“Disabled woman who couldn’t afford to take pet to vet is convicted of felony and jailed”

“[14-year-old chow mix] Harley was confiscated from [owner Tammy] Brown in 2011 by a Pasco County, Fla., animal services officer and euthanized. At the time, he had some pus in his eyes and some of his skin was cracked and bleeding. Although Brown couldn’t afford to take the dog to the vet, the state argued at a hearing last year that she could have taken Harley to a local shelter or animal rescue.” [Martha Neil, ABA Journal]

More, follow-up story on sentencing: after 36 days in jail, Brown drew six months house arrest, three years probation, $1,000 in court costs, and an order that she not own a pet of any kind. The prosecutor, pointing to earlier misdemeanor convictions not involving animals, had asked that she be given a year behind bars.


  • At trial, a veterinarian, who admittedly had spent $10,000 on care for her own cat, according to Brown’s lawyer, testified that Harley suffered from multiple problems demonstrating severe long-term neglect, including advanced heartworms, hookworms, anemia and an infection in his ears and eyes for which he should have been treated. Willie Pura, the assistant public defender who represented Brown, says the case reflects an elitist attitude that effectively means those who are poor can’t afford to have pets, the Times reports.

    Well, yeah. If you can’t afford to take care of a pet, you probably shouldn’t have one.

  • @E-Bell: I think it even more important to apply that rule to people having children. But as a society, we’ve decided we don’t want to do that. To many pet owners, their pets are their children for all functional, emotional purposes. They would literally rather die than lose their pets.

    Good luck with trying to get legislation saying only rich people can have pets or children.

    Or is it that you’re stocked up with popcorn and really do want to watch the revolution?

  • This just in:

    Man overfeeds pet goldfish, given 25 to life for murder.

  • Meanwhile, his wife gets a third trimester abortion, and Obama says “God bless you.”

  • Holy crap! That sentence is abhorrent beyond words. Why didn’t the prosecutor as for Old Sparky to be fired up?

  • This sounds like an unremarkable application of laws against animal cruelty and neglect. She had $10,000 to spend on pet care but not $225 to spend on euthanizing the suffering dog? I don’t buy it and neither did a judge and jury and neither should you.

  • Nicholas:

    It appears you are conflating the expert witness (who spent $10K on her own pet’s care) with the defendant (who couldn’t afford veterinary care).

  • John Burgess-

    Good post. As I observe more and more animal “rights” being legislated, I have thought the same- progressives keep making the cost of owning an animal prohibitive. Soon only those of means will be able to legally have a pet.

    Also, I wonder how she will come up with $1,000 on her income. And, if she decides she wants another dog, she will simply take in a stray and be unable to take it to a vet for fear of legal prosecution. Well, unless valuable police time is taken up “monitoring” her.

  • now, the question is: what will the additional fines be when she doesn’t pay the $1000 (assuming its not reduced or eliminated)?

  • “Well, yeah. If you can’t afford to take care of a pet, you probably shouldn’t have one.”

    What do you consider ‘take care of’? Must that include regular visits to a vet? The dog was 14 years old. Average lifespan for that type of dog is 9-12 years. Should you be requied to put an old dog to sleep? Will you be allowed to do it yourself of must you pay a professional killer to do the job for you. (Carefull on that last one. I have read of people arrested for doing just that. i.e. Killing a pet instead of having a vet do it.)

  • To me there are two points to take away from this.

    1:The dog was killed. Is this better care for the dog?

    2: People, acting through government, wish to require other people to do things that cost money. G*d forbid that anyone who thinks that something that should be done would reach into his own pocket.


  • If the dog was suffering significantly, and the evidence on that appears to conflict so I don’t know whether or not that was the case, putting the dog down may well have been “better care for the dog”.

  • Wow, talk about overkill in prosecution, frankly they should have just offered to help her out and take care of the dog (by offering people help when they can’t afford it then people would call for help but how will they want to if they know they will be charged and sent to jail and fined exorbitant amounts of money?) This seems more about persecution then prosecution, they seemed to deem the dog more important than the spirit of the law, there was no malice on her part hence no crime. Poor lady, I am sure she loved that dog otherwise she would have just abandoned it somewhere rather than face being charged with the crime of being poor.