After months of delays, National Zoo employee Nico Dauphin finally had her day in court, and was found guilty of attempted animal cruelty for poisoning the food set out for a managed community cat colony living near her Washington, D.C., apartment complex.
Her lawyer, Billy Martin who, incidentally, was also Michael Vick’s defense attorney couldn’t convince the judge that Dauphin deserved to be acquitted of the charges.
It’s no wonder, really. Despite the fact that surveillance video clearly showed Dauphin removing a plastic bag from her purse and dumping poison into the food, Martin argued that “Someone else could have leaned in, outside of the camera, and put the poison in it.”
That’s about the lamest defense argument I’ve ever heard.
Of course, Dauphin denied the charges. “I would never do anything like that,” she said. “Ive always loved animals, ever since childhood.”
That’s why she created presentations like “Apocalypse Meow” (which was pulled from the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Wildlife Management earlier this year, after she was initially charged with attempted animal cruelty) and wrote letters to the editor like this one (it’s at the bottom of the page). That’s why she’s conducted “research” that led to the publication of papers like “Impacts of Free-Ranging Domestic Cats on Birds in the United States” and contributed to an article on what conservation biologists can do to counter trap-neuter-return arguments.
Dauphin, of course, said that her large library of anticat writings had been “misconstrued.”
Senior Judge Truman A. Morrison III, who presided over the trial, wasn’t fooled. The surveillance video and the incontrovertible evidence of Dauphin’s attitude toward cats, along with her attempts to distance herself from materials she herself had written, made the truth pretty obvious.
Her inability and unwillingness to own up to her own professional writings as her own undermined her credibility, Morrison said.
Ooh, snap! Was that the sound of somebody getting schooled?
Dauphin’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 21. The charge of attempted cruelty to animals carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
That’s just a slap on the wrist, of course, but I hope the charge serves to discredit her and her so-called research. Now, if only the national magazines that cited Dauphin’s findings would take it upon themselves to find some legitimate research about the effects of cats on wild birds and present a truly unbiased article on the subject …
Update: The National Zoo’s Twitter feed reports that “yesterday the Smithsonian accepted Dr. Dauphines resignation and it was effective immediately.”