California · Newspaper clippings

Girl acquitted of killing rats with boiling water

From the San Francisco Call
Published October 10, 1900

A teenage girl was found not guilty of animal cruelty after she poured boiling water on rats to kill them. The rats had been killing Belgian hares and pigeons Alice Carranza (between 15 and 17, pictured) kept as pets, and to exterminate the rodents, she caged them and poured scalding water over them. A neighbor witnessing the act claimed Carranza sang as she killed the rats (the San Francisco Examiner [Sep 16, 1900] reported as the rats died Carranza was heard “trilling and tra-la-ing”), though the teen denied the allegation.

At the time, the newspaper notes, this method of killing vermin was common in Russia, Spain, and Central America. Carranza testified at her trial she had grown accustomed to rats being killed in this manner and was unaware there were other methods of dispatching of them. The jury agreed on an acquittal after ten minutes of deliberation.

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