Sunday 27 April 2014

Missouri Mother of Two Goes to Jail Over Family Cat

Missouri Mother of Two Goes to Jail Over Family Cat

I am reliably informed that keeping a domestic cat in America is becoming more and more restrictive in that there are more restrictions on letting your cat go outside without supervision or on a leash.  It seems that the good old days of letting a cat go wandering around the house are gradually coming to an end.  I had no idea that there was a gradual increase in bylaws or local laws placing restrictions upon cat ownership and letting the cat go outside.

The Family. The lady who was made a criminal is top right.
Anyway, this Missouri mother adopted a cat called Thriller and she had a daughter aged 2 (see above).  The daughter inadvertently let their cat outside and he was eventually picked up I suppose by animal control and taken to a shelter.

Mom had to pay a fine to the cat shelter to recover her cat and although she will wasn't aware of it, she had to attend court.  She failed to attend court and as a result she had instantly become a criminal.  A warrant for her arrest was issued and she was arrested and put into police cells for a while until the matter was sorted out.

So we have an ordinary law-abiding woman with a 2-year-old daughter and a nice bicolour cat getting into big trouble over nothing and acquiring criminal record, at least for a while.  Not nice.

The whole ghastly episode started off with an inadvertent and accidental breach of the local leash laws of which I know nothing about but clearly it was illegal where she lived to let a cat go outside unsupervised or unattended.

The simple act of letting a cat go outside, on a common sense basis, has no criminal content about it. It is just a cat outside in the open doing nothing and that by itself cannot be a crime but it has artificially been made a crime.  And once you start going down that route you have to watch procedures and comply with them 100% otherwise you get into trouble like this lady did.

Of course, the philosophical question is there a need for strict regulations regarding cats going outside in America?  That must depend on where you live and I suppose in urban areas it might be justified but I sense that there are better ways to deal with outdoor cats.

Does it have to be the case that all domestic cats must live their entire lives indoors?  If that is the conclusion that American legislators have come to then, as far as I'm concerned, domestication of the cat is a failure in America.

What about putting GPS trackers on all outdoor cats?  What about making it obligatory to build cat enclosures if one lives in a detached house?  Why could not that be a building regulation?  What about regulations making it obligatory to microchip a cat?

It might be better to deal with the problems of cat ownership in different ways so that there are far fewer domestic cat outside in the first place and there are far more excellent cat caretakers in the second place.

Finally, you have to look at the enforcement of local legislation which controls outdoor cats.  How do you enforce this legislation?  It seems to me that you're going to get a lot of problems with enforcement because firstly animal control will have to ascertain whether the cat is a genuine domestic cat or a semi-feral cat.  The complications are endless and the unfortunate circumstances in which this lady found herself is an example of how it can go wrong.

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