Cruelty to Animals Includes Failure To Act

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)

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.


Associated pages:

Cats and Law (worldwide) (this is a large page with links but a growing page)

No Laws Against Cat Tail Docking

Link to photo

Cruelty to Animals Includes Failure To Act to Cats and the Law

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Cruelty to Animals Includes Failure To Act

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Dec 26, 2010 LIES
by: Anonymous

isnt it funny what you find on the internet? How this story was twisted! This lady, Celestine, is my aunty, and they spelt the town totally wrong, the picture of the cat is not hers and she is a single mother of 4 kids, lives on a farm where her cat was an outdoor cat, who had advanced cancer, and was dying peacefully of old age as well as cancer as a much loved farm cat, who was "dobbed in" by a malicous neighbor. She did not take the cat to the vet because she couldnt afford to, and the cat was happy, although sick!

Apr 04, 2010 Well said anonymous
by: Michael

I personally agree totally with the last comment. Well said anonymous.

by: Anonymous


Feb 27, 2010 Denial
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Besides the excuse about money, I think denial is another frequent explanation for negligence. Just as people can refuse to see a problem with their own health or the health of family members, they can be in denial when it comes to their pets. This of course does not make negligense any more excusable - what has to be done, must be done.

Finn Frode avatar

Feb 27, 2010 Agree Bob
by: Michael

I completely agree with everything Bob says 🙂 It is the only way to relate to domestic cats, to be honest. It is a shocking indictment of this world that a good number of people neglect their cats and some to the point where it is a criminal matter.

Some people just don't connect with their cats. They must see them as "objects" that are not quite able to feel emotion and pain.

I hate the idea of an animal feeling pain and we do nothing about it. I feel that pain. This is connecting with nature and our cat companions.

Michael Avatar

Feb 26, 2010 Agreed...
by: Bob

I believe that when we open our homes to a cat we are responsible for his/her health, well being, and happiness as well. If one of my cats shows discomfort or pain (fortunately this is rare and hasn't happened in a long while), I go nuts and rush them off to the vet to see what's wrong. When Zombie had his urinary tract infection, I watched the vet examine him and actually asked to be shown what he was feeling around for as he examined his bladder. Now, if any of my cats were to show difficulty in that department, I can tell if their bladders are swelled early enough to get them the help they need. My cats are my children, they are my life, and whatever has to be done to make their lives happy, healthy, and care free is exactly what I will do. This is the way I believe cat keepers should be.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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