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Court rejects argument that dogs aren’t ‘animals’

Tasha Waller, 36, was convicted of starving her dog to death in 2014, and argued on appeal that the state's animal welfare laws wouldn't apply to dogs.

A Massachusetts appeals court affirmed a lower court’s animal cruelty conviction of a Lynn woman who starved her miniature dachshund to death, the Essex County district attorney’s office announced Friday.

The woman, Tasha Waller, 36, filed an appeal through her attorney which argued that the state’s animal cruelty statute was void because the term "animal" was too vague to be constitutionally applied.

That argument was rejected, with the court noting it had "no trouble concluding that dogs are animals within the meaning of the word 'animal' as used in the animal cruelty statute.”

A secondary argument that the miniature dachshund was not reasonably defined as an “animal” under the statute was also rejected, with the court ruling that all “dogs are animals regardless of breed.”

Waller was charged after bringing the emaciated dog to a vet in 2013, where doctors recommended euthanasia. They estimated the dog had not been fed in four to six weeks and had no body fat.

Waller reportedly told the vet that the animal had “always been thin” and only lost a little weight prior to its death.

Waller was sentenced in 2014 to two-and-a-half years in a house of correction, suspended for five years with 500 hours of community service, according to the district attorney’s office.

She was also ordered not to own any pets or animals and be subject to random searches while on probation.

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