Is a fish the same as a dog or cat when it comes to animal cruelty?

Technically the law says it is

Dave Cohen, WWL First News early edition
April 05, 2019 - 7:35 am

Cops in North Carolina charged a man with animal cruelty and abandonment for leaving a fish in a dirty bowl and not feeding it for weeks after he was evicted.


Should the law treat fish owners the same way it does owners of other pets and animals?

Answer using the comment button at the bottom of the story.

I pulled up the Louisiana revised statutes to see what the law here says.

Cruelty to animals in this state is defined by a number of factors:

  • A.(1)  Any person who intentionally or with criminal negligence commits any of the following shall be guilty of simple cruelty to animals:
  • (a)  Overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, or overworks a living animal.
  • (b)  Torments, cruelly beats, or unjustifiably injures any living animal, whether belonging to himself or another.
  • (c)  Having charge, custody, or possession of any animal, either as owner or otherwise, unjustifiably fails to provide it with proper food, proper drink, proper shelter, or proper veterinary care.

So, it clearly says "a living animal" and "any animal."

Is a fish an animal? 

Britannica defines a fish as, "Any of approximately 34,000 species of vertebrate animals (phylum Chordata) found in the fresh and salt waters of the world." 

By that definition, a fish is indeed an animal.

Technically then, if you fail to "provide it with proper food," then you have committed the crime of cruelty to animals in Louisiana.  If you don't clean the bowl or tank, then you could probably be charged under the letter of the law too.  

Man, what if you flush a fish?  I guess you could also be charged if you send your living goldfish into the pipes.

Here is the AP story that lauched this conversation...

 WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) _ A North Carolina man has been charged with abandoning a pet fish that authorities say he left behind without food when he was evicted.  
 News outlets report that that New Hanover County Sheriff's Office arrested 53-year-old Michael Hinson on Wednesday and charged him with one count of abandonment of an animal and three counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals.  
 Officials say Hinson was evicted from his Wilmington home last month and left behind an Oscar fish in poor health in a dirty tank. Hinson couldn't be reached by telephone and court records don't list an attorney.  
     The 6-inch fish is being nursed back to health at an aquarium store.  

Comments ()