Let me wade into this cruelty to animals legislation issue. I am, of course, all for it, but I do have some thoughts on the matter.
Animals are considered “chattel” the world over. Chattel is a legal term for possession. Legally, an animal is simply a possession no different than a chair or a table.
As such an owned animal has a legal value. If someone steals or damages any of your “stuff” you have a right to call the police to file a complaint. The police and the courts have a legal responsibility to deal with your complaint whether someone took or damaged your dog, or cat or cow, or lawn mower. It is all chattel.
They do not need an anticruelty law to deal with a legal complaint. They do need proof. Anticruelty legislation will not change any of this. These are legal facts that protect any and all legally owned chattel. Enforcement is the real issue.
What anticruelty legislation does is to protect animals that are not owned by anyone or that are owned and are being abused by their owners.
This is no different than your neighbor abusing your child. You don’t need anticruelty legislation to call the police because someone injured or abused your child, but a doctor needs anticruelty legislation to have a parent arrested for abusing their own child.
In many parts of the world it is illegal for a parent to spank their child because of anticruelty legislation. In short, anticruelty legislation is primarily aimed at the animal’s owner or “parent.”
In the U.S. mainland, a veterinarian is expected to call the police if an owner is suspected of abusing their pet. People routinely call the police on neighbors that they feel are neglecting their pets by leaving them tied to a tree or failing to give proper care for injuries or illness.
In some U.S. towns it is illegal for a veterinarian to declaw a cat, or to crop a dog’s tail because of the perception that it is cruel and inhumane and laws have been passed making these surgeries illegal.
Be sure you know what your goals are before you pass legislation.
Remember: “Ready, aim, fire,” not “ready, fire, aim.”
Ed Tudor, DVM
Sadog Tasi, Saipan