Grand Rapids: Judge Johnston handed down a 16 month to 8 year prison sentence to Michael Patrick Stackhouse who killed a cat in a most brutal manner. I won’t go over the killing but he did it and was quickly found guilty by the jury because the killing was carried out in plain view of a number of spectators.
The sentence is good. It is a longish sentence for killing a cat because countless thousands of cats are killed illegally without the slightest hint of a possibility of the perpetrator being punished.
As one commentator says: “Baby steps”, meaning the sentence might change the way courts deal with animal cruelty cases.
However, a reason why he was sentenced harshly is because Stackhouse has a long criminal record. He is an unpleasant and cruel person who begged the judge to sentence him by ordering him to work in the Kent County Animal Shelter. You’re kidding Mr Stackhouse. You shouldn’t be within a mile of an animal at any time.
The judge accepted that if cats and pets where recognised by the law as sentient beings and not inanimate objects he would have been able to increase the sentence.
“Luna is treated under the law as if she were a table lamp or some other piece of personal property,” said Johnston
The judge suggested it was perhaps time to amend the law. Not only should the law accept companion animals as sentient, feeling beings but also recognise that there is an emotional connection between animal and human. Both suffer if an animal is abused or killed.
This should be included as a factor in sentencing and compensation should be ordered so that the criminal has to pay compensation to the human victim – the cat’s caretaker.
One day in a more civilised world it might well be like that. Judge Johnston advanced the rights of the domestic cat a miniscule amount but he did the right thing.