District Attorney Morrissey is committed to the rigorous enforcement of laws prohibiting cruelty to animals. 

Cruelty to animals has always been a serious matter in Massachusetts – in 1641 the Massachusetts Bay Colony adopted a law prohibiting "any Tyranny or Cruelty towards any Bruit Creatures which are usually kept for the use of Man."  In 1836, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted a law providing for up to one year incarceration for cruelly beating or torturing any animal.  In 2004, the Massachusetts Legislature made animal cruelty a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment. 

District Attorney Morrissey has specially assigned prosecutors to deal with allegations of all types of animal cruelty including:

  • Starving
  • Hoarding
  • Bestiality
  • Shooting
  • Stabbing
  • Beating


If you are aware of animal cruelty, contact your local police department and/or animal control officer to report it.  You may also call the Norfolk District Attorney's office at (781) 830-4800.

The websites listed below provide more information about animal cruelty and how to stop it.

Animal Legal Defense Fund
Founded in 1979, the Animal Legal Defense Fund fights to protect animals through the legal system and provides resources for prosecutors and citizens.

American Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals

Founded in 1866 and based in New York, the ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.

Humane Society of the United States
Established in 1954, the Humane Society works to reduce suffering and to create meaningful social change for animals by advocating for sensible public policies, investigating cruelty, working to enforce existing laws and educating the public about animal issues.

International Veterinary
Forensic Sciences Association

Founded in 2008, the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association educates the animal welfare community and law enforcement on the application of forensic science techniques in cases of animal abuse.