No Laws Against Cat Tail Docking
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:
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.