When a person is convicted of the unlawful killing of someone’s pet cat the owner seeks compensation for their loss; this is ‘restitution’.
A recent live and real case can be used to illustrate how it works. It concerns Pam Dowell, the lady who is moving home to get away from some neighbors, one of whom, Steven Mishow, pleaded guilty in a criminal court to two misdemeanour counts of cruelty to animals. He had shot at Dowell’s two cats. He admitted in a secret recording that he had ‘killed the motherfucker..’
He paid promptly!….
Dowell decided to move to a better neighbourhood and I agree with her decision. When your neighbours are consistently misbehaving and show no sign of letting up or changing their ways the best solution, even though it feels like a ‘defeat’ is to get out, to walk away. Life is too short to do anything else.
Back to restitution. The cats were never found but the judge decided, it seems to me (I’ll happily be corrected), that Mishow killed the cats as Judge Korey Wahwassuck ordered restitution on Dowell’s application.
“The State has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that P.D. [Pam Dowell] is entitled to restitution for the fair market replacement value of two cats.”
Dowell had asked for over $10,000. In her request she stated that ‘the cost of obtaining a new cat, including spaying/neutering, declawing, and other veterinarian bills, is approximately $500-$600’. Dowell had also asked for compensation in respect of other items such as the care costs of the two killed cats, Olivia and Emerald, for the period 2007-2017 amounting to almost $8,000.
The defendant, Mishow, objected to the amount and offered $100. He argued that the amount should be limited to the ‘fair market value of the cats’.
The judge stated in the court order that:
‘…restitution must be limited to losses incurred as a direct result of the crime for which the Defendant has been convicted.’ (i.e. the loss of PD’s two cats). Restitution would pay for replacement cats.
YOU CAN READ THE ENTIRE COURT RESTITUTION ORDER BY CLICKING ON THIS LINK – published with the permission of Pam Dowell.
This begs the interesting question as to why restitution does not cover emotional distress. The true loss by the cats’ owner amounts to more than two cats. There is the long term emotional distress caused as a consequence. This is real and tangible. Some judges do allow compensation to cover such ‘loses’ (loss of contentment) but rarely.
Judge Korey Wahwassuck stuck to the conventional decision and agreed PD’s figure of $500 per cat and granted restitution of $1,000. It felt like a loss to PD but I’d say it was a success. Of course, it is far short of compensating for the true loss.
I am sure that the concept of restitution is standard procedure in most countries. In California, USA, restitution is mandatory for all persons convicted of any crime including cruelty to animals.
In a well-known case of cat cruelty which I reported on some time ago, a drive by shooter of a cat, Kyre West, was ordered to pay $276 in restitution to the cat’s caregiver.
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