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Legal Definition Of A Pet

File Photo Of Wild Turkey

File Photo Of Wild Turkey

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - There are animal cruelty laws to protect pets in every state. But what’s a pet?

Bryan and Christa Caponi of Gulf Breeze, Alabama, lost their beloved pet in November. Their pet, a turkey they uncreatively named “Tom”, disappeared but was later found after having been prepared for Thanksgiving dinner by a neighbor. And by “prepared”, I don’t mean, given a bib but instead given a place – not at – but on the table.

The neighbors have been charged with burglary, trespass, and animal cruelty.

But here’s the thing. Most animal cruelty laws specifically do not cover farm animals under the definition of which animals are protected from cruel treatment. While federal law has protections for animals used in research, and there are federal laws on how animals that are farmed may be penned, transported, and slaughtered for food, in general animal cruelty laws do not prevent the hunting or trapping of wildlife or prevent animals and fish from being raised for food, lest every carnivore risks running a”foul” of the law.

So if you keep a nontraditional animal as a pet, look up your local ordinances on how it must be kept, let your neighbors know you consider it a member of the family and not meant for dining. And keep the animal on your property to keep him safe because the law may or may not protect him from those who want to gobble gobble him up.

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