This blog is not intended to debate whether cats or dogs make better pets; it is meant to address an issue that has come up recently in my area and it got me thinking about animal cruelty laws.
Through out the years as a police officer I have dealt with a few animal cruelty situations where a family pet was deliberately abused or neglected, but in the last couple of years there has been an increase in abandoned animals due to the massive foreclosures here in Arizona. Rather than take their pets to the pound or the Humane Society, many people leave their pets behind without food or water and they starve to death.
Recently, two animal cruelty cases have come to light in the local media and they both involved small furry animals and snakes. When I say snakes I mean a boa constrictor and a python. (Python type unknown) Anyway about two years ago a man from Peoria, AZ was charged and convicted of animal cruelty for feeding a live puppy to his boa. Just this week a man from Phoenix was arrested for trying to feed a live kitten to his python, but the python would not eat the kitten, so the man literally punted the kitten across his front yard, killing it. I am not quite sure why the man with the puppy was charged and convicted, but it is obvious why the second man was charged. But my question regarding the second is this; was he charged for just punting the kitten or was he charged for punting it and trying to feed it to his python?
Now I understand most people consider a dog or cat to be a family pet and are horrified at the idea of feeding them to snakes, I get that, but how is that any different than feeding a mouse, rat or rabbit to a snake? Many people keep these animals as pets, especially rabbits, yet they are sold as feeder animals for snakes. What is wrong with using puppies and kittens as feeder animals? When these types of snakes are in the wild, they will eat any warm blooded creature they can wrap their coils around. I am not a fan of snakes, in fact I fear and hate them, but I understand they have to be fed just like any other pet, so who decides what type of animal is appropriate to feed them?
Our municipal court has a prosecutor who is an animal rights crusader and that is fine, but she told the police department what qualifies as animal cruelty. She covered the obvious scenarios, but she also stated shooting an animal is cruel unless it was in self defense. Apparently she is not aware of the number of ranchers and farmers in the area that shoot sick or injured pets and livestock and they shoot predatory animals such as coyotes or mountain lions in order to protect their livestock. When I told her my department has a policy that allows us to shoot an animal that has been injured and is obviously suffering, I thought she was going to faint. She was under the naïve impression that the Humane Society does not take an average of four hours to respond to an injured animal call and she thought it was regular practice for officers to put an injured, scared and biting dog into the back our squad cars in order to rush them to a vets office. When I asked her about the puppies and kittens and feeder animal scenario she was shocked to learn that snakes were fed live rabbits, rats and mice.