Cruelty to Animals Includes Failure To Act
by Elisa Black
A once neglected (not criminally) polydactyl cat that has been saved by a neighbour - photo by something.from.nancy (see link at base)
Most people picture cruelty to animals as physically inflicting injury upon an animal. There are several cases each year that create media attention describing the unforgivable physical abuse directed at a poor helpless animal. This article is NOT about these people.
Celestine Lambert of Sabrina has been handed down a fine of $3000 for failing to adequately provide medical treatment for her cat. The cat had advanced skin cancer and in obvious pain. Lambert made a conscious decision to withhold treatment for her cat and the verdict was handed down on February 25, 2010.
Inspector Selena Neil with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) handled the case. She stated that she had never seen an animal in such a bad condition and was glad to see the punishment handed down to Lambert. The cat was put down after being seized by the RSPCA.
There are countless cases such as this that can be found by searching the internet. The following occurred in New York, USA. I apologize that I've failed to find information on how this case ended. It's a good example that unfortunately affects many aging or sick cats everywhere.
The references I've included on cruelty to animals law are New York, USA laws. Please check for differences in the law for where you live as they may or may not differ.
New York Criminal Court Judge ShawnDya L. Simpson wrote in People vs. Walsh. More on this case can be found at here. I summarized the case into a few brief paragraphs.
This case began in March 2007 when Martin Walsh took the 15 year old cat he'd had since it was a kitten to the local ASPCA to have it put down. He was charged with cruelty to animals three months later due to severe physical problems it was forced to suffer during it's final year. These included dehydration, paw injuries and nasal passage polyps. In other words this wasn't something that could be handled at home without medical intervention. His kitty needed a vet.
Cruelty to animals is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in jail. Section 350 of the law states that torture and cruelty can be defined as every act, omission or neglect that causes pain or death. For more on this law see this.
Statue 353 of the Agriculture and Markets Law states that anyone who causes an animal unjustifiable pain and suffering falls into the criminal cruelty category. Please visit this page for this law in its entirety.
Walsh had never taken the cat to a vet and had allowed the cat to suffer for over a year. It was argued if he couldn't financially or physically care for the cat he could have had it euthanized before its health problems got out of hand.
There are cases that get media attention because of the large number of animals abused by one person. The cases involving a failure to act causing the animal to suffer by individuals who only own a few cats aren't always picked up by the media. We all hear stories of cats being willfully abused by people who hate cats. Negligence in failing to act is still animal abuse and most states have laws against it.
I'm writing this article to educate people on the legal responsibility of pet care. It's not for me to pass judgment on those who break the law. My point is to stress how the law looks at cats (and other pets) who are allowed to remain sick, injured or neglected. There may be readers out there who are unintentionally doing this to their own pets. Euthanizing a beloved pet is heartbreaking. Keeping a suffering animal alive for the sake of the owner is even worse. I'm fortunate all of my pets have told me when to let go and I remained by their side for that last vet visit.
Cats and Law (worldwide) (this is a large page with links but a growing page)