His name was Nelson. A half Burmese, half Siamese white cat. He will be at the center of a trial to be held on Tuesday at Arras Criminal Court in Pas-de-Calais. The animal was shot down in March with a shot on a Sunday afternoon. A 71-year-old suspect, a neighbor of the owners of the cat, will have to explain his gesture, which he recognized in front of the gendarmes.
With the new law on mistreatment of farm animals, the penalties have been increased. Since December 2021, Article 521-1 of the Criminal Code provides for five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros “when the facts have led to the death of the animal”. This is one of the first trials opened under the auspices of this legislation.
“I heard the angry neighbor, saw a gunshot”
The business takes place in a small village with 400 inhabitants, near Arras. A couple in their fifties founded their home there 32 years ago. “When our last child left, we wanted to buy a cat to keep us company,” the man says 20 minutes. Nothing more banal.
But the little ball of fur turns out to be oversized affection. “We bought him as a baby. We had a very strong relationship with this very cute cat who acted like a dog,” continues the owner, who had fenced off his yard to prevent him from running away.
“He didn’t jump, but he dug,” he explains. Until the day Nelson managed to get to the other side of the fence. “I heard the angry neighbor, then a shot. I understood what had happened. The animal is found lying in the grass, dead. He was four years old.
Indiscriminate violence against pets
A complaint is made to the gendarmerie, which does not take long to arrest the neighbor who is suspected of having shot. A first trial is scheduled for May, but it has been postponed. For the couple, devastated by the loss of this comrade, “this trial must serve as a lesson to deter anyone from doing so much harm for nothing”.
“This case is symptomatic of the blind violence of some people against pets, which are living beings endowed with sensitivity, which are an integral part of a family. The gentlemen of Nelson are in great pain,” insists the lawyer of the victims, me Isabelle Terrin.
“Stop minimizing the facts”
This activist for the cause of animals in her association “Dyrenes Forsvar og Värdighed” sees this trial as the beginning of a new legal era. “Citizens’ sensitivity to animal suffering has awakened. The will of the people wants us to do justice to the animals,” she notes. And to emphasize that in 2021 “two prison sentences were handed down for convicted repeat offenders” and “two similar cases that was invoked in Niort and Poitiers, had cost more than 10,000 euros for each perpetrator”.
In this case, she is demanding 2,500 euros for emotional damage and that the defendant be removed from custody of his animals. “I know this person is not going to jail, but they need to understand the harm they have done and stop minimizing the facts.”