Ohio City’s Policy on Handling Stray Pets Comes Under Scrutiny

A Lebanon, Ohio couple’s cat, named Haze, didn’t come home last Friday.  On Saturday, unbeknownst to the owners, Haze turned up in a neighbor’s yard and appeared to be sick or injured.  The neighbor planned to knock on doors in the neighborhood to try and find out where the cat lived but before she could do that, another family member called the local police.  An officer responded to the call, shot Haze to death in the neighbor’s yard and the family member dropped him in the garbage can.

When the owners, Dori and Randall Stone, found out what had happened the next day, they rushed to the neighbor’s house:

“We love our cats, do you know what it was like to pull your pet out of the garbage can and then pull him out of the garbage bag and his head is bloody with a bullet hole in it?” [Mrs. Stone] said. “It’s so violent that they did this to our animal and made no effort to call the humane society or find his owners.”

The city not only stands behind the actions of the police officer, a spokesman says the brutal killing complies with departmental policy:

The police policy manual states that the animal will be destroyed where it is located if it is safe to do so and under no circumstances is an officer to transport the animal in a city vehicle.

The JournalNews reports that the policy appears to be illegal:

The policy, however, appears to violate Ohio Revised Code. Cats are one of a number of animals protected by the code that says no one shall “maliciously, or willfully and without consent of the owner” injure animals. The violation is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Haze’s owners would like to see the policy changed:

“Something needs to done, if this is common practice it needs to be changed,” Dori Stone said. “My husband and I have not eaten since Sunday morning. We are just sick. We close our eyes at night and see his little face and to think as good of care we took of him for almost seven years, these were his last moments and that was the way he had to die, it’s unbearable.”

There is a county humane society and a county dog warden but neither respond to calls about stray cats.

20 thoughts on “Ohio City’s Policy on Handling Stray Pets Comes Under Scrutiny

  1. Another John Wayne wannabe trigger happy idiot strikes again. BUT THE DIFFERENCE is this is the first time I’ve heard of a maggot shooting a feline! Nonchalant shooting of animals by so called “law enforcement” must end. What in the hell could this feline have done to make it correct to end his/her life by deadly force? Did this “thing” perceive a threat as an excuse to shoot it?

  2. I may take some flack for this, but another reason to keep your cats indoors, or at least in a confined outdoor enclosure. You may think quality of life, but poor Haze has no life now. That’s not to say that what the police officer did was right – IT WASN’T!!!

    1. db, that was my first thought! Why was the cat roaming the neighborhood to begin with?! Not that it makes what happened right, cuz it doesn’t. But, it is a good reason (among many) to keep your pets in your house/yard!

  3. Last year a bear was hit by a car on highway 1 (trans-Canada). The responding officers called conservation officers. Blocked off the highway and watched it stumble around till conservation officers showed up and euthanized it. I know people who saw this black bear. The officers should of shot it right then and there instead of letting it suffer. There are different extremes. Common sense never seems to be one of them.

  4. I sure hope Haze’s family sues the hell out of that police department and the city! They need to get this in to the national media. That city is barbaric!

  5. They say that the cat appeared injured/sick. It *may* be that shooting the cat immediately was the right thing to do to end extreme suffering, I don’t know. I once begged a police officer to shoot an injured opossum for me, but he would not because he could not secure the area. That opossum had to live another hour in agony before finally succumbing to his injuries.

    Discharging a weapon in a residential area is serious business, though. And clearly, someone needs to change the policies so cats don’t get shot as a matter of course.

    1. The article does appear to indicate that the policy applies to sick animals, and not necessarily all stray animals. However, there’s also nothing in the article to indicate that Haze was in extremis, only that he seemed ‘hurt or ill.’

      I’m inclined to suspect that if Haze had obviously been mortally ill or injured, it would’ve been mentioned in the police chief’s statement. Since it wasn’t and Haze’s body was merely tossed in the garbage – or is that policy too? – I suspect no-one took the time to make an actual assessment. Then again, based on other incidents I’ve seen in the news, it seems likely that the policeman involved has no specific training in dealing with animals.

      I hope the pet-sitter can get something off the ground there. Lebanon sounds like a city in dire need of better resources for animals.

      1. Also one family member seemed to care about this cat and was planning on knocking on their neighbors doors. If it was really hurt wouldn’t that caring person been more urgent in their search maybe drove it to a local vet? Put it in a nice comfy box maybe? Something. Seems weird though that the cat didn’t leave or run off while they waited for police.

      2. There’ve been updates on this story in the news:


        [h/t @nwinograd]

        According to this, Haze was panting and unresponsive, and the person who phoned the police feared he was rabid. Yet, again, his body was left in the household’s rubbish, not removed for necropsy … or does Lebanon not bother to follow up on possible rabies cases? Even in residential neighborhoods?

      3. If they really thought the cat was rabid, shooting it in the head is the wrong thing to do – you’re supposed to try and preserve the head. I have a feeling that “rabies” is a later thought to try and defend the officer’s actions. Either that or the local police are completely untrained regarding potentially rabid animals.

      4. Rabid. Oh please. I guarandamntee ya if it had been a dog, they’d be saying “he lunged at/charged/tried to attack” the cop. Since it was a poor kitty, their brain trust came up with “rabid”. No sale here.

  6. We need national reform on this issue. Not that long ago, in Haralson County, GA, is there was a stray dog/cat, the sheriff’s office would tell you to just shoot/kill the animal. I don’t know if they’ve changed their policies or not, but as far as I know, they haven’t any animal control services in that area.
    Far too many animals are being killed simply due to ignorance.

  7. Our love to the family of Haze.

    Please keep your cats indoors. They are not equipped to live in our dangerous world. They’re called “house cats” for a reason. These horrible situations can be avoided and think of all the strays saved and TNR efforts that could be done away with.

  8. I have no words…love and hugs and prayers to the Haze and his family. It would NOT be polite to say what I send to that asshole of a cop.

  9. What a tragedy, Accross this country the police have mirrored our cultures low regard for animals in their treatment. Not always but so often it is an eye opener. Try being a pit bull owner, in my town they look for a reason to gun them down.

  10. Could it have been heat stroke? My cat recently got out and we couldn’t find him for two days. He went up around the corner. One of the neighbors there saw him acting funny and foaming at the mouth. They thought he had rabies too so they called Animal Control. AC came and realized he had heat stroke so they rushed him to the vet. Thankfully they did that instead of shooting him on site. I contacted AC the next day asking about him and they knew exactly who I was asking about. Needless to say, I am thankful our county has an excellent AC and that my cat is now okay. I can only imagine the pain the Haze’s are going through.

  11. Tammy, would you feel comfortable letting us know what county your talking about that has good ACOs? I know there are some good ones out there, and if they do their jobs the right way, they should be thanked. I know you thanked them, but a few more wouldn’t be a bad idea, right?

    Shirley, would you want to do something like a ‘shout out’ to good ACOs?

  12. Has anyone gotten in touch with Department of Agriculture, Animal Welfare Bureau in Tennessee? http://news.tn.gov/node/4838

    I don’t know who is in charge now, but it would seem a likely place to get in touch with whomever is in charge at this time and ask that they step into the light on these matters of animal abuse.

    Also, what about bringing the Humane Society of Tennessee into the Memphis issues as well? Are they aware of what has been going on?

  13. As much as I don’t like cats, this was someone’s pet. Cats commonly roam around and come back home. This was very extreme. It sucks and is a hassle having to locate and retrieve your animal from impound, but it sure beats finding your animal dead for absolutely no reason!

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