Search
  • Kristina Bergsten

Aging Animals and Animal Cruelty Charges

Yes, you read that correctly: if your animal is old and looks it, you could face animal cruelty charges!


Typically, this usually happens with cats because they roam free without an owner and can get picked up by animal control. I have had more than one client who has an elderly cat (with and without underlying, benign health issues being treated by a veterinarian) whose cats were picked up by animal control and they were charged with animal cruelty or neglect. If your cat looks "dusty", as they say, animal control will claim that you're neglecting the health of your cat and charge you with a crime. Then animal control will impound the cat and ask the prosecution to ask the court have the cat forfeited, which usually means euthanasia. I have seen very loving cat-parents lose their cats through cold and cruel euthanasia in a shelter simply because animal control refused to listen to common sense and reason. And then they come to me. Best advice: call an attorney as soon as your animal is impounded and DO NOT make any statements to animal control! This may help prevent euthanasia.


Even with vet records to prove ongoing treatment, the prosecution and animal control will not drop the charges and you will be forced to either plead guilty (and usually forfeit the animal - which means let the state or city euthanize it) or take it to trial in front of a jury. I always recommend the jury.


If you have an elderly cat with health issues, make sure to let him/her out only during times when you are home, and keep very detailed and regular veterinary records. Make sure you you get copies every time you leave the veterinarian's office! Regular grooming of your kitty will also help, too. Unfortunately, perception is reality, especially for animal control officers who do not listen to reason once they have an animal in their hands. Impounded animals means impound fees, and once money is involved, reason goes out the window!