In Syracuse, New York, Rascell Williams is looking at a curious charge for a horrible crime. Williams, 28, is charged with hanging his girlfriend’s four-month-old kitten with a belt and making a video of the animal struggling. It was discovered by the girlfriend, Joanne Cichy, the day after Halloween and turned over the police.
Cichy says that she found the images on her digital camera showing the kitten struggling before going motionless. The video shows Williams stepping in and out of the video. The kitten was later found under the porch alive later.
Williams can obviously be sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress. It is the criminal charge that is interesting. It is unjustifiable animal cruelty. “Unjustifiable” animal cruelty seems to suggest that there is justifiable animal cruelty. Yet, it is a charge raised in other cases, here and here. The New York code does have one provision referring to unjustifiable injury to animals:
353. Overdriving, torturing and injuring animals; failure to provide proper sustenance
A person who overdrives, overloads, tortures or cruelly beats or unjustifiably injures, maims, mutilates or kills any animal, whether wild or tame, and whether belonging to himself or to another, or deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, food or drink, or neglects or refuses to furnish it such sustenance or drink, or causes, procures or permits any animal to be overdriven, overloaded, tortured, cruelly beaten, or unjustifiably injured, maimed, mutilated or killed, or to be deprived of necessary food or drink, or who wilfully sets on foot, instigates, engages in, or in any way furthers any act of cruelty to any animal, or any act tending to produce such cruelty, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by both.
Nothing herein contained shall be construed to prohibit or interfere with any properly conducted scientific tests, experiments or investigations, involving the use of living animals, performed or conducted in laboratories or institutions, which are approved for these purposes by the state commissioner of health. The state commissioner of health shall prescribe the rules under which such approvals shall be granted, including therein standards regarding the care and treatment of any such animals. Such rules shall be published and copies thereof conspicuously posted in each such laboratory or institution. The state commissioner of health or his duly authorized representative shall have the power to inspect such laboratories or institutions to insure compliance with such rules and standards. Each such approval may be revoked at any time for failure to comply with such rules and in any case the approval shall be limited to a period not exceeding one year.
Either way, of course, he fits this definition from any number of ways. The cat proved to have more lives but he is likely to be less fortunate.
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