City Desk

Appeal Denied for Columbia Heights Bird Lover Who Tried To Poison Cats

Cat

The Columbia Heights woman convicted in 2011 of attempting to poison her neighborhood cats for the sake of the bird population is, well, still guilty.

The D.C. Court of Appeals denied Nico Dauphine's appeal in a ruling issued Thursday, writing that "the government has met its burden to prove appellant acted with intent to commit the crime of cruelty to animals."

A video camera caught Dauphine, who was found guilty of attempted animal cruelty, taking a plastic bag out of her purse and pouring poisonous contents from the bag into a cat food bowl.

A neighbor saw her do this, reported the incident, and no cats ate the poisoned food out of that bowl.

At the time of her conviction, she was working at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and had published research on the catastrophic impact of homeless cats on bird populations. Dauphine even wrote a letter to the  New York Times saying that in the war between cats and birds, the "slaughter is almost exclusively one-sided." She holds a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and management.

When she was convicted two years ago, Dauphine was given a 180-day suspended sentence, a year of supervised probation, and 120 hours of community service. Most importantly, she was ordered to stay away from cats.

In the appeal, Dauphine's lawyers argued that there was not sufficient evidence to prove malicious intent in her actions and, thus, she shouldn't have been convicted of attempted animal cruelty.

But the appeals court upheld the Superior Court judge's decision, who said “there wouldn’t be any way for anybody to poison animals that would eat cat food in a non-malicious fashion except some extraordinary circumstance which doesn’t naturally arise in this case.”

Read the appeals ruling here:

Alley cat photo by Shutterstock

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