Animal Law

Piercing Kittens for ‘Goth’ Look Is Animal Cruelty, Pa. Appeals Court Says

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A Pennsylvania appeals court has upheld an animal cruelty conviction for a woman who pierced kittens to give them a “goth” look.

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld the conviction of Holly Crawford of Sweet Valley, Pa. She was prosecuted based on a tip from an investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who responded to an ad seeking $100 for each kitten, the New York Times reports. Crawford, who had several piercings herself, had admitted piercing the animals without anesthetic, though she did use antiseptic afterwards to prevent infection. She was sentenced to six months of home detention.

According to the opinion, “Metal protruded from the kittens’ small bodies, pierced through their ears and necks, and at least one of these kittens also had an elastic band tied around its tail, an attempt at docking, which is a procedure to stem the blood flow so that the tail eventually falls off.”

Crawford’s lawyers had argued the animal cruelty statutes were unconstitutionally vague. “Appellant’s claims center on her premise that a person of normal intelligence would not know whether piercing a kitten’s ears or banding its tail is maiming, mutilating, torturing, or disfiguring an animal,” the court wrote. “We disagree. … Much of the law against animal cruelty can be summed up in the phrase ‘common sense’ and such is the case herein.”

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