Lindsey DVM was not charged with a crime under Texas animal welfare laws and laws governing criminal damage because of two essential reasons:
- The crime occurred in Texas and;
- The cat’s owners, Mr and Mrs Johnson, “wished no ill will against Dr Lindsey” and “had no desire to pursue charges against Dr Lindsey”.
Of these two reasons the second is the more important. In short the people who could have provided critically important evidence against Lindsey on:
- The fact that Tiger was an ‘owned cat’ and not feral and;
- The fact that they did not consent to Lindsey killing Tiger (this second point sounds bizarre but it is a point which has been raised by Lindsey’s lawyer (more on that later)).
…did not do so.
Without the Johnson’s evidence a criminal prosecution would not have been successful. Therefore there was no point in charging her with a crime under the animal welfare laws of Texas or under laws concerning criminal damage. This was surely a crime under both headings. Cats are considered the same as inanimate objects under the law and if a cat is killed by a person other than under a proper version of euthanasia in the cat’s interests it is the same as a possession being broken and destroyed. That’s criminal damage.
An extract of Texas animal welfare law (Texas’ Animal Anti-Cruelty Law: Texas Penal Code 42.09 and 42.092.) is explicit:
“It is a crime to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly: torture, cruelly kill, or cause serious injury to any dog or cat, including strays and ferals;”
As for the attitude in Texas concerning animals ‘trespassing’ (animals can’t trespass) on another person’s property and the cat being killed by the property’s owner, there does seem to be some vagueness over its legality. In my opinion it is definitely illegal to kill a trespassing cat, feral or otherwise but Texans would dispute that. Feral cats trespassing are fair game they say but I say they are wrong and as for domestic cats, as Tiger was, it is quite clear that it would be a crime but this inherent vagueness and lack of desire to comply with the law means that some trespassing domestic cats are killed illegally and the perpetrator gets away with it.
This attitude is evident in the Johnson’s attitude towards their own cat. They said that they were
“…very aware of the laws of Texas and people’s rights to protect their animals and their property. She understood that if the cat was indeed Tiger, that he was not supposed to be outside his property…”
This implies that Tiger’s owners agreed that Lindsey had the right to shoot Tiger as he as trespassing and was threatening Lindsey’s property (a rented property). It is an attitude problem which weakened the potential criminal case against Lindsey. It enhanced the natural reluctance for Texas prosecutors to pursue the matter.
One last important point: Lindsey asked about Tiger. She enquired of her landlord whether the cat was feral or domestic. The only reason why she asked her landlord is because she knew that to kill Tiger, if he was a domestic cat, would certainly be illegal and a crime. She should have ended up in the criminal courts. Although she did not have actual knowledge that the cat was owned she was unsure and therefore she was reckless in my view in assuming the cat was fair game. This attitude was partly brought about by her landlord (she rented her home) encouraging her to kill Tiger and partly because Lindsey had been trained to kill animals and by her own admission enjoyed it.
Feel free to comment and share your thoughts but I will neither read nor publish the comments of trolls, cat shooters and cat haters. The comments must be reasonable, well argued and not impolite.
Photos are in the public domain. The information for this article comes from court papers filed by Lindsey’s lawyer in her appeal against the board’s final order.