This cat news story has two aspects. Firstly, it concerns the violent death of a domestic cat travelling on a train with their owner. The cat escaped from their carrier while the train was at Montparnasse station and went on to the tracks. The railway company, SNCF, is accused of refusing to do what was necessary to recover the cat. The train left the station and the cat was cut in two on the rails. Further details of the incident are reported below which is a translation from the French on the website of the animal rights charity 30 Million Friends Foundation (‘the charity’) which is suing SNCF.
Update: SNCF have been fined for negligence. A Paris court fined SNCF €1,000 for “negligence”, ruling the killing of the pet had been caused “involuntarily”.
“I saw Neko run under the train and then we saw him cut in half. It was so violent,” the cat’s owner, Georgia, said. She was travelling with her 15-year-old daughter, Melaïna
The second aspect of the story is that it has received a lot of attention mainly because the charity is making a stand about this incident and is suing the railway company as mentioned. The argument, as I see it, is that SNCF are in breach of their own guidelines and were engaged in an act of speciesism in treating the cat as a sentient being of lesser value than humans. It is that particular aspect which interests me and the charity. When you treat animals as near equals to humans you achieve a completely different result. You look at things in a different light and from a different perspective.
The charity wants the matter to go to the criminal courts in France in line with their argument that the cat was a living, sentient being owed an equality of rights in this instance. Initially the litigation will be heard at the Paris Police Court. The charity argues that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter and they want it to be transferred to the criminal court which, incidentally, will make it far more high-profile which I believe is what they want anyway because this is an opportunity to hammer home animal rights. To campaign for improved animal rights.
At heart, it’s about that and it’s about the inadequate attitude, the charity would argue, of the SNCF employees who made the decision to allow the train to leave the platform knowing that the cat was on the rails. SNCF say that they had to allow the train to leave the platform as they could not see the cat and they had an obligation to passengers to get them to their destination.
SNCF said that it “regrets this sad incident” but added that “it is strictly forbidden to go down on the tracks, which would endanger the lives of the two travellers or of our agents… the risks of electrocution are real.”
They state on the charity’s website (translation from French by Google Translate adjusted by me) is as follows:
“The SNCF agents deliberately made the decision to send the train off when the owner of the cat Neko had informed them of the presence of the animal on the tracks and of the danger to the cat if they allowed the train to leave, pleads Me X. Bacquet. She asked for help so that she could retrieve her cat, which was doomed to certain death if the train started. The SNCF, through its controllers refused and nothing was tried by the agents to save him. Worse, it is in all conscience that the fatal decision to start the train was made. It is therefore not an accident or an involuntary accident, but a voluntary act. The SNCF was well aware that it was going to run a train over the cat and end its life.”
“Beyond the abominable cruelty of the facts, the animal was legally entitled to be on the train since their caregiver had paid for a ticket. The cats therefore a passenger who was knowingly run over by the SNCF!” – argues Reha Hutin, President of the charity. The facts indicate an act that is punishable by 6 months imprisonment and a fine of €7,500.
“What happened is all the more revolting in that in the guide made available to the staff of the Gare de Paris Montparnasse, paragraph 8.8-1 provides for an emergency procedure in stopping a train when ‘there is a risk of imminent danger, recalls Master Xavier Bacquet. Nothing could therefore justify not taking into account the danger that the departure of the train in its circumstances constituted for the life of a living and sensitive being.”
The incident as told by the charity – translation from French
The charity has filed a complaint against the SNCF after a cat died after being crushed by a TGV on January 2, 2023 at Montparnasse station in Paris. The train had been allowed to leave its platform, even though the railway company had been informed of Neko’s presence on the tracks. The trial will open Monday, June 19 at 1:30 p.m. at the Paris Police Court.
The Neko case in the hands of justice. The cat that had fled was crushed to death by an SNCF train. The mistress and her daughter had implored the agents to intervene to recover the animal after a firm refusal from the company. (2/1/2023)
The SNCF will appear Monday, June 19 at 1:30 p.m. before the Paris Police Court for “involuntary attack on the life or integrity of a domestic animal tamed or held in captivity” (art. R 653 al. 1 of the Penal Code), following a complaint filed by the 30 Million Friends Foundation on January 24, 2023.
At the hearing, Me Xavier Bacquet, lawyer for the 30 Million Friends Foundation, will plead the lack of jurisdiction of the Police Court so that the SNCF be referred to the Criminal Court for having “voluntarily killed a domestic animal, tamed or held in captivity, outside the framework of legal activities” (Art. 522-1 al. 1 of the Penal Code)
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