"Goth Kitties" With Piercings Earn Woman an Animal Cruelty Conviction

By Smriti Rao | February 4, 2010 12:56 pm

goth-kittyYou might decorate your ears, eyebrows, nose, or other body parts with piercings to make an external statement about your personality, but would you do the same to your dog or cat or hamster?

Dog groomer Holly Crawford didn’t think there was anything wrong with piercing her kittens and then marketing them on e-Bay as “Goth Kitties” for hundreds of dollars. She had no qualms about piercing the kittens’ necks, ears, and tails with a 14-gauge needle, typically used to pierce the skin of cattle.

In a not-surprising development, Crawford was charged with animal cruelty after her Pennsylvania premises were raided last month. Crawford’s trial began earlier this week in a Pennsylvania court.

Crawford pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying she used sterile needles and surgical soap while she pierced her kittens. But a veterinarian who testified at the hearings said the kittens had been maimed, had their hearing altered, and could have died due to infections. The piercings at the back of the kittens’ necks and tails would also have hampered their balance and jumping, she said. On Wednesday, the court found Crawford guilty on one charge of animal cruelty.

The Sun reports on Crawford’s utter incomprehension over the furor about the pierced kittens:

Crawford said: “When I did it, it wasn’t with any cruel intentions. They were definitely loved, well-fed, no fleas, clipped nails. And they were happy.”

Daphna Nachminovitch, vice president for PETA, called the piercings “barbaric”.

“There’s no excuse for inflicting such pain on an animal that’s the size of your palm,” she said.

The defense argued that parents take their kids to have their ears pierced, so we shouldn’t make a fuss about pierced kittens; Crawford’s legal team said we shouldn’t have higher standards for cats. But last time we checked, little girls and boys don’t use a tail to balance when they jump off walls and trees. (Of course, the lives of animals in the average factory farm are probably far worse, but in that case, the cruelty is so widespread that it’s accepted by society—and it’s so easy to punish the one woman selling Goth Kitties.)

Crawford also lamented to the press that her dog grooming business, Pawside Parlor, had lost business since the “Goth Kitty” trial.

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Image: The Daily Mail

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Crime & Punishment
  • David

    Is it still legal to crop tails and ears on dogs? In most areas it is.

    What about breeding animals for a certain physical appearance, to the point where they suffer heart problems, seizures, and other chronic, dangerous health problems?

    “Poor kitty has chronic heart disease, but that’s okay! His legs are tiny!”

    Piercing baby’s ears is still okay. Also, 14 gauge needles are also used for piercing people.
    I doubt seriously the cat’s hearing is seriously effective. Tail piercings are kinda weird, but I’m sure it’s easier to adapt to than, say, de-clawing a kitty.

  • lorna

    animals should have NO piercings. she should never be allowed to have animals again. i hope someone piereces the s*** out of her!

    [Moderator’s note: edited the cuss word.]

  • http://justiceanimale.wordpress.com Louche

    David, according to my mom, having your ears pierced with a gauge needle is terribly painful. I would never have let anyone pierce my ears that way; it took enough just for my mom to convince me to go to the modern ear-piercer and get a virtually painless ear piercing. And that was consensual. Okay, babies/children get vaccine shots and cry and cry, but a friggin’ gauge needle is much worse!

    Lawful does not make morally desirable. In some places, it’s legal and widespread practice to mutilate human females’ genitalia – is that okay with you?

    Also, if a veterinarian says something is cruel, it is most likely cruel… most vets eat meat unnecessarily, so I suspect they have a high tolerance for cruelty.

  • http://jicksta.com Jay Phillips

    As a vegan activist with four cartilage piercings, I find this inexcusable. Piercing the fleshy lobes of a baby is completely different from piercing any kind of cartilage. Cartilage piercings are very painful and some take over a full year to heal. I get them with full knowledge of the tradeoff I’m paying and it’s purely my choice. Kittens can’t make choices.

    In response to David, I strongly disagree with virtually all of the things you listed (systematic breeding, docking tails, cropping ears, animal piercings). They are all forms of unnecessary animal cruelty.

    Louche: Piercing a lobe with a hypodermic needle probably would be more painful than a piercing gun but no professional piercers use piercing guns on cartilage piercings because it can cause the cartilage to tear and a gun wouldn’t be flexible enough to do a surface piercing (such as on the kitten’s neck).

    At any rate, the pain inflicted on this kitten is probably tantamount to giving it a solid kick that knocks the crap out of it several times a week for six months. Who would argue that the kitten is able to “adapt” to that therefore it’s okay?

  • ummm

    you might think its cruel and that a matter of opinion but your opinion doesnt make it illegal

  • moi

    @ ummm “you might think its cruel and that a matter of opinion but your opinion doesnt make it illegal” apparently her actions are seen as illegal given she was charged with animal cruelity and is now on trial.

  • Animekatgurlie

    Tell me- you say that using a needle on cartilage hurts incredibly.
    So, tell me:
    What about docking a dog’s ears off? does that hurt any less? is that illegal?
    i think not.
    Tell me- can you crop a dog’s tail? i have had several pets with docked tails. My puppy is currently docked.
    She is the most happy, playful creature i have ever seen.
    Is that illegal? is it?
    i think not.
    Tell me- can you inbreed pets so much that they look as you desire, but have numerable problems?
    Persians can’t breathe through their nose, i’ve read.
    Is that legal?
    you can get prizes for Persians in pet shows. so yes.
    And, while i’m on the subject of pet shows:
    you can dress up small animals, inbreed them, shave them, give them retarded patterns (poodles, anyone?) and tromp them around a stage.
    Thats not illegal- i think the prize is money in some of them.
    So, the tail and neck piercings place them off-balance, eh?
    well- at least they have claws to hold on with.
    Kinda stupid to have a tail and neck, while when you jump in a tree you slide right off, as you have nothing to hold on with.
    Is declawing your poor, poor kitty legal? yep. Plus, when you think about it, piercings can be REMOVED.. there goes balance problem.
    Also, think- you can declaw your cat, right?
    so, what happens when your cat gets lost?
    attacked by another cat, or dog, or, say, raccoon?
    left alone from a family who didn’t want a cat?
    she dies. he dies. a poor kitty dies.
    Animal cruelty for this, eh?
    Is it just because she tried to sell the thing?
    Well, remember the breeders?
    they breed Persians, and sell Persians, and enter them in contests.
    For money, or a trophy.
    that is different….how, exactly?
    posts say that piercing cartilage is super-painful, and you think things like
    ‘Animals should have NO piercings. she should never be allowed to have animals again. I hope someone pierces the sh— out of her!’
    ‘the pain inflicted on this kitten is problebly tantamount to giving it a solid kick that knocks the crap out of it several times a week for six months.’
    Firstly– is it just animals? Babies are taken to get piercings. Teenagers are allowed to get full face.

  • Animekatgurlie

    Also, you may think: ‘Docking tails, declawing, breeding, cutting off ears, piercing, it’s all bad!’
    Well, tell me: if breeders and people who dock ears and tails don’t go to trial, and be guilty…should a woman who pierced a cats ears and docked a cat’s tail? she meant no harm.

    Most importantly, nobody, anywhere, seems to have a problem with neutering.
    Like a guy I saw said for the poor animals:
    “BIG DEAL!!! I would love to get some piercings, but what did I get?? Neutered!!! Oh THAT ain’t cruel enough for yall?? A couple of pin holes in them pets and yall are crying about it??? I lost a whole part of me. I’m only half a male dog now. And when I like myself, well, it just ain’t the same. And I’m embarrassed to dry hump anyones leg….I’m a wreck. I should sue for emotional distress!!” – Baron Thomas

  • AnimeKatGurlie

    By the way:
    I haven’t said any of this is O-K. I feel pity for cats and dogs stuck indoors, cats declawed, and shaved poodles. I hate seeing a Persian who can’t breathe through its nose, and has brain damage or something. When a dog that has a docked tail or ears (I’m not counting ones that need it taken off or it will chew off its tail) I feel pity, and sometimes anger.
    However, if the people responsible for those above aren’t punished….why should this lady be?
    If its because she was selling them, and labeling them ‘goth kittens,’ i find that retarded.
    People breed Persians to sell
    people show off said Persians for money, awards, fame, and such
    and, What is wrong with ‘goth’
    I’m goth, and I’m usually cheerful and easygoing… not counting now…I’m angry.
    so, if its some petty “Oh, she called them ‘goth!’ goths are retarded!” thing, then, that’s even worse.
    And, I’m not calling the people who think that the cats shouldn’t have been pierced names.I’m not calling people who don’t think she should have been guilty, but aren’t too decided about the piercing/tail thing. I’m pointing my finger at people like Lorna up there, who thinks this lady is terrible. I think YOU should be pierced over and over, not this lady.

  • Jamie

    “Also, if a veterinarian says something is cruel, it is most likely cruel… most vets eat meat unnecessarily, so I suspect they have a high tolerance for cruelty.”

    That is a bullsh*t statement. If you want any one to listen to your opinions don’t make ignorant and biased statements. I hate to break it to you but we all need to kill to survive. Even a vegan diet involves death. Habitat is destroyed in creating farm land to grow your food and many animals die during the planting and harvesting of your food. Acting holier than thou because you don’t eat red meat does not make you immune from death.

  • Lou Ruiz

    People are also tattooing their sphinx cats which I believe is wrong. Dog owners shouldn’t be allowed to clip their dogs ears and tails either.

  • sad

    i love kittys. my 12 year old kitty is missing. i’d give anything to have her back. i’m not gonna get mad at the lady piercing kittens. i’m not going to judge the angry people with strong opinions. i actually don’t really have an opinion about the matter. i guess as long as it aint hurting no one n the kitty don’t mind? i don’t know. i’m pierced up, the 15 gauge needle thru me septum didn’t hurt as much as the normal size nostril ring i had before. retarded? i don’t know. all i know is i miss my kitty. i do have an opinion about spaying and neutering though. if the kittens can’t be provided for or aren’t guaranteed good loving homes isn’t fixing more of a preventative thing? come on guys. quit being so angry.

  • catcouture

    she got made an example of.

    Egyptians were piercing their animals LONGGG before this incident. check out some of the mummified cats they find adorned with gold and precious gems.

    everything old is new again.

    going ‘public’ was her downfall. not checking out her purchasers. putting herself out there for the scrutiny of Everyman and Tom, Dick and Harry that needs a cause to get pissy about. people dye cats, tattoo cats; let’s dont start about what is done to dogs as far as body modification. earrings affect the cats ability to land? what about balance and a dog’s tail?? or hearing with docked ears?

    i would never personally do it myself. too dangerous for the kitty IMO.

    guess that makes me ‘pro-choice’ when it comes to animal piercings, eh?

  • jakeNSC

    lets be honest this is fine
    the vet that inspected these cats is a joke
    he happly removes there main form of defence from the little paws
    but condems a woman for puting clean and caredfor stainless steel peircings on the cats ears like s*** like dont make me laugh the bloody weight of the peircing ruffly weights 0.5of a gram how the hell does that cause ballance issues? “s*** sir your cats tiliting at a 0.0000000002% degree angle to the right because of those peircings sorry gotta arrest you” honestly if they were like puting stretcher plugs in there ears thats diffrent but this girl had an idea ran with it did it the right way and cat cartlige is about 15% the thickness of a humans so dont even bother comparing that sorta thing. (my cats next 2 me i reakon i could peirce him and he wouldnt even know there ear cartlige is nearly paper thin were she peirced.

    [Moderator’s note: edited the cuss words.]

  • Kayla

    There is a gigantic difference between docking tails, for example, and piercing a cat’s body. They dock tails by cutting off the circulation of the undesired part of the tail, which is quite painless. To humans, when you get something pierced you know what’s going on (unless you are an infant) but to cats it feels like pain or punishment. Also, this groomer was really dumb.. did she expect the people purchasing the kittens to know how to take care of a piercing? Did she know how human piercing cleaners reacted with kittens? About inbreeding, the only people who do that are people who run puppy mills. Breeders are now being held to a higher standard as certain breeds are more susceptible to certain diseases, so they breed them to better their health as well as temperment and desirable traits. This is all thanks to advancing science and genetics.

    One last thing, I don’t think docking dogs tails is at all necessary. I think that it has been around for so long that it became okay. If people had just started doing this, it probably would be considered animal cruelty. This situation is extremely similar to alcohol, it has been so widely accepted that it’s legal. If it was discovered more recently, it would be highly illegal.. very comparable to the lady piercing the kittens.

  • Kelly

    Louche, you obviously have no idea what you are talking about. I am a pediatric nurse. “Gauge needles” are not a type of needle. Gauge refers to the diameter of a needle(AKA how wide it is). When talking about needle gauges, the lower the number of the gauge, the thicker the needle is. 14 gauge needles, which is what the article is talking about, are pretty large size needles. In my office we use 22 gauge needles to give kids vaccinations.

  • Tmeirs

    Animals do not ask to be placed in our homes, they do not ask to be collared, owned and fed dry cereal. I see no reason why people should subject them to pain. Think about this; everytime those cats shake their heads they are bashed on the head with large metal peices, evertime they move their tails their flesh is torn and damaged.  This is wrong.


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