In 2011, Nevada created law which made first offence animal cruelty a felony (a serious crime). This was a radical move in the right direction from the standpoint of animal advocates. The law reflected a change in sentiment towards animal welfare in the state and, wider, in the USA.
Looking back a century ago cruelty to cats and other animals was on occasion considered to be a form of amusement. I am thinking of tying a firecracker to a kitten’s tail for example.
The phrase, ‘kicking the cat’ is well established and means to release frustration. However, its origin is in kicking cats. Cats are still kicked but attitudes have largely moved on.
Nevada animal law 2012 – an example
In 2012, two 16-year-old teenagers were the first to be charged in Nevada with a felony for drowning a couple of 2-day-old kittens in a cup of water using a barbecue tool to hold the newborns down.
The crime was particularly heinous and psychopathic. It conjures up a distressing image of sociopathic behavior highlighted by the laughter of the teenagers as they had fun killing the tiny kittens.
A grey cat had given birth in the backyard of the home of Christine Ohm in Las Vegas. The mother and kittens disappeared. Christine heard the cries of the kittens and the laughter of the boys from her neighbour’s home.
She looked over the dividing fence with the help of a ladder and:
“I saw they had drowned one kitten in a cup of water. They other was in the water and dead, but the boys were still holding it down.”
She took a photo and called the police. At a bail hearing the boys’ lawyer made a statement that harked back to an earlier attitude which was incompatible with Nevada’s new felony crime of animal cruelty:
“(I’m) not justifying the conduct, but this wasn’t violence against other people; it was inappropriate conduct involving the animals.”
The judge did not buy the argument. Animal rights had been advanced in the law. One reason for taking animal cruelty seriously is that it is often a precursor to violence against people.
But the point of this post is that attitudes in the US and worldwide have improved regarding animal abuse over the preceding 100 years. There is more to do. When declawing is banned in the US, either on a state-by-state basis (likely) or federally, it’ll be a landmark in the drive for cat welfare.