People who dress their pets up in cute clothes are often accused of inflicting mild animal cruelty on their pets. But a Pennsylvania woman has gone much, much further, adorning kittens with ear and neck piercings to turn them into marketable "gothic" felines. The woman, Holly Crawford, a 36-year-old dog groomer, has been convicted of animal cruelty, a decision that was upheld by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania earlier this week. Here, a brief guide:
What exactly did Crawford do to her cats?
She pierced the ears of three kittens, docked the tail of another, and tied a rubber band around the tail of a fifth kitten, apparently attempting to stem the blood flow so that the tail would eventually drop off. Pictures show a six-week-old kitten with its tiny ears pierced, and weighed down by heavy, 14-gauge barbell earrings. That kitten also had a ring piercing on its neck, and another barbell through the end of its cropped tail.
Why did Crawford do this?
She was attempting to sell the "gothic" kittens on eBay for $100 each. Crawford herself had "several facial piercings" and "was enthusiastic about piercing," according to the judge's opinion. In court, Crawford argued that the cat piercings were no different than accepted procedures like declawing cats or debarking dogs, and that the animal cruelty statutes were unclear on the matter of piercings.
How did the cats react?
According to the court ruling, Crawford said the kittens cried when she pierced them — no surprise, especially given the 14-gauge needle, usually reserved thick-skinned cattle. Crawford also said one of the cats had ripped a piercing out.
How was Crawford caught?
In 2008, an undercover investigator with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals reported Crawford to authorities, after gaining entry to her home by posing as a potential goth kitten buyer.
What action have officials taken?
The kittens have been taken from Crawford, and a jury found her guilty of animal cruelty. She was sentenced to six months of house arrest and probation. Crawford appealed, and this week, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the original decision. In the decision, Judge Kate Ford Elliott wrote that Crawford's claims "center on her premise that a person of normal intelligence would not know whether piercing a kitten's ears or banding its tail is maiming, mutilating, torturing or disfiguring an animal... We disagree."
And what about those poor cats?
Fear not, the kittens, who are nearly 3-years-old at this point, were all adopted.