Italian army medical officer Lt. Barbara Balanzoni is being prosecuted for saving the life of a pregnant cat while on duty at a Nato base in Kosovo.
According to the indictment, Balanzoni disobeyed an order not to approach wild or stray animals near the army facility. If found guilty, she could face a minimum of one year in jail.
In her defense, Balanzoni recalled the day of the event, when army personnel phoned the infirmary and reported noises made by one cat. Following military regulations, Balanzoni argued, she intervened in the absence of a vet.
“If the cat had died, the entire area would have had to be disinfected. What is more, the surviving kittens could not have been fed,” Balanzoni said. “They too would have died and created an even greater public health problem.”
Prosecutors argue that instead of preventing a health problem, she caused one when she was bitten by the cat and had to be taken to a German hospital to receive a rabies vaccination.
Balanzoni called the bite nothing but a scratch.
Balanzoni will be defended by Entre Nazionale Protezione Animali, Italy’s oldest animal protection agency. An online petition started by the agency in her defense has already received 10,000 signatures.
The case will be considered on Feb. 7 when the court reconvenes after Christmas break.