Generally, we don’t think of animals as criminals. They lack criminal intent, there’s very little point to charging them, and they could never pull off a really cool heist – all of which make them ill-suited for the notion of criminality. However, as one Utah resident found out, your pet is more than capable of landing you on the wrong side of the law.
Kate Anderson lived in the town of Murray, Utah, with her cat Milo, and the two of them seemed to be doing just fine.
Milo had always been a well-behaved cat, and Kate couldn’t imagine anyone considering him a menace, or a cause for concern. She was soon to discover that not everyone shared that opinion.
Rest and relaxation
It was just a regular day in June of 2019, and Kate looked out of her window to see Milo sitting out in the yard. He looked like a picture of peace, resting calmly on the warm grass.
This was perfectly normal behavior from Milo, and Kate was happy to see him relaxing contentedly in the sunshine. Little did Kate know, this seemingly innocuous act on Milo’s part was going to cause a lot of trouble for her.
A few days after Milo had been lying out in the sun, Kate got a letter in the post. Opening it, she was shocked to find that Murray council had hit her with two misdemeanor charges.
The first of the charges was that Kate had been letting Milo roam around unattended or attached to a leash – the second was that Milo did not have an animal license attached to him. Kate was absolutely dumbfounded at having been suddenly charged with misdemeanors for something that Milo had done numerous times.
Unable to believe that this was really happening, Kate immediately went to Murray’s town hall to talk to somebody from the council and find out exactly what was going on. She still refused to believe that she was going to be charged with a crime for something as simple as letting her cat lie outside on the lawn.
However, when Kate managed to speak with someone who worked for the council, they confirmed that the misdemeanors were entirely real, and that she was being charged for this.
It turned out that the law under which Kate was being charged with misdemeanors was one that forbade people from letting animals roam free unattended, even on their own property.
In letting Milo lie outside on the lawn without a leash, Kate had violated this prohibition – even though he was only lying outside on the lawn. Kate couldn’t believe what she was hearing, and what’s more was still wondering how the council had discovered Milo’s offense to charge her with it.
Kate discovered that a person in the neighborhood had seen Milo lying on the lawn, taken a photo of him, and reported it to animal control. This truly dumbfounded Kate…
She found it extremely difficult to fathom that anyone could be so petty or mean as to see a cat lying on its own lawn and call animal control in response. She felt let down by the people in her own town, let alone the council willing to chase up such a trivial matter.
Going too far
Kate thought it ridiculous that she had been slapped with charges for Milo’s actions – and that the law would apply to a household pet on their own property. She accepted that if potentially dangerous animals were left roaming around, or pets were constantly making trouble on other people’s property, then that could be a problem.
However, that was plainly not the case for a cat lying on the lawn of its own house. Not only that, but now she was expected to appear in court for such a thing!
Clearing the charges
Luckily for Kate, she discovered that the council had made a motion to dismiss the misdemeanors. They acknowledged that, while Milo had technically been in contravention of the law, the violation was so trivial as to not warrant any legal action.
As such, they would be looking to waive the misdemeanors and clear Kate’s record. Kate was relieved, but still a little perturbed that things had been allowed to go so far in the first place.
Change is needed
Although Kate was glad to have the charges dropped and have Milo no longer regarded as a criminal, she still wanted to see change with regard to the laws. She accepted that the ordinance needs to be somewhat vague to allow the council to deal with a variety of situations…
However, she claimed that an exemption should be introduced for household pets on their own property. The council, however, indicated that no changes would be made to the law any time soon.
Kate had never expected to have a run-in with the law based on the innocent actions of her cat – but it just goes to show that they can end up on the wrong side of the law in ways you’d never expect.
Milo is hardly the first animal to find himself in such a position either. Around the world, there have been more instances than you might think of an animal being arrested, charged with a crime, and even put in prison!
Out for a walk
One day in January of 2013, the guards at a Brazilian prison noticed a cat walking around the grounds. This was nothing particularly out of the ordinary – in fact, the guards had seen that same cat come and go many times, and it was well known around the prison.
However, as they watched it making its way around the grounds, the guards noticed something strange about the cat. They went over to the cat to inspect it, and what they found was a real surprise.
As they got closer to the cat, they noticed that it had something on its fur. Once they reached it and were able to get a proper look, they realized that the cat had tape around its midsection. Understandably, the guards found this to be an extremely strange occurrence.
After all, they didn’t think that a cat was prone to growing a coat of tape at any point in its life cycle, and it certainly would have been hard for it to attach the tape to itself.
Getting to the bottom of things
The guards decided to apprehend the cat and get to the bottom of things. As the cat was well-known to them and they to it, it was an easy matter getting ahold of it – after which they took it to the office to find out what was going on.
The cat seemed perfectly healthy, and was happy enough for the guards to pick it up and carry it away, so it didn’t seem to be hurt – but the guards did notice that it was heavier than would be expected.
Revealing the truth
Once the guards got the cat to the office, they started work on removing the tape. Holding the cat securely so that it would not start writhing around and present a danger to itself, they began to carefully cut away the tape around its midsection.
There was a substantial amount of securely wrapped tape, which all but confirmed the guards’ suspicions that someone had taped contraband to the cat to smuggle it into the prison. Finally removing the last layer of tape, the guards found that they had been right.
The guards discovered that the cat had been laden with a veritable treasure trove of contraband, which someone had clearly meant for it to smuggle into the jail.
The cat had been strapped with a wide variety of objects – including a phone charger, drill bits and files, a memory card, and even a mobile phone. The guards were immensely pleased to have spotted the cat and removed its payload, as these items were a serious contravention of the jail’s rules.
A friendly pet
It had been an ingenious move by the inmates to try and use the cat to smuggle items into the jail, as it had been well-known to the guards for several years. The cat had actually been raised by the inmates, and had been back and forth to the jail several times – usually living with the family of a prisoner.
As such, the cat was unlikely to arouse suspicion from the guards. However, if they wanted it to avoid detection, they should have camouflaged the tape a little better.
Finding the culprit
Despite having managed to catch the cat, it was going to prove much more difficult for the guards to find out who had organized this smuggling attempt. There were, after all, 263 inmates in the jail, all of whom could have had some form of association with the cat – leaving them with no obvious suspects.
In addition, the investigation was seriously hampered by the fact that the accomplice in this operation was unable to tell them who was responsible.
Paws well that end well
Luckily, the cat was soon found to be an unwilling accomplice, and its arrest and detainment were called off. The guards were pleased to see that, although it had been through a pretty wild experience, it was not hurt or traumatized, seeming to be perfectly happy now it had been relieved of its cargo.
The cat was released, and sent to an animal shelter to be taken care of, and to receive any further treatment it might need.
Smuggling contraband into a jail is certainly a pretty extreme criminal activity for a cat to become involved in – but it’s far from the most outlandish thing to land an animal on the bad side of law and order. Far from being unwitting accomplices to crime, some animals actively pursue bad behavior until they actually have to be jailed.
For a few years this was the case in the Punjab region in South Asia, where monkeys were badly behaved enough to warrant opening a prison just for them!
In 2004, a particularly aggressive monkey set itself upon the region of Punjab, specifically the city of Patiala. This monkey had been engaging in some seriously bad behavior – it had stolen food from homes, ripped buttons off people’s clothes, stolen books from people, and even threatened various kids with a brick!
Obviously this sort of thing couldn’t continue, so something had to be done about this monkey, who didn’t seem particularly inclined to improve its behavior.
Menace to society
Eventually the decision was made to sentence the monkey to jail, so that it could no longer harass and threaten people. It was an unfortunate decision, but the monkey had been so continually aggressive that it couldn’t be allowed to roam around anymore.
After the monkey had been apprehended, it was taken to the monkey jail which was located in a section of the Motibagh Bir Zoological Park in Patiala – there to be kept until it showed signs of being less aggressive.
Badly behaved monkeys had been a persistent problem for the region of Punjab, and for certain cities in India as well. As humans expanded their cities and living spaces, they removed large portions of the natural territory of monkeys, forcing a lot of them toward cities in search of food.
In addition, many people that use monkeys as guards or performing animals eventually abandon them – as a result of these factors stray monkeys roam around in many areas, causing trouble for the local populace.
Jail to the chief
Needing a solution to the problem of invasive and disruptive monkeys, the jail was eventually set up as one way of dealing with them. Although it was not ideal, it was one of the only ways that could be thought of to separate perpetually aggressive monkeys from the human populace.
Despite the fact that monkeys do cause considerable disturbance in these areas, it has only been necessary to jail as few as 13 monkeys over a few years.
A second chance
The monkey jail in Patiala had met with considerable controversy, as might have been expected. It was argued that imprisoning these monkeys in cells was cruel and harmful to their quality of life, as it limited their movement and interaction immensely.
Eventually, it was announced in 2009 that the jail would be closed. Instead, it would be replaced by a reform school for the monkeys, where it was hoped that training to help them be less aggressive might prove fruitful.
A circus cat
Another infamous case that involved a seriously confusing animal charge happened in Augusta, Georgia, way back in 1981, when a life-long resident Carl Miles was earning his living rather unconventionally.
He had a beautiful and allegedly talented cat he named Blackie, who could speak human phrases like “I love you” and “I want my momma.” Amazed by his cat’s magical talent, Carl often took to the street corners to show off his talking cat, and he was often invited onto TV and radio too.
Carl and his wife earned a pretty decent wage thanks to Blackie, so much so that once the state got a whiff of the magical cat, they informed the couple that they needed to file a business license to state they were “employing” their cat to earn money.
At first, Carl and his wife agreed, but after seeking legal advice, they were told they had the right to appeal the case – especially seen as Blackie was in no way, shape, or form “an employee”…
Feline free speech
In their court hearings, the couple stated that they believed Blackie’s right to free speech was being entirely taken away from him – poor Blackie. As you can imagine, the witnesses in court were utterly blown away by what they were hearing.
However, there was one person who had a different perspective on the situation – the judge. In fact, luckily, he had seen Blackie’s magical powers for himself just a few months prior to the court date…
Seeing it for himself
In the official court documents, it states that the judge recalled the experiences of his “very special day” when he witnessed Blackie’s talents on a street corner as he made his way to work.
The judge was very impressed with what he heard, so much so that he was more than willing to hand over the requested dollar to the owner – he said, “it was a dollar very much well spent.” So what did this mean for Blackie’s feline fate? Was Carl’s “business” about to be shut down for good?
‘Not a person’
Thankfully, the judge quite clearly had a soft spot for talking cats, and after not much deliberation, he ordered for the entire case to be dropped immediately.
The judge pointed out that this was a case based on clear scientific knowledge and rational knowledge – Blackie was, in fact, “not a person” – therefore, he was not protected by the Bill of Rights. So it turns out that Blackie’s free speech wasn’t protected after all – but then again, who’s going to say no to witnessing the wonder of a talking cat?
Disclaimer: Some photos may be stock images used for illustration purposes only. The people or places in these photos are not to be associated with the article.