Are Police Officers Sufficiently Animal Orientated?

Is the personality of the typical policeman suitable for dealing with animal cruelty cases? How seriously are cases concerning crimes against animals taken by the police? In the UK, the RSPCA investigate and bring prosecutions, in animal welfare cases, which resulted in 2441 convictions on 2012. The employees of the RSCPA are very much animal orientated people. They have been hired for that reason. Although, perhaps, the organisation has become too political.

Nice Cat
Nice Cat. Photo by cwwycoff1
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

As I understand it, in the USA and all other countries, the standard police force investigate, arrest and charge people who are suspected of having committed criminal acts against an animal. To me that seems less good than the UK system. I really don’t have an axe to grind here. I am taking a totally neutral stance on this.

What made me question the temperament of the typical police offer is a case in the USA of a Texas policeman who shot a cat with a crossbow, while off duty. The cat suffered a punctured lung and a broken leg but is recovering. I will presume that he shot the cat for sport and that he dislikes cats. That is the usual reason. I realise that one bad officer does not mean that they are all cat-haters or whatever but it does make one think. In addition, I have another story on PoC about a Sheriff whose pastime appears to have been shooting cats.

Elisa Black-Taylor, writing for the Examiner when reporting the above story says:

“..Pet owners are fed up with police injuring and killing their four-legged family members.”

Is that a fair comment? Is there a weakness in the way policemen deal with animals, in general, in the course of carrying out their duties?

Each state has its own animal welfare laws. In Texas crimes against animals is two-tier based. The more serious offences are a felony, while lesser offences are called misdemeanors. Shooting a cat with a crossbow falls under TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. § 42.092 (2008) section (b)(1) it seems (unless the law has changed since I published it on PoC about 4 years ago). It is a felony and it carries a maximum sentence of $10k and/or 2 years imprisonment.

So, this police officer is likely to be prosecuted and tried for this horrible crime. For me that is a good thing, if it happens. I congratulate the police force for treating their own in the same way they would treat anyone else. Although it appears that the police were called out to a disturbance and the animal cruelty matter came to light later.

In the UK the police always protect their own. You rarely see successful prosecutions against police or even sackings and disciplinary action. They often carry on as if nothing happened. The quality of the individual policeman and woman in the UK, with respect to integrity, appears to have deteriorated over the past 50 years.

I happen to think that the average policeman is not that sympathetic towards animals. It takes a tender mentality to be tender towards cats, which is not an ideal characteristic for a policeman. What percentage of policemen do you imagine are going to be sympathetic towards a crime against a cat?

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

30 thoughts on “Are Police Officers Sufficiently Animal Orientated?”

  1. I keep telling people it’s not ok for your dog to escape on occasion because that one time could be the time it gets shot. People here are more upset that police don’t use Tasers or catch poles as a first resort. Even the DOJ has issued a report stating police who shoot dogs as a first defense are improperly trained. Cats are more likely to be shot by the average citizen who doesn’t like the cat pooping in their garden or killing birds on their property. Still a fence neither dog nor cat can climb over would eliminate the problem completely. Unless police shoot their way in through the fence.

  2. Unfortunately, in the USA, their are far too many pet parents who don’t take proper responsibility for their pets and cry foul when the animal is injured/killed…Case in point: A Pitbull is running toward a police officer…is the dog friendly or not? Since the officer doesn’t have a clue to the personality of the dog and has reasonable fear of being harmed by the dog ~ shoots in self-defense…the dog owner cries foul, but was at fault for the dog and officer being in the uncertain situation by not keeping the dog sufficiently contained. Cats, on the other hand, are free roaming and rarely pose any threat (excepting snakes, rats, mice, large bugs, and the occasional bird), but are killed for a multitude of ridiculous and inexcusable reasons. Most real crimes against animals in the USA are committed by people who should be “committed” to mental institutions (President Reagan shut down public access mental institutions and only for-profit institutions now exist), but our laws are lax and only enforced when it’s profitable to the authorities (some laws exist only for the purpose of government profit) or by pressure of public outcry. And far too many people engage in animal guardianship without knowing fully the responsibilities and commitment required for the sake of the animals, resulting in great hardship for the animals and animal shelters. I am a volunteer foster parent for a local cat rescue, saving those I can and crying for those I cannot.

    1. Love your comment. I encapsulates the problem nicely. There is a lot of work to do to improve cat welfare and all the problems are human generated. We are a bit of a failure, aren’t we?

    1. My response would be Yes. Dogs should be free to roam around the garden. Obvious. But when outside the confines of the family home they should be on a lead. If that scenario was always adhered to, religiously, across the country, there would be no dogs shot by police or anyone else.

  3. PleaseGetThingsRight is an interesting character. I’d love to read more of his work. I intend to do an article stating the difference of shoot to main and shoot to kill. If this IS woodsman, he’s gotten a dose of intelligence since we last heard from him.

  4. My feelings are that anyone shooting a companion animal dead has committed a crime beyond criminal damage.

    And by the way I think PleaseGetThingsRight is Woodsman! Just guessing. Are you Woodsman?

  5. According to the AVMA the only humane method for police to kill an animal is a bullet to the head. Many animals die after being shot by police is because the police don’t allow them to seek treatment until after the animal bleeds to death. Police have to finish writing their report before they allow the owner near a dying pet.

        1. PleaseGetThingsRight

          Unfortunately that article is leaving out many of the laws that are used to control hunting-dogs and land-ownership laws in all rural areas of the USA. It is mandatory by law in every state of the USA to shoot any dog on sight that is seen harassing wildlife. A dog is not allowed to hunt out of season and NEVER without being under direct supervision of its owner, hunting season or not.

          This is why feral dog-packs are a rarity in most rural areas. Unfortunately, people moving to the country aren’t aware of this so they refuse to do their civic and moral duty by destroying that dog or cat that is harming other animals.

          People in rural areas who actually care about their animals keep them confined and supervised, or they lose them — permanently . No warning, their animal just fails to return home one day and nobody knows what happened to it. People in rural areas take full responsibility for what happens to their own animals, like any responsible adult would do. You can tell who actually loves their animals in rural areas — their animals are still alive. It’s the law of the land.

          1. I think you’ll find that the harassing animals on property is a form of defense to the crime rather than an obligation as you say. In Texas for example one defense is this:

            1) the animal was discovered on the person’s property in the act of or after injuring or killing the person’s livestock animals or damaging the person’s crops and that the person killed or injured the animal at the time of this discovery; or

            This is very different to what you say.

            No doubt people in the country kill dogs and cats in substantial numbers and get away with it all the time. These are still illegal acts.

    1. PleaseGetThingsRight

      The AVMA are not lawmakers. They only advise. For example: death by hypoxia (lack of oxygen) is the most humane method of all. Replacing the oxygen in air with any other inert and non-toxic gas to put an animal to sleep. The animal dies in a complete state of euphoria, not even aware they are facing death. But the AVMA also doesn’t condone drowning as a humane form of euthanasia. When it is extremely humane. And has been used by farmers and ranchers worldwide for centuries and still use this method. Ask any drowning survivor what the experience was like once they get past the discomfort of holding their breath. None of them fear death after surviving drowning due to the euphoric experience they encountered. This is also the source of the phrase “Rapture of the Deep” for divers that run out of oxygen. The only reason the AVMA doesn’t condone some methods is that if people use these inexpensive humane methods on their own, then that’s $140 out of their own pockets every time. And that’s the only reason.

      1. I agree with what you say about the AVMA. They are next to useless in my opinion. But they should know a bit or two about veterinary surgery. The Wikipdia authors don’t completely agree with you on hypoxia:

        where hypoxia develops gradually, the symptoms include headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, a feeling of euphoria and nausea. In severe hypoxia, or hypoxia of very rapid onset, changes in levels of consciousness, seizures, coma, priapism, and death occur.

        Nausea and seizures do not sound like very euphoric experiences to me.

        1. PleaseGetThingsRight

          How’s that Wiki-Diploma working out for you? Pages authored by drop-outs who are hellbent on proving that their 3rd-grade teachers were wrong when they told them, “you will never amount to anything.” Steadfastly defending their pages against all corrections that prove they are still wrong, and still just as stupid.

          BBC – Horizons – “The Science of Killing”, watch it for the truth that your favorite basement-dwelling Wiki author fails to reveal to you.

  6. PleaseGetThingsRight

    You are missing and misunderstanding a fine distinction. Shoot-to-maim falls under the guidelines that define animal cruelty, and rightly so. In fact, every case that people cite when involving cats, if you pay attention to each and every case there are always veterinarians, vet-bills, or later euthanasia involved in the story. This means it is and was a shoot-to-maim situation. But shoot-to-kill falls under humane methods to destroy an animal. There are NO veterinarians, vet-bills, nor later euthanasia involved in legal shoot-to-kill cases (why would there be?). This is why you cannot find any cases of this sort in any legal records anywhere. It is perfectly legal.

    If this were not the case then no hunting licenses could ever be issued in any country. The same principles, values, and moralities that apply to methods of humanely hunting animals is legal for destroying any animal, including cats. UNLESS an animal is on an endangered or protected species list, is a regulated species (hunting season only, with a license), or is under protection of MBTA (the Migratory Bird Treaty Act). Then the fines can amount to $20,000 or more per case. There are no other laws covering other species of animals, except in the case of proved monetary value of an owned domesticated animal. Then the owner can sue the person if they shot their animal on the animal-owner’s own land. Not true if the owner let the animal wander onto someone else’s land — there it is fair game. In the case of cattle and other livestock, it can even be used for the dinner table if it escapes from a ex-animal-owning neighbor’s containment. It is fully the responsibility of the animal owner to keep their animal contained.

    Hunters who shoot and only maim an animal and do not relentlessly track it down to put it out of the misery that it was caused to suffer, the hapless hunter then in turn suffers stiff penalties if found out. Shoot-to-maim is always wrong and legally prosecutable. But shoot-to-kill is legal on your own lands or those that you’ve been given permission to hunt on (for all but the protected or regulated species listed above). The most that an ex-animal-owner can ever reclaim is the base dollar value of that animal. But few who lose their animals this way pursue this route because the owner is often found guilty of animal-neglect, animal-abandonment, or animal-endangerment (all those laws in place to ensure that people who keep animals do so responsibly and respectfully for welfare of the animal and all their neighbors and lands); and it can end up costing them $thousands in fines more than they could have ever recovered from the death of their animal if found guilty of any of these animal-neglect laws.

    1. Thanks for another excellent contribution. You are going to have to write for PoC 😉 — provided it supports cat welfare!

      You say:

      But shoot-to-kill is legal on your own lands or those that you’ve been given permission to hunt on (for all but the protected or regulated species listed above).

      You do qualify that statement later on in your comment but it would be the crime of criminal damage to shoot and kill someone’s cat. It is as if someone deliberately smashed your car. So it is not legal in the UK. Perhaps in the USA it is legal but it should be illegal.

      Also how can a person guarantee they will shoot and kill humanely? The cat might be injured as the case in point illustrates or die slowly in which case it would be a crime but proof would be impossible to obtain. That makes it no less of a crime.

      Many animal shelters kill cats in a way (carbon dioxide) that is a technically a crime in my opinion because the method causes suffering a lot of suffering albeit for a short time. They get away with it because animal welfare laws are poorly enforced.

      …Not true if the owner let the animal wander onto someone else’s land — there it is fair game

      You’re referring to the USA. In the UK you can’t kill or hurt cats that trespass. We are more civilised 🙂

      Have you answered the question in the title to the article?

      1. PleaseGetThingsRight

        Using a car as property is a good example. If someone’s car lands on your property and they refuse to remove it, then it is the owner’s right to destroy that car or have it hauled away or do anything they want with it. The original owner also facing many hefty fines for their trespass, abandonment, and dumping crimes. You might not want to go down the route of cats being your property. Lawsuits abound.

        1. You might not want to go down the route of cats being your property.

          Legally cats are our property (a chattel) but there is a dimension about cats that you cannot apply to cars and other inanimate objects. In your example you refer to dumping a car on someone’s land. This is clearly not the same as a cat wandering onto someone’s land. The former is a willful act by a person dumping “rubbish”. The latter is an animal that does not understand the meaning of land ownership. As I said you cannot harm a cat wandering onto someone’s land and to kill it is a crime in the UK. The USA’s legal system is built on the UK system but modified and I am told by people like you that you can harm a cat under these circumstances. I doubt that. You probably mean you can get away with it.

          Please show the exact law and authorities that support what you say.

          1. PleaseGetThingsRight

            So, if you leave the parking brake off of your car and it rolls downhill into someone’s home, you are not legally responsible for the damage done? Can you think?

            1. You are Woodsman. And your anger comes out at last. You totally miss the point as usual or choose to ignore it. It is not about me it is about the law in the UK. All I do is explain fact. You? You rant and rave like a nutcase. You’re banned again.

      2. PleaseGetThingsRight

        Using a car as property is a good example. If someone’s car lands on your property and they refuse to remove it, then it is the land-owner’s right to destroy that car or have it hauled away or do anything they want with it. The original owner also facing many hefty fines for their trespass, abandonment, and dumping crimes. You might not want to go down the route of cats being your property. Lawsuits abound.

  7. Covering dogs shot by police appears to be my new dog specialty. Now I’ve learned there have been 5 cases of cats shot by police. Police here have gone gun crazy.

    For those who have missed me at PoC, this is where I’ve been. I’ve reported on 41 dogs shot by police cases now. They’re listed at

    I think there are likely more cat cases and the officer disposes of the evidence.

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