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Whether motivated by a stressful economy, rage at pooping indoors, vengeful feelings toward a spouse, whimsy or ennui, it is not uncommon for people to trash their pets. This author has come to work many a morning to discover a trash bag full of kittens or a dog tied to the doors of the building. It is however more common for people to simply leave their front doors ajar so pets could walk crawl or fly away on their own, or to dump them in parks, beaches, or highway rest stops. spcaLA officers were once called to retrieve two monkeys abandoned in a fast food restaurant jungle gym!
In most states abandoning a pet is in itself against the law, often a misdemeanor, or as a subsection of the state’s animal cruelty statute. In Tennessee – it is the latter. Either way, it is considered a crime. It is not only cruel to take a pet accustomed to living in a home, break his heart and place him in peril from traffic, disease, hunger, street fights and other acts of cruelty by pranksters, but it also contributes to street breeding, pet overpopulation and higher than desired euthanasia rates at animal shelters.
In cases like this one, where the pet was dumped at a shelter, an argument will be made that not only was it not abandonment because the animals were “deposited” at an animal shelter, but that she should be congratulated for taking the time to do so, and that the leaving in a hurry was to avoid filling out forms or paying a relinquishment fee. Therefore, once she is located a prosecution must also focus on the dangerous and reckless way the animals were handled.
Of course, a lot will depend upon whether or not a prosecutor wants to put in the effort to try the case, whether a jury thinks it is worth their while to hear the case and whether a judge will consider a meaningful sentence upon conviction. After all, an imposed fine could cost less than a shelter processing fee and the cost of gas to get there.
Finally, animals reside in that interstitial place where they are legally categorized as property but are also legally mandated to be treated humanely.
As such - some are considered treasures, and others – trash.
Article first published as Woman Tossed Box of Live Kittens From Moving Car on Technorati.