This animal shelter values companion animals at $300 plus a replacement

When the Davidson County Animal Shelter got their paperwork mixed up they mistakenly killed the wrong dog (Blaze). It could have been a cat. The owner complained and they offered $300 plus a replacement dog. The owner, Joey Varker, is insulted. I’d feel the same way.

Blaze photo: Joey Varker. Shelter photo: Google street view.
Blaze photo: Joey Varker. Shelter photo: Google street view.

You simply can’t compensate the guardian of a loved animal like that. What’s particularly galling is that Blaze really shouldn’t have been there in the first place (as far as I am concerned). He had nipped a youngster probably in play and had to be placed in quarantine as a precaution against rabies.

Blaze was a playful puppy. It is the sort of nip in play that could easily happen and does happen all the time with cats.

Does everyone who gets bitten by a cat in the US take their cat to an animal shelter for quarantine? I can’t imagine it.

“Due to the overwhelming number of animals coming in and a limited staff, especially on weekends, this dog was crisscrossed with another dog scheduled to be euthanized that probably looked similar. It was an unfortunate mistake.”

Assistant Davidson County Manager Casey Smith said, according to the Winston-Salem Journal

“We were offered another dog from the shelter which is a insult to my wife me and our 3 children after talking to the city manager we were offered $300 in compensation for our dog which was an even bigger insult how do you put a price on a family member which our dog was!!!!”

Joey Varker, of Lexington, N.C. the dog’s guardian.

The $64,000 question is, “How do you compensate someone under these circumstances?”

It has to be monetary plus a replacement. So what is the number? It would have to be nearer $5,000 or something of that order to quell the emotional pain of losing a beloved companion animal. What do you think?

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Restitution in unlawful cat killing cases

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..’

Mishow ordered to pay restitution for killing cats

He paid promptly!….

Mishow Restitution Payment

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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