Audrey Deen Miller has proffered a unique defense to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon: she shot her husband to protect her cat. The police report that Miller’s husband threatened to shoot one of her cats with a pellet gun. She did him one better and shot him in the abdomen with a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun.
Miller has several cats and dogs . . . and one apparently non-cat loving husband. Assistant Chief Mark Herman expects her account that “[t]he husband was trying to do something to the cat and the wife was just trying to protect her cat.”
It does raise an interesting issue in the treatment of pets. If this were a human, there would be a viable claim of defense of others. Yet, animals are treated in the law as forms of chattel or property and the common law has long held that you cannot kill or maim in defense of property (in both torts and criminal law). Should this change to allow a defense for someone uses potentially lethal force to prevent the killing or maiming of an animal?
When the husband came home (still in a hospital gown), he found that he was locked out. It was not clear if that was the work of his wife or the cats.