Friday 4 April 2014

Are Your Living Conditions Unsuitable for Cat Welfare?

Are your living conditions suitable for your cat? Are your living conditions good enough for you but not good enough for your cat so that you could end up being prosecuted as a criminal in the United Kingdom under the Animal Welfare Act 2006? You might think that this is some sort of joke or spoof article but it is not because it actually happened to an amateur folksinger who lives in Hull, England.

Apparently, in the UK it is possible for a person to decide that their living conditions are suitable for them, although they might be poor living conditions in terms of clutter and lack of cleanliness, but aren't suitable and substandard for their cat if the RSPCA and the police say so.

The story concerns a lady whose name is Ms Nadian. I won't go into the full details but you can read about her story on this page. She was prosecuted for several things concerning her cats, one of which, incidentally, was failing to take a veterinarian's advice in euthanising one of her cats. As it happens, all the prosecutions were dropped due to a lack of sufficient evidence. In reality, it was the gradual dawning upon the prosecution (The Crown Prosecution Service) that this was a misguided prosecution.

Apparently, the RSPCA called the police requesting that they enter the lady's home to take her cats. We are told that the police failed to obtain a warrant to enter her home. The police forced the front door down claiming to exercise powers under section 17 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, a provision which covers emergencies such as capturing fugitives. It was clearly inappropriate in this instance.

On entering her home both the RSPCA and the police state in witness statements that the living conditions for Ms Nadian were suitable in respect of cat welfare. They refer to strong smells clutter and filth. As I understand it, Ms Nadian would readily admit that she has difficulty in keeping her home tidy and clean for various reasons. She has been described as a vulnerable person but I would also describe her as a cat loving person and somebody who has a decent knowledge about the domestic cat.

I find it a little bit disturbing that the police and the authorities generally can decide that her living accommodation is suitable for a person but unsuitable for a cat. This, on my reading of this situation, is what has happened in this instance.

This whole matter has been badly handled, in my opinion. What this lady required was some help to perhaps tidy up her home and that simple matter would have resolved the whole thing. Ms Nadian's new veterinarian has undertaken to monitor her cats while this lady's bungalow has been cleaned and tidied. Problem solved.

Neither this lady nor her cats should not have been put through this highly stressful situation by an overzealous RSPCA and unthinking police. The whole matter was kick-started by a rather nasty veterinarian who disliked the fact that this lady disagreed with her regarding the euthanasia of one of her cats. The veterinarian reported her to the RSPCA for something which the lady was entitled to do, as it happens.

In any case, it would seem that quite possibly hundreds of thousands of people living in the UK who look after a cat or cats are open to a charge of failing to provide a suitable environment for their domestic cats to live in under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Do you find that rather shocking? I do.

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