I am baffled by the response of some readers of the Standard-Examiner's Opinion pages over the past couple of months regarding the case of Mr. Reese Ransom and the confused and somewhat irrational response by both the newspaper's editorial board and some readers. I have desired to see Ransom punished for killing a feral kitten by throwing it against a brick wall in much the same way that Anthony Spidle was punished for throwing a small mixed-breed dog against a wall two years ago.
I am not! out to get Mr. Ransom.! I certainly do not want to see a man of his age put in jail.! I merely want each act of animal cruelty punished along that same scale as others.! Like any law, this felony-based statute should be upheld and not treated as if it is just "an animal issue" and that these were "just feral cats."
The law states that it is a third-degree felony to intentionally abuse or torture a domestic animal; not just a domesticated animal.! That was added to see that feral cats, animals that are so often abused, are covered under the law. Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak my mind.!
The dog that I referred to earlier, Gabriella, was also stomped upon and she miraculously lived. Anthony Spidle's actions were prompted by his rage against an ex-girlfriend who had met another guy and had moved on. The dog became the target for his rage.
In the Reese Ranson case, the kitten bit Ranson when he picked her up and he became angry, flinging her away in anger against a concrete wall and injuring her significantly enough that she had to be euthanized. The deputy quoted Mr. Ransom as saying, "the kitten bit him so he threw it against a wall.".
In the case of the dog abuse, Spidle called his ex-girlfriend and the yelps and wails Gabriella made as she suffered were recorded on her cell phone's voice mail.
I do not ever want to state or bring up the slightest innuendo that the motive behind these acts were akin, however, I feel the intent to do harm was the same. I do not view Mr. Ransom in the same way I view Mr. Spidle, who is currently serving a period of zero to five years in prison for intentional animal abuse/torture. (He was the first adult charged under the so-called Henry's Law, Utah's long delayed felony-based animal cruelty statute.)
I do feel very strongly, like any other statute, that each case should be individually and thoughtfully decided and I commend Deputy Weir for his recognizing a crime when he saw it and acting on it appropriately. He had the demeanor and strength to stand strong along this besiege of community outrage against his personal discretion to appropriately charge this man in this manner.
What I hope comes out of this case is a growing understanding of feral cats and how a feral colony grows. Years ago we called these cats "strays." In the '90s, I had a tenant who took care of a stray for a while until she became pregnant and the outcome was unpleasant. She asked a cousin of mine to relocate the cat to a good neighborhood, assuring me that she would be taken care of there. The food would be better and someone would likely take her in.
We all know this is a fallacy. It's a fallacy that has spread across all of our communities. Municipalities throughout Utah have differing ordinances that deal with the period of time in which someone feeds or cares for a stray animal.
In South Salt Lake, for example, if a person feeds or cares for one cat or a colony for over 48 hours, he or she becomes responsible for their care and thereby responsible for seeing that the animals don't become a community nuisance. That means that everything from feeding to brushing, spaying and neutering becomes that person's responsibility.
Feral cats are considered living, breathing creatures, exactly like those sweet felines that many of us have in our homes. They just find themselves victims of pet overpopulation and a lack of education among the community.
The TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) idea came about in the '90s and is the brainchild of an organization called Alley Cat Allies, www.alleycat.org.
Davis is executive director of the Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah.