Cat Abuse: Does the punishment fit the crime?

How harshly should cat abusers be punished? What percentage are punished? Firstly we have to recognize that, sadly, most cat abuse is unreported. That’s my opinion. However, when a cat abuser is caught, occasionally because he does not think he is abusing a cat, what punishment fits the crime?

Don’t worry, I think the video is just about watchable to a cat lover.

Above is a v.short video of a man, Matthew Coffin, who holds a cat by her tail and lifts her up and down twice. Fortunately, the cat is young and light. There was no injury. There could have been spinal injuries. The man was convicted and sentenced thanks to the RSPCA. His sentence was:

  • 10 year ban on keeping animals
  • Fine of £150 and he had to pay court costs of £257.50

By the way, I am surprised the woman next to him did nothing to stop it or at least protest loudly afterward. She is quite possibly the cat’s owner.

A lot of people might think the punishment harsh because he was “just larking around” and the cat was unharmed. This little case of cat abuse is quite interesting in that the punishment may surprise some people from countries other than England. Behind closed doors this sort of thing probably happens all the time.

However, Mathew Coffin, appears to have no concept of how to behave decently towards animals. As a consequence he cannot be trusted to be around animals, which is why he has been banned from keeping an animal for ten years. Incidentally, a ban might not be a punishment at all because he may have no intention of keeping an animal. Although it may affect long term relationships.

You could argue the ban should be indefinite until a probation officer is convinced that he was safe around animals. Perhaps the sentencing should include a course of training on cat caretaking and/or animal husbandry. Is that too idealistic an idea? Is it impossible to correct the mentality and attitude of this sort of person? My preferred sentence would be a lifetime ban until the perpetrator demonstrated he/she was able to interact with an animal with sensitivity and respect. I think this should apply to all convicted cat abusers.

I can remember an article by Elisa of a police officer shooting dead a litter of kittens. Elisa complaining bitterly. Nothing appears to have happened. No punishment. Quite a contrast with the Mathew Coffin case. I am not saying that the UK is better than the USA. This is a case-by-case comparison.

I can remember a divorce case in Switzerland. The divorcing couple were splitting up. They had a domestic bust up and they decided to split up their domestic animals. I forget the species but it was a highly social species which had to be kept in pairs or groups. When the police turned up to deal with the domestic violence they charged the divorcing couple under the animal welfare laws! They were convicted and fined for splitting up the animals causing distress to the animals. This is an exceptional example of keen animal welfare enforcement.

The animal welfare law across nearly all industrialized “advanced” countries are similar. The punishments for cat abuse are similar. The big variations are in enforcement. A lot of the law is window dressing. The law gives the impression that the country is concerned about animal welfare. Without proper enforcement and punishment the law is next to useless as cat abusers are rarely punished.

One of the worst countries for animal welfare window dressing and little enforcement is Mexico.

One of the most important reasons why cat abuse often goes unpunished is because it is impossible to prosecute because of a lack of evidence. The criminal standard for a successful prosecution “beyond reasonable doubt” is high. You need good evidence. Cat abusers are able to avoid leaving sufficient evidence to convict. They commit crimes secretly and out of the public gaze.

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Cat Abuse: Does the punishment fit the crime? — 9 Comments

  1. Law enforcement agencies are, generally, divided into units (burglary, fraud, sex offender, murder, etc.) and have special investigators on board.
    There is no unit for animal abuse. I think, if there were, people would get the message that it is taken very seriously. Maybe more perpetrators would be caught and prosecuted.
    As you say, laws are pointless without enforcement.

  2. Well I’m glad that man was punished, the woman should have been too for not stopping him. How was he found out? Probably by posting his ‘funny video’ on YouTube.
    No the punishment doesn’t ever fit the crime because there is no punishment harsh enough for deliberate animal abuse, unfortunately ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life’ doesn’t apply any more which is a great pity because abusers deserve to suffer the same abuse they gave. So, that man hasn’t got a tail but he has something else he could be lifted up and down by! Preferably in a vice.

  3. Horrible people, stupid, clinging, needy woman letting him do that without even attempting to stop him because he’s her man and if she tries to stop him maybe he’ll leave her or maybe he’ll hit her, the ignorant, posturing oaf, big man smirking as he abuses the cat and looking at her for a reaction, trying to impress and maybe even scare needy woman. And who the hell video’d it? There must have been another person in the room. I’m glad he was punished, I’m glad he was fined and banned BUT who polices the ban? Who is going to watch him for 10 years? He could move away to somewhere different, he could change his name, who would know he was banned and in the end who would care? Animals abusers should be tattooed right across their foreheads “I AM AN ANIMAL ABUSER” that would stop them and enforce their bans.

    • Great idea – just like sex offenders they should be made public permanently so that everybody is warned of what they did – whether its a tattoo or a stripey shirt – I don’t care – as long as they have to live with what they did.

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