Categories: prosecutions

Why Delaware Animal Control officer committed a crime when he abandoned sick kitten in woods

Kitten dumped by Animal Control in woods

On July 30th I suggested that Animal Control Officer Connor working in the state of Delaware, USA, committed a crime when he dumped a weak and ill rescue kitten in local woods rather than take the animal to a rescue centre for evaluation and treatment or possible euthanasia [link to that page – opens a new window].

I referred to the law. On this page I refer to the law in more depth.

Note: The evidence that he abandoned the kitten is good but at this stage this is an allegation until proven in a criminal court.

Outline – simple language

The relevant law is § 1325. I have reproduced the relevant sections of this law in full below. I’ll explain them in straightforward language here.

A person (and this means a wide spectrum of legal entities from an individual to a company) commits a class A misdemeanour if he is the custodian of an animal and abandons it. An exception is not made for Animal Control Officers. The crime is cruelty to animals.

The punishment is a $1000 fine and being barred from owning an animal for 5 years. The crime of abandonment is not a felony.


PETA have asked The Honorable John Carney, Governor of Delaware, to order a criminal investigation into the incident as it violates the Delaware criminal code.

The Delaware law on cat abandonment

§ 1325 Cruelty to animals; class A misdemeanor; class F felony.

(a)(1) “Abandonment” includes completely forsaking or deserting an animal originally under one’s custody without making reasonable arrangements for custody of that animal to be assumed by another person.

(a)(5) “Cruel neglect” includes neglect of an animal, which is under the care and control of the neglector, whereby pain or suffering is caused to the animal or abandonment of any domesticated animal by its owner or custodian. By way of example, cruel neglect shall also include allowing an animal to live in unsanitary conditions, such as keeping an animal where the animal’s own excrement is not removed from the animal’s living area and/or other living conditions which are injurious to the animal’s health.

(8) “Person” includes any individual, partnership, corporation or association living and/or doing business in the State.

(b) A person is guilty of cruelty to animals when the person intentionally or recklessly:

(2) Subjects any animal in the person’s custody to cruel neglect;

(b)(6) Cruelty to animals is a class A misdemeanor..

This Animal Control Officer must be prosecuted in order to uphold the law and to demonstrate that everyone is equal before the law. PETA are correctly pushing for it.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

    • No. I sat in bed when I wrote this and thought about the kitten slowly dying in the woods. It was an unpleasant thought. No one tried to retrieve the kitten. Gotta be a crime.

  • I spoke to several agencies out there and the general excuse is he was doing what he was told to do and that dumping cats in the woods is an acceptable practice. They also tried to run the part of the AC ordinance that allows an AC officer to do what they feel is in the best interest of the animal. Understand that section is for removing animals from abusive situations not putting them into one.

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