Animal Cruelty Case: Truly Animal Abuse or an Abuse of Power?Published July 18, 2012
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This stunning set of events happened to Guilderland, New York residents Gerard Sagliocca and his sister, Carmella White. Ms. White adopted the cat named Charmer from a rescue, even though the kitty was born with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (F.I.V.). When Charmer refused to eat, White and Sagliocca took him to Voorheesville practitioner, Dr. Holly Cheever.
But instead of recommending an appetite stimulant or other treatment options to help the cat eat, Dr. Cheever immediately recommended that the cat be euthanized. Since, according to Sagliocca, Charmer was showing no other signs of illness, both he and White refused Cheever’s recommendation and took him back home to their duplex apartment.
After they left her office, Dr. Cheever immediately called the police, who subsequently went to their home, seized the cat and brought him back to the vet. Charmer was then summarily euthanized by Dr. Cheever.
At Dr. Cheever’s insistence, Sagliocca was charged with cruelty to animals. Cheever believes Sagliocca belongs in jail, even though Charmer lived with White, his primary caretaker, and he had little contact with him. Charmer was well fed, had plenty of toys, and most of all White adored him. If found guilty, Sagliocca faces a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, and his name listed for 10 years on New York State’s mandatory Register of animal abusers.
What this writer finds troublesome is that in direct contrast to Dr. Cheever’s conclusion that euthanasia was the only medical intervention and act of kindness Charmer should receive, the North Shore Animal League of America openly invites people to consider adopting FIV positive cats. If F.I.V. positive cats are cared for prudently, fed nutritious food, up-to-date on prescribed vaccinations, kept indoors apart from F.I.V. negative cats, these kitties make excellent pets who can expect long, healthy lives.
But, according to an item on Timesunion.com, Dr. Cheever claims Charmer was terminally ill, had developed liver cancer, and was suffering dreadfully. But White and Sagliocca claimed the cat did not appear ill; it was only their concern about his refusal to eat that prompted them to seek prompt veterinary assistance, not to receive a death sentence.
So is this truly a case of cruelty to animals? The legal definition of animal cruelty as delineated by The Free Dictionary by Farlex is “the crime of inflicting physical pain, suffering or death on an animal, usually a tame one, beyond necessity for normal discipline. It can include neglect that is so monstrous (withholding food and water) that the animal has suffered, died or been put in imminent danger of death.” Was Charmer neglected or made to suffer?
In this writer’s opinion, Charmer’s guardians were deprived of other legitimate treatment options such as a second opinion, hospice support or palliative care. Intentional animal abuse is a serious crime, but are we to permit animal rights zealots (whose personal agendas and beliefs are not consistent with the legal definition of cruelty to animals) to make decisions that prevent caring animal guardians from making well-informed end of life choices concerning their pets?
What do you think? Share your opinions in a comment.