by this Code; 
  • Shade* (natural or artificial) and
  • Veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering. 

(Chapter 5, Sec. 5-6 Standard of Care)

*The City of San Antonio recently added shade as a requirement for all outdoor pets as a standard of care. Shade is considered separate from shelter and an owner who does not provide shade for their outdoor pet can be cited. Please click here to read the ordinance revision concerning shade


Animal Care Services relies on good neighbors to report acts of cruelty. If you witness an act of cruelty, please call 3-1-1 or 210.207.6000 and make a detailed report including your call back number so we may get more information if needed. You can remain anonymous if you wish, but it's important you provide 3-1-1 customer service representatives with as much information as possible. You may also report cruelty through the City's Online Service Request system. Animal Cruelty Investigators review all reported calls of cruelty or neglect and will further investigate a suspected case if cruelty or neglect can be legally proved.