Humane Officer Barry Accorti works for the city of North Ridgeville in Ohio, under the police department. On Monday, a resident called in a complaint about a family of feral cats living in a woodpile on her property. The homeowner reportedly complained that the cats had fleas. Humane Officer Accorti responded to the call:
The homeowner and mother of four said Accorti told her the shelters were full and the cats would go to “kitty heaven.” That’s when he shot the five, 8 to 10-week-old kittens, with the woman standing nearby and her children watching from inside the house.
She said her children, ages 5 months to 7 years, were screaming and crying at the sound of the gunshots. The mother cat ran away and was not killed.
That’s one account. The story quickly blew up online and the public backlash was scathing. The police department had to temporarily take down its Facebook page due to comments from outraged citizens. Police Chief Mike Freeman has already cleared Humane Officer Barry Accorti and issued a statement:
The homeowner […] told Accorti the feral cats were causing flea problems within the residence, a foul odor and leaving dead wildlife in her yard, Freeman said. The officer told the woman that because of her concerns, including concerns about diseases feral cats can develop and the proximity of the wood pile to her house, assistance could be rendered, but the cats would be euthanized, Freeman said.
“The complainant agreed to accept assistance and the officer started to dismantle the wood pile,” Freeman said. “The cats were located within the wood pile and euthanized.”
That’s another account. The flea complaint cited in the first article has now mushroomed into dead wildlife, general stinkiness and the infamous feral cat diseases, so well loved by cat killers, even if they lack scientific merit. Oh and the Glock spree carried out against the baby cats trapped in the wood pile? That’s now “euthanasia”.
The statement continues:
“The NRPD recognizes the concern of those who believe feral cats should not be killed for simply trying to survive but also acknowledges other research that recognizes the risks associated with these animals and the need to manage feral cats,” Freeman said. “Research and other animal organizations accept shooting as an acceptable means of euthanasia.”
And by “need to manage feral cats” apparently the police chief means “it’s totally necessary to gun kittens down on sight”. Shooting indeed is considered an acceptable means of euthanasia for animals but only in rare cases. A deer being hit by a car in the middle of the night in a remote area when there is no reasonable expectation of veterinary assistance or expectation that the animal will survive – that would be an instance where many animal organizations accept shooting as a last resort and the only alternative to allowing the animal to suffer until death. Baby cats trapped in a woodpile? Not so much. More from Police Chief Freeman:
“At no time does this agency condone or allow the indiscriminate killing of animals, but we will continue to assist residents when there is a safety or nuisance condition.”
A lie coupled with what sounds like a threat. Gee, that’s swell. I guess that will teach residents to call in nuisance complaints to the city’s “humane” officer.
The public reaction against the killings has been widespread and at least one rally has been announced. I hope that anyone who contacts the North Ridgeville PD or attends any protest event will make a point to speak, politely and firmly, in favor of the right of feral cats to live. That seems to have been lost amidst all the outrage. The homeowner was upset because her kids started screaming when the kittens were being killed. She was fine with killing them, just not so loudly and not in her yard. The “humane” officer mentioned “kitty heaven” because the shelter was full. Feral cats do not need space in a shelter, unless it’s temporary housing to neuter and vaccinate them before release back into the community. Feral cats can be relocated, with the assistance of colony caretakers. Kittens born to feral mama cats can be tamed and placed as housepets. The options for life are numerous – and I would argue, the only options which could ethically be considered. Instead Humane Officer Barry Accorti chose death. And the police chief backed him up while implying killings of this type will continue in the community if others call in nuisance complaints. This is not only absurd, it’s barbaric.
(Thanks to everyone who sent me links on this story.)