The war between dogs and cats has raged on for centuries. But in 1921, the courts decided to take a stand in the age-old conflict.
That year, a defendant named Dormie went on trial with the highest possible stakes: his life. He was an Airedale dog, and he was on trial for killing 14 cats.
The catslaughter was a serious charge, with alleged victims that included Sunbeam, a beloved Persian cat, and many other neighborhood felines. According to the prosecution, Dormie slipped under the hedge fence, seized Sunbeam by the "fat scruff" of her neck, and shook the cat to death. Witnesses identified Dormie clearly — Marjorie Ingals, owner of Sunbeam the cat, was forced to pick out the dog in a canine roundup.
There was some suspicion that Dormie was targeted for trial because his owner, Eaton McMillan, was a wealthy automobile dealer. The dog's aristocratic background may have made him a target: the Chicago Tribune joked that Dormie's trial would "expose the inner secrets of the upper strata of dogdom."
Ultimately, it didn't matter. The trial ended with a hung jury, with 11 jurors voting to acquit, while only 1 wanted the dog to go to the pound gas chamber. Dormie walked free.
Papers had fun with the trial, taking the opportunity to make lots of jokes about the contemporaneous legal troubles of film star Fatty Arbuckle. The law was the result of a San Francisco ordinance that held both dog and master to be liable for any crimes the dog committed. The master could escape with a fine, but the dog would be tried for life. Though laws obviously vary significantly by location, they aren't that different today — if an animal destroys property, including other animals, it's usually easy to charge them and have them killed. It just probably won't go to a jury trial.
Murder in the first pedigree? 😆😆🤣🤣🐾🐶🐱🐈🐕 Happy Pet's, Happy Life!