Girl Charged In Woodpecker-Cat Incident
by Elisa Black-Taylor
Skylar Capo. She was doing the right thing.
An 11 year old girl and her mother, for a while, unjustly faced the full force of US law in a woodpecker-cat incident. I realize this isn't exactly a cat story, but it gives an example on just how finickity the government in my country can be. Actually, the mother was charged, but think how horrible this has been for a young girl who was only trying to do the right thing.
Skylar Capo, who lives in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area is a typical 11 year old girl who one day hopes to be a veterinarian. Now we all know how cats and birds sometimes cross paths and this is what happened in this case. She was in her dad's back yard when she learned the family cat was about to kill a woodpecker, which is on the endangered bird species.
After rescuing the endangered woodpecker, Skylar and her mother Alison stopped at the local Lowes home improvement store on their way home and took the bird inside so the heat didn't kill it. It was here they ran into an employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Apparently, the possession and/or transportation of a baby woodpecker may violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Capo family had no idea they were breaking the law. When they returned home the bird was released and the family thought that was the end of the matter.
Two weeks after the incident the same employee with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed up at their home with a state trooper and issued the fine of $535 and a citation for Alison Capo to appear in U.S. District Court to face charges for unlawfully taking a migratory bird.
Alison refused to take the citation in person and it had to be mailed to her. She was looking at up to a year in jail if convicted.
Now all government officials involved are saying this was all a clerical mistake and all charges have been dropped. That the whole ordeal was one big misunderstanding.
I hope this doesn't deter Skylar from her plans to become a veterinarian when she grows up. At least she has learned young just how crazy the government in the U.S. can be.
I have a few other things I'd like to say to Skylar while she is young. The first is the government isn't always right. In fact, these days, it rarely is. Skylar, you did nothing wrong by saving this bird.
There are now laws that prevent the feeding of stray or feral cats, so check out the laws where you live to be sure you won't be going to jail or fined for that.
There are people who willfully abuse animals and get little or no punishment. Either they are let go or fined a small amount and sent back into the world to abuse more animals. If any of your friends abuse animals, please tell a trusted adult about it as these people grow up to abuse people.
And Skylar, when you grow up and go to veterinary school, please remember the oath you will take as issued by the American Veterinary Medical Association. It reads as follows:
"Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge." See Veterinarian's Oath.
A lot of people in the U.S. continue to declaw their cats. This is wrong and painful and crippling. It's also the total opposite on what the veterinary oath is saying.
It's going take Skylar's generation to stand up to the AVMA and ban this horrible operation.
Hopefully declawing will soon be banned in this country as it is in most civilized parts of the world.
I hope the readers at picturesof-cats.org aren't angry with me because this isn't strictly a cat story. It just angers me when someone tries to do the right thing for ANY animal and the government has to stick their nose into it.