There is a large group of people in America who consistently and confidently proclaim with complete conviction and certainty that it is entirely within their rights and rock solid legal to shot a domestic cat (someone’s ‘property’) with bow and arrow or gun if he is on their property. They are wrong except under exceptional circumstances (i.e. livestock harassed). Here is an example from Australia which backs up this statement.
Before anyone in America tells me that the law is different in Australia, they should pause because they’d be wrong again. The common law is very similar as both are derived from English law and as for statutory law this will be similar too in this instance as it concerns basic rights to one’s property and basic rights regarding animal welfare.
Abc.net.au reports that a South Australian man, Shannon Aubert, 35, shot at his neighbor’s ginger tabby cat, George, with a compound bow four times as soon as George stepped on his land. George survived but suffered terribly and was euthanised by a veterinarian.
In his defence Aubert was unapologetic and remained convinced that he had the right to shot the cat because he judged the cat to be feral and was about to attack his chickens
“He seems quite unapologetic for having shot the cat and even at the trial was quite insistent that it was within his right to shoot the cat without making any inquiries as soon as it stepped on to his land.”
This defence and the defendants attitude is incorrect. He learned that what he did was a crime. It is animal cruelty. Firstly he conveniently assumed the cat was feral. He had no idea the cat was feral. He wanted it to be. You cannot judge a cat to be feral at a distance without checking thoroughly. If the cat was feral he would not have been prosecuted in Australia despite the fact it would still have been animal cruelty.
The magistrate correctly stated that it was a cruel act to try and “euthanise” a cat with a compound bow. Of course it is and the same can be said about guns in my view although guns will kill more quickly.
The bow was confiscated and destroyed. Aubert pleaded to keep it as he used it for recreational purposes. For him shooting at cats is a form of recreation.
His sentence (as usual) was not severe enough. He received a suspended jail term of 6 months. He has to pay court costs and vet fees of $3,037.50 (Australian dollars) and compensation to George’s owner of $846. In my view the sentence should not have been suspended.
But the key aspect of this case is that the outcome is correct. I hope that others, particularly the shooters of America will learn that it is a crime on more than one level to shoot and injure or kill a neighbor’s cat (an owned domestic cat) because he/she walks onto their land. He could also have been prosecuted for criminal damage.
This case has similarities to the well-known Kristen Lindsey shooting. She was punished by her veterinary licensing board but was not prosecuted in the criminal courts which was incorrect. That happened in Texas where it appears this sort of crime is tolerated.
Note: Cats are not considered nuisance animals or pests or invasive species under the law in the US on a state by state basis.
P.S. If anyone wants to argue that I am incorrect, you’ll have to support what you state with chapter and verse reference to the law of the country concerned.