Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Animal Cruelty Not Taken Seriously In Minnesota

After reading about some cowardly eunuch gluing a cat to a road until it died of exposure, I wondered about the punishment that the person or persons might be facing. Okay, first I thought about how wonderful it would be to glue them to a road in the same manner. But I eventually got around to looking up the Minnesota animal cruelty statutes.

What I found was that Minnesota doesn't take torture of animals very seriously.

343343.21. Overworking or mistreating animals; penalty

Subdivision 1. Torture. No person shall overdrive, overload, torture, cruelly beat, neglect, or unjustifiably injure, maim, mutilate, or kill any animal, or cruelly work any animal when it is unfit for labor, whether it belongs to that person or to another person.

Subd. 2. Nourishment; shelter. No person shall deprive any animal over which the person has charge or control of necessary food, water, or shelter.

Subd. 3. Enclosure. No person shall keep any cow or other animal in any enclosure without providing wholesome exercise and change of air.

Subd. 4. Low feed. No person shall feed any cow on food which produces impure or unwholesome milk.

Subd. 5. Abandonment. No person shall abandon any animal.

Subd. 6. Temporary abandonment. No person shall allow any maimed, sick, infirm, or disabled animal to lie in any street, road, or other public place for more than three hours after receiving notice of the animal's condition.

Subd. 7. Cruelty. No person shall willfully instigate or in any way further any act of cruelty to any animal or animals, or any act tending to produce cruelty to animals.

Subd. 8. Caging. No person shall cage any animal for public display purposes unless the display cage is constructed of solid material on three sides to protect the caged animal from the elements and unless the horizontal dimension of each side of the cage is at least four times the length of the caged animal. The provisions of this subdivision do not apply to the Minnesota state agricultural society, the Minnesota state fair, or to the county agricultural societies, county fairs, to any agricultural display of caged animals by any political subdivision of the state of Minnesota, or to district, regional or national educational livestock or poultry exhibitions. The provisions of this subdivision do not apply to captive wildlife, the exhibition of which is regulated by section 97A.041.

Subd. 9. Penalty. A person who fails to comply with any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor. A person convicted of a second or subsequent violation of subdivision 1 or 7 within five years of a previous violation of subdivision 1 or 7 is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

So basically, if the person(s) responsible for torturing a helpless cat are ever caught, they're going to have a misdemeanor on their record. There's no escalating penalties.

North Dakota goes the short and sweet route:

36-21.1-11 Penalty.

Any person knowingly and willfully violating any rule adopted by the board or violating any provision of this chapter for which a specific penalty is not provided is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
Looking through the statues, the only other penalties I see are things like fees for dispoing of animals, cleanup fees, etc. Everything is a class A misdemeanor (the highest level -- the next step up is a felony). There are no provisions for increasing punishments, however. You can ostensibly just keep racking up misdemeanors.

For comparison, I looked up Georgia's statues. As a Georgia native, I can remember their being a push some years back to stiffen punishments for these sorts of cases. I was right. Here is the relevant Georgia law:

16-12-4 Cruelty to animals.

(b) A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals when he or she causes death or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering to any animal by an act, an omission, or willful neglect. Any person convicted of a violation of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; provided, however, that:

(1) Any person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this subsection shall be punished by imprisonment not to exceed 12 months, a fine not to exceed $5,000.00, or both; and

(2) Any person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this subsection which results in the death of an animal shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than 12 months, a fine not to exceed $10,000.00, or both, which punishment shall not be suspended, probated, or withheld.

(c) A person commits the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals when he or she knowingly and maliciously causes death or physical harm to an animal by rendering a part of such animal's body useless or by seriously disfiguring such animal. A person convicted of the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, a fine not to exceed $15,000.00, or both, provided that any person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this subsection shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, a fine not to exceed the amount provided by Code Section 17-10-8, or both.

(d) Before sentencing a defendant for any conviction under this Code section, the sentencing judge may require psychological evaluation of the offender and shall consider the entire criminal record of the offender.
To put it simply, if you're a first time offender, you get a misdemeanor on your record as long as it was an accident. If your act was intentional, say because you glued a cat to a road, you get a minimum of one year in jail. You also can be held for psychiatric evaluation and the judge can use any past lawbreaking to ratchet up the jail time. Plus up to $15,000 in fines. And if you are a repeat offender, the penalites can get harsher. That's taking animal cruelty seriously.

It's ridiculous that counseling and a slap on the wrist is the best the state of Minnesota can do.


  1. I'm not coming out in favor of gluing cats to roads here, but I've always found the animal cruelty stuff to be a little funny.

    I mean we can hunt deer and ducks and stuff. We can raise pigs and cattle and chickens to be killed and eaten. But if you shoot your cat...that's cruelty.

    Why? Is it because cats are cute and deer and cows aren't?

    Again, I'm against wanton cruelty (as a hunter you go for the quick kill, you don't make the animal suffer). The idea of glueing a cat to a road horrifies me.

    But even so, we do seem to have some double standards.

  2. At least with hunting there's a veneer of responsibility: hunters need licenses, there are limits to the number of animals you can kill, etc.

    I'm not a hunter myself (went deer hunting once, wished I had a book most of the time), but I definitely feel that hunting has its place.

    But hey, we have a double standard when it comes to killing people, too, right? Murder is wrong, unless we're putting a murderer to death.

  3. Yeah, but there's a constitutional muster that must be met before we can kill another human.

    The 5th amendment requires "due process" before anyone is denied "life."

    But if I wanted to go out to a farm and lop the head off a problem. Wouldn't even be considered cruel by all but a tiny minority.

    I know I'm being a pedant, but it's always sort of baffled me. I mean, I don't have any regrets over my chicken dinner. But I'd be pretty horrified to watch someone butcher a dog.

  4. Oh, absolutely. We tend to divide animals into two classes: animals we can see as a pet and animals we can't.

    I don't like cats, but lots of people have them as pets, so what that moron did on a Minnesota road is appalling. I don't care how cute a cow is, all I see is a ribeye.