According to a judge in Miami, Florida, USA, if a person cruelly abuses a raccoon, that person is committing a lesser crime than if he is abusing a cat and should be punished to a lesser extent.
I’m not sure that the judge is correct in her assessment. In fact, I cannot see a reason why abusing a raccoon is different to abusing a cat except for one thing. If the cat is ‘owned’ as opposed to feral then the owner will suffer emotional distress if they are aware of what happened. However, this does not apply in this case.
The 19-year-old man whose name is Roberto Hernandez was accused in court through his prosecutor of setting fire to a cat in a cage and then feeding the carcass to is dogs. Yes, it sounds horribly disgusting and hard to bear but I have to report it in order to explain this article.
His defence was that the animal was a rabid raccoon. The Miami-Dade circuit judge watched a video (yes it was videoed) and decided that Hernandez was telling the truth.
She decided as well that he did not deserve jail time but stressed that the raccoon should not be treated in that manner. I’m not sure why she bothered to say that because it’s obvious.
Hernandez was originally charged with a felony (for those outside America this is a more serious crime than a misdemeanour). The judge issued a “withhold of adjudication” instead of a conviction in order that he will not be considered a felon. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and five years probation.
I return to the statement in the title. On the basis that both raccoons and cats suffer the same degree of pain, distress and fear when abused in the manner described, and on the basis that animal welfare protection laws protect wild animals and domestic animals to the same extent (they should, baring animals labelled ‘pests’ or invasive species), why did the judge hand down a lesser punishment to this man?
Update: I am told that raccoons are ‘nuisance animals’ in Florida which means they can be killed but that does not mean they can be killed inhumanely and therefore this act is still animal cruelty as far as I am concerned. Drowning is considered a sub-optimal way of ‘euthanising’ animals in a previous raccoon killing case. There is no way on earth that setting fire to a raccoon can be considered euthanasia or anything other than downright cruel and a crime. That’s my thinking on the subject.
I think that it sends the wrong signal to people who have a desire to abuse animals. You cannot treat wild animals as having less value than domesticated animals. And the fact that he said he thought the raccoon was rabid is irrelevant. There was no evidence of this and therefore she cannot take it as a fact. I’m surprised also by the way that the parties to this matter were unable to tell whether the animal was a raccoon or a cat.
What do you think? Remember these are my personal views. I expect people to have different opinions.
P.S. It looks like he got the idea from ISIS. Remember the caged men burnt to death?
Source: CBS47 Fox30