I think the assumed motive is more important to the law than the actual harm to the animal. We regulate people acting on their sadistic impulses more vigorously than we regulate the wellbeing of wild animals.
Minor tangent: I believe it was the book Misfire: The Story of How America’s Small Arms Have Failed Our Military by William H. Hallahan that mentioned the (Pre WWII) army tests of ammunition on live animals. (The tests were to determine whether the the army should switch to a smaller caliber bullet.) The tests were going to be done on unwanted animals from dog pounds, but in view of public relations, were done on goats and pigs.
I don’t think I really wanted to know the details of that; and the thread title didn’t lead me to expect it.
Spoiler it, maybe?
IME, cats in those circumstances are often (though not always) considered to be more like wild beneficials than like domestic animals. If the habitat’s there, they’ll appear, and supply their own replacements; their presence may be desired in general, but there’s little or no concern for any individual.
(Other people with barn cats feed them, cuddle them, mourn them when they die, and even take them to the vet. It varies.)
Possibly in part because people who are sadistic with non-human animals often are so with humans as well.
My barn cats may live out in the barn, and be just-this-side of feral, but I adore them. I worry as much about them when they aren’t around at their usual time as I would if my dogs got out and disappeared. They get the same food, more or less, that my house cats get, they get flea-treated, etc. They are my friends who happen to live in the barn, and they help me out by keeping the rodents at bay. (They came with this property, it’s more theirs than mine!)
@saje: Yes, as I said some people treat/think of their barn cats like that. I suspect laws in some places are thinking of and/or made by people of the other attitude, though; and it’s a pretty common attitude around here although, as I said, not ubiquitous.
Whoops, don’t know where the 2nd half of my post went!
Basically I added that I realize I am probably in the minority because there isn’t much I see as vermin. I like mice and rats and snakes etc, and I won’t willingly kill anything that’s just trying to live its life. Hell, I even hate killing wasps unless I have to. I try to make whatever space is being invaded unattractive to the critters I want out, and suggest they move on.
The cruelty of glue traps makes me physically ill. Leg hold traps are a close second, even though “modern” traps are said to be “humane”.
If something must die, make it as fast, low-fear, and as painless as possible.
And barn cats can certainly have sentimental value. They just don’t have monetary value. Someone who raises sheep, and loses one to a car accident, will consider it fair recompense if they’re paid the monetary value of one sheep. But if someone loses a barn cat to a car accident will either not care in the first place, or will care but won’t consider mere money to be a fair recompense.
This article (Two Fired Police Officers Sentenced for Beating Porcupines to Death) seems relevant:
“This was not dispatching a deer that was hit by a car,” Griffith wrote to her supervisor in a letter obtained by The Portland Press Herald. “This was not dispatching a pest animal that may be a threat to humans or domesticated animals. These porcupines were in their natural habitat and causing no harm. Officer Rolerson not only chased the animal into the woods to kill it, but returned with a smile on his face and appeared as though he enjoyed it.”
Sorry, I spoilered mine, too.
Along similar lines, last year I stumbled on and read this fascinating book about the history of the Lippizaner stallions: The Perfect Horse [Amazon link]
Pertinent to this topic, one detail was that during the war, when the area of Hungary, Poland and Yugoslavia where they were bred and trained was invaded, the Nazis confiscated many of them and started their own breeding program. They tried to turn them into the perfect war horse. As a result, thousands of them were bred and used to death in the war. Learning that history makes what the Vienna School of Riding is doing that much more wonderful and precious.
Bullshit. Why would something that renders people instantly unconscious be painful to a mouse? The mouse must’ve died instantly.