It is not uncommon for a man to hurt his partner’s cat at the same time that he is hurting her in a domestic dispute which turns to violence. I read about it all the time.
When this happens I would like to see a new offence being created which would be called “aggravated domestic violence”. Aggravated domestic violence does already exist but it applies to those cases where a person is guilty of a sustained campaign of violence against their partner over a certain time. I would like to see the definition of aggravated domestic violence extended to those cases where a domestic animal is also hurt.
I think it would streamline the law. At the moment, if a man hits his girlfriend and then throws his girlfriend’s cat against a wall he would be charged with animal cruelty on the one hand and domestic violence on the other. These are two entirely separate branches of criminal law. However, the two acts of violence are closely linked. The man is hurting the cat to hurt the woman and therefore it makes sense to combine the crimes in a charge of aggravated domestic violence.
A recent case concerns Syracuse University student who has been arrested this month for acts of domestic violence which took place in August of last year. His name is Dancheng Wang. He kicked his ex-girlfriend several times inside a university apartment. The woman sustained minor injuries. However the woman’s cat sustained major injuries including a fractured skull, fractured pelvis and a fractured femur. He repeatedly through the cat against a wall.
Mr Wang has been charged with aggravated animal cruelty, second degree criminal mischief and second-degree harassment. I would have thought he would have been charged with common assault as well under the current law. However, I think this is a classic case where he could have been charged with aggravated domestic violence.
The punishment for such a crime would be much more severe than for the crime of common domestic violence. I think such a change in the law will also put the domestic cat on an equal footing with humans with respect to this element of human behaviour. It would take the domestic cat out of the legal category of ‘chattel’ (a possession like any other).
I would also like to see, if at all possible, women protecting their cat during domestic disputes. I know it must be extremely difficult to do this. However, there may be instances when it is possible to take precautions by removing the cat from the environment where a dispute might take place. It is a great shame that the totally innocent domestic cat, who is a bystander to human disputes, should be so cruelly hurt.
NOTE: Domestic violence is not the exclusive domain of men. We know that. There are many examples of women abusing male partners.