On a lazy Sunday afternoon in July, grandparents, grandkids and other area residents were watching the boats and wildlife on Lake Waukomis in Platte County, Missouri. Suddenly in full view of the public, a man showed up on the dock with a cat in a carrier and proceeded to drown the pet in the lake.
Missouri state law allows for owners to kill their own pets so long as they don’t intend to torture them in the process. Drowning, a violent and prolonged form of killing, doesn’t qualify as torture in the mind of Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd:
“The law says an owner or an agent can kill the animal in any way,” Zahnd said.
The 30-year-old law, which prohibits killing animals in certain ways or intentionally causing injury or suffering to animals, does not apply to the “killing of an animal by the owner.”
“If a person’s intent is to cause suffering or pain to an animal, that’s still a crime,” Zahnd said. “But in this case, the only evidence was that his intent was actually to kill this animal.”
Mr. Zahnd declined to prosecute the case. He acknowledged the public outrage over the killing but you know, there are kids starving in Africa and stuff:
“It would say something even better about our society if my office received the same sort of outcry on behalf of child victims, on behalf of victims of rape and murder and other crimes,” Zahnd said.
Because people don’t care enough about child rape and murder in Mr. Zahnd’s mind, the tortured cat does not deserve justice. And bonus: he doesn’t have to do his job to prosecute a violation of the law.
Thomas Newhouse, who admitted drowning his pet, told police he did so after the cat bit and scratched his fiancee after they returned from church:
Newhouse told police he went to the dock, and not seeing anyone around, he held the cat in the cage under the water, until the thrashing stopped.
The thrashing reportedly took several minutes and was accompanied by people screaming at him to stop and a call to 911. Police cited Mr. Newhouse for animal abuse but with the county prosecutor unwilling to take action, the charge was dropped.
Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd is an elected official. I hope county residents send him packing, never to be heard from in public service again. Get someone sensible and compassionate in there who is willing to do his job. I can only imagine what horrors we will learn about the next time Thomas Newhouse makes the news. And we’ll have Eric Zahnd to personally thank for that.
(Thanks Peter for alerting me to this story.)