No Laws Against Cat Tail Docking

No Laws Against Cat Tail Docking

by Michael

This is an interesting story, very interesting as it seems to show up the messy state of animal protection laws in the United States. It concerns the criminal prosecution of a women in Wilkes-Barre PA:

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She had pierced three kittens and docked the tails of two creating what she thought were “gothic kittens” to sell on Ebay. The mentality of the women in relation to cats matches the law in relation to cat ownership: cats are possessions, chattels, to do as we please with.

However, she is being prosecuted for animal cruelty under the state’s animal cruelty laws. As far as I am aware the law is as stated:

The relevant legislation is § 5511. Cruelty to animals. If a person willfully and/or maliciously kills, maims, mutilates, tortures or disfigures a cat (or dog) or administers a poison to or exposes a poison with intent to a cat (or dog), notwithstanding that the cat (or dog)may or may not belong to the person, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree. On conviction the punishment is a fine of $1000 and/or imprisonment of not more than 2 years.

The defence team says that there are No Laws Against Cat Tail Docking. Personally, I must be missing something because tail docking is mutilation and mutilation is referred to in the statute as a crime (see above).

The court decided to proceed with the prosecution despite the argument by the defence that nothing criminal had taken place (I presume that piercing a cat with a ring is not criminal which is very odd as it is disfiguring also a crime).

It all seems chaotic to me. The law is clear but the defence seem to have argued that tail docking is not maiming or mutilation perhaps because it is done on dogs (although in some countries tail docking of dogs is illegal).

A dictionary definition of mutilation is:

To deprive of a limb or an essential par & To make imperfect by excising or altering parts (src: the Free Dictionary).


I don’t see how you can argue around the fact that tail docking and cat piercing is animal cuelty. Although the lawyers seem to be saying that the law has to be changed to make tail docking illegal. I don’t see that.

I also don’t see how declawing of cats can be outside the ambit of this law either. In another article I say that declawing is deemed legal because the cat has no individual rights and the declawing is carried out by consent of the cat owner.

But the law stated above says that a cat owner can commit animal cruelty on their own cat, which obviously makes sense. As I said it is confusing. I think the answer is this. Declawing has by practice and convention found itself outside the law – it is not illegal but has anyone tested in court?

Has anyone prosecuted a person for delawing their cat anywhere in the USA at anytime? I don’t know but judging by this case it would seem that declawing a cat would and should be deemed a criminal act.

There is no doubt in my mind that there is need in the USA for nationwide legislation that is simple and clear and which makes animal cruelty a crime. Animal cruelty is a fundamental act. It is ideal subject matter for federal legislation.

Associated pages:

The story at UPI

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Animal Cruelty laws in the USA

Declawing: The need for definitive report

Cat Declaw Breaks The Crimimal Law

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No Laws Against Cat Tail Docking

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Feb 04, 2010 More info
by: Maggie Sharp

This story has just hit Australia. I found this article, the cats pictures are on there. It’s so sad… =(

Feb 04, 2010 Animal abuse
by: Bob

Just because someone consents to having themselves pierced does not give them the right to do so to their animals. The animals cannot voice their opinion on the matter, and if they could, I’m sure they would opt out of it! As far as declawing goes, it is an inhumane act carried out by materialistic people who care more about their furniture than their animals. Plain and simple. Don’t want your cats to scratch up your sofa? Try getting out the clippers and trimming their nails. If you’re worried about your $1000 leather sofa, then you should probably think twice about getting a cat. Mutilating an animal to save an inanimate object is immoral.

Feb 03, 2010 Yuck!
by: Maggie Sharp

Hmmm, I don’t think animal cruelty is the correct word to describe this… I don’t think there is a word harsh enough, it’s disgusting. Those poor cats, what is it with people? What goes through their minds when they’re doing stuff like this? A naturally ocurring bobtail or a cat naturally born with out a tail is fine, for example the Manx or Japanese Bobtail, but to dock the tail of a cat is, well, it’s insane! Cats need their tale for balance, and direction control when running and more. The human race is a joke, well the part that does stuff like this is!

Docking tails, piercings, declawing… What next? Why do people think they can do these things to such beautiful animals? It really brakes my heart to hear things like this… =(

Feb 03, 2010 Confusing laws
by: Ruth

That is terrible ! I can’t get over how animals are treated as ‘possessions’ by the law in the USA in some cases but not in others.Maiming or removing any part of any animal is surely abuse.
As far as I know no one has been prosecuted for declawing a cat even when the cat has died through the operation. Sometimes people have come on answers wracked with guilt about having their cat declawed and the job being botched by the corrupt vet who did the operation.The usual story is that they didn’t know what declawing actually meant and the vet didn’t explain.They come on advising other people thinking of having their cats declawed, NOT to do it.
We’ve advised these people to take it further, to complain to the AVMA, to make a case of it,but as far as I know, no one ever has.
No one dare challenge these vets or the AVMA,probably because they are so powerful they’d have the case thrown out.
One day someone brave enough to do this might come along,it only needs one to win a case to open the floodgates doesn’t it Michael ?
I don’t understand how the abuse by a vet of declawing a cat is any different to abuse by the cat’s owner.In fact the owner is an accessory to the crime !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

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