Humane Law Enforcement

San Diego Humane Society is dedicated to protecting animals throughout San Diego County, either by enforcing animal cruelty and neglect laws, so that all animals are treated with respect, or by placing them in appropriate homes.

23SDHS_StockSan Diego Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement has officers in the field seven days a week, handling a variety of animal cruelty complaints. Humane Officers get their enforcement powers from the California Corporations Code 14502, and can exercise the powers of a peace officer while investigating animal-related crimes.

While our primary focus is educating owners about proper care for their animals, we use the authority that we have been given to ensure every animal receives care as required by law. Animal cruelty encompasses behavior harmful to animals ranging from neglect or hoarding to malicious killing. Most cruelty investigated by Humane Officers is unintentional neglect that can be resolved through education. Intentional cruelty, or abuse, is knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter, or veterinary care, or maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating, or killing an animal.

Our Humane Officers also respond to and rescue animals from disasters in San Diego and surrounding areas with the assistance of the Humane Society’s 24-hour volunteer-operated Animal Rescue Reserve.

On average we respond to nearly 2,000 reports of animal cruelty annually. Our Humane Officers work daily to promote humane law to the public and the animals we serve.


Animal cruelty investigations do not include barking dogs, loud cats, or loose animals.

Animal complaints (barking, etc.) for the cities of Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos and Vista are handled by Humane Officers of San Diego Humane Society. For more information please see our Field Services page.

If you are a resident outside of these cities and have a concern with a loud animal, call your local police agency or code compliance department. If you see a loose or vicious animal, or an injured animal on the side of the road, call your local animal control.

Important Information & Resources

Animal Rescue Reserve
A group of highly-trained volunteers dedicated to assisting people during disasters by safely evacuating horses, livestock, and household pets.  LEARN MORE

California Animal Laws
If you aren’t sure what’s legal and what’s illegal when it comes to the treatment of animals, see this page at Michigan State University College of Law.  LEARN MORE

Humane Academy
Learn how you can train to become a Humane Officer.  LEARN MORE

Report Animal Cruelty
Call 619.243.3466 to report a case of animal cruelty or neglect. You can send the report anonymously, if you wish. If you prefer to mail in or drop off a paper report, you may download this form.

For more information about animal cruelty and its link to other forms of violence, visit or