by James Morris
(South Cambridge, UK)
My neighbour has 2 Ginger Cats Housed in a outside pen aprox 8’x 6′. They have had them caged there for 2 1/2 to 3 years, granted fed and watered but have never trespassed out of that Zone in that time. There was a problem in the winter when their food was covered in snow and water frozen. They actually are housed in a small Dog kennel with straw.
My point I ask, is that they released their pets, whether by accident or meant out, of their pen.
One cat entered my garden where I pen my dog for excretion and food zone my dog being an outside dog, golden retriever pedigree, who has run of garden and house with us in day, has never met a cat, he has killed rabbits, birds, rats, mice, even a hedgehog wandering in and even Bumble bee’s, as is his nature, but not cats. Were do I stand by law should he attack and kill neighbour’s cat in his territory?
I feel the people came to our neibourhood 3 years ago, lost first 2 cats and got these 2 who have never been out and will wander, with fast traffic A10 Cambridge road.
They will die anyway, but I do not want to be sued by them for my Dogs Nature.. would appreciate your responses.
Thank you in anticipation.
Hi James… Thanks for visiting and asking.
You ask if your neighbour can ‘sue’ you. That means a civil action for compensation. Cats are treated as chattels in law. A moggie has no real financial value in the eyes of the law so it would not be viable to sue even if the case had merit which it probably would not as the cat(s) are trespassing and you are doing all you reasonably can to keep your dog under control (i.e. in or on your property). One weakness to this argument is that it may be foreseeable by you that the cats would trespass (I use the word ‘tresspass loosely here because technically cats can’t tresspass). However, I see little success in an action for compensation in the civil courts under these circumstances.
There is one other aspect. Would you have committed a crime vicariously through your dog’s behavior?
The relevant act as I understand it would be the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Section 4 is a relevant one:
(1) A person commits an offence if—
(a) an act of his, or a failure of his to act, causes an animal to suffer,
(b) he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have that effect or be likely to do so,
(c) the animal is a protected animal, and
(d) the suffering is unnecessary.
As you are taking reasonable steps to control your dog (I presume that this is the case) it would be hard to say that you failed to act to prevent the cats being attacked. The cat owners are the authors of their cats’ suffering or death.
Accordingly, I would have thought that you are in the clear both from a civil and criminal standpoint.
The position would be very different if your dog trespasses on their property and kills their cats or injures them.