22 October 2010

UK court fines woman responsible for tossing cat into garbage bin

Animal lovers worldwide gasped in horror last August when a woman from Coventry in the UK was filmed stroking a friendly cat and then picking her up by the scruff of the neck and callously dropping her into a garbage bin. The footage, which clearly showed the woman calmly closing the lid and walking off, sparked outrage all over the Internet and Mary Bale, who was later identified as the culprit, became an international hate figure.

Last week at Coventry Magistrates' Court, 45-year-old Ms. Bale pleaded guilty to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and was given a £250 (approx. $400) fine and ordered to pay just over £1,100 (approx. $1,700) in costs. She was also prohibited from keeping or owning a pet for the next five years.

“The media interest in this case has resulted in you being vilified in some quarters and I have taken that into account,” Judge Caroline Golbourn said before imposing the fine.

Four-year-old tabby Lola, spent 15 distressing hours inside the bin before her owners heard her cries and were able to rescue her. They were shocked to discover how Lola had ended up in the bin after playing back footage filmed by a security camera they had installed at the front of their home.

UK law states that people charged under the Animal Welfare Act face a maximum penalty of six months in prison or a £20,000 (approx. $31,000) fine.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), who brought the prosecution against Ms Bale, said that Lola was extremely lucky not to have been physically injured during the incident. They said they hoped the punishment would act as a deterrent to others.

After the hearing, Ms. Bale's lawyer said in a statement that his client had been under "tremendous strain" due to her father's critical illness and that she had since been diagnosed with depression and been forced to resign from her job at a bank. He added that she wanted to apologize for her actions and bitterly regretted what she had done.

Rolanda Ware | @evolvecampaigns
Rolanda is one of the directors of EVOLVE! Campaigns, a UK based campaigning organization which focuses on vegan education. Follow Rolanda on EVOLVE! Campaigns and Facebook.

Photo credit: video screen capture