A woman, Dilys Hadley, living on a very small monthly income, delayed taking her 16-year-old cat, Janet, to the vet for treatment for a bulging eye – an obvious illness requiring treatment.
There was a tumour under the eye forcing it out. She was successfully prosecuted under section nine of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and promptly became a criminal. Below is the wording of the beginning of section 9. You can see it is worded widely and so it is easy to be in breach of it…..
A person commits an offence if he does not take such steps as are reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which he is responsible are met to the extent required by good practice….
The RSCPA prosecuted her. What the RSPCA did not do, and what they should have done, was to warn her before prosecuting her to allow her time to take remedial steps.
Dilys was about to take her cat to the vet, anyway. To prosecute her was unnecessary. She had delayed for too long because of money concerns. That is no excuse because people who have cats should factor in the cost. However, Dilys was of good character and long-term cat caretaker.
Also Janet, her cat, was not in pain, we are told. Dilys appealed the conviction for what was essentially a mild form of animal abuse. She lost the appeal but the judge criticised the RSPCA for being too eager to prosecute.
Apparently the RSPCA had given an undertaking to the British Parliament that they would not prosecute until they had given a warning and the warning had been ignored.
So, we have an interesting cat case in which we can see that it is possible to be prosecuted in the criminal courts for failing to take your cat to the vet for treatment when it is obvious that treatment is required. I presume someone – a neighbour perhaps – had reported the matter to the RSPCA. Beware cat owners. You could end up with a criminal record, a fine and even imprisonment for something that you might consider rather innocuous.
Also the case highlights the overzealous behavior of the RSCPA to get people into court so that they can create publicity which they believe acts as a deterrent to animal owners who might otherwise tend to act irresponsibly or neglegently with respect to their animals.
Final note: Janet had an inoperable tumour and was put to sleep. I expect her age was a factor – and the expense of the operation.