• Veselin Kirov Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Forestry, Sofia
  • Iliyan Kostov Risk Assessment Center on Food Chain, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Sofia
  • Silvia Kirova Sofia Regional Court, Sofia
  • Gergana Nikolova Balieva Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Trakia University, Stara Zagora
Keywords: animal cruelty, penal code, protection of animals


With the development of modern societies, public perceptions of animals are changing. The existence of animals begins to be seen not only as an element of property, but also gaining self-worth, and it requires an understanding of the ability of animals to feel pain, stress and suffering. Cruelty to animals has a wide public outreach and requires special attention by state competent authorities and judicial authorities to control, detect and sanction different acts of animal cruelty. Such acts should be treated as socially dangerous actions and the perpetrators should be prosecuted as there is a scientifically proven connection between cruel treatment of animals and lasting irreversible consequences on the human mentality with subsequent criminal acts. According to the national legislation of the different countries, acts of cruelty are being criminalized concerning different categories of animals or only some of them - pets, productive animals, experimental animals. Typically, specimens of wildlife as well as invertebrates are not the subject of criminalization for cases of cruelty, but of other types of crime such as illegal trade.
In Bulgaria, until 2011 the specific animal welfare legislation did not give sufficient provisions for prevention of violence against animals. This led to the need to adopt amendments to the Penal Code with texts criminalizing the cruelty to animals in the country.
The present study analyzes the adopted texts in the Penal Code as well as the specific veterinary legislation in order to clarify the responsibilities of the competent authorities and the sanctions imposed in case of animal cruelty acts. In Bulgaria, any manifestation of cruelty to a vertebrate animal that has led to the death, severe or permanent disability has been raised by the legislator as a separate offense with criminal liability against the perpetrator. Actions other than those defined as a commitment of an offense against animals under the new provisions of the Penal Code, shall be regarded as violations under the Act on Veterinary Activities and the Animal Protection Act and shall be subject to administrative sanctions. For a clearer definition of the nature of the action itself, a definition of the term "cruelty" is provided within the Animal Protection Act.
The administrative punishment body should assess any case of cruelty against a vertebrate animal and report whether it is a criminal offense within the meaning of Art. 325b of the Penal Code, in order to avoid violation of the non bis in idem principle.


Закон за ветеринарномедицинската дейност (изм., бр. 98 от 27.11.2018 г., в сила от 7.01.2019 г)

Закон за защита на животните – (ДВ, бр. 13 от 8.02.2008 г., в сила от 31.01.2008 г.)

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МОТИВИ към проекта на Закон за допълнение на Наказателния кодекс (№ 002-01-34 от 5.05.2010 г., 41-вото НС)

Наказателен кодекс (ДВ, бр. 33 от 2011 г., в сила от 27.07.2011 г.)

Наказателен кодекс (изм. и доп., ДВ , бр. 101 от 19.12.2017 г., изм., бр. 55 от 3.07.2018 г.)

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How to Cite
Kirov, V., Kostov, I., Kirova, S., & Nikolova Balieva, G. (2019). CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENT OF LEGISLATION ON CRIMINALIZATION OF ANIMAL CRUELTY. Knowledge International Journal, 32(1), 201 - 206. Retrieved from