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.)
31 thoughts on “North Ridgeville, OH: A Layer Cake of Absurdity”
Dear God, the image of those kittens being shot is horrendous. It sounds as if the police don’t feel that they’ve done anything wrong. There were so many different options available to these people – including the woman who called in about these cats. I hope the shootings stay in her mind for a very long time and that she learns that these cats and kittens have every right to live. So many other choices and they chose killing. UNBELIEVABLE!!! I’m sorry for the kittens, the mama cat and those children who had to witness this barbaric show.
It doesn’t sound like the woman who called in the complaint expected the cats to killed as the first choice, or expected that shooting on the spit would be the method of choice. Let’s not shift the blame from where it belongs.
I hear that there was a rally and it was well attended and news crews were there. The local radio stations are covering it as well. It’s the poll question of the day on WNIR (http://www.wnir.com/) – feel free to go vote, it’s right on their front page.
The whole thing is sickening. I have not heard what has become of the mother cat (who apparently escaped the slaughter).
“Accorti allegedly told the homeowner that he isn’t supposed to do this, but it was justifiable. The woman ran into the house to shield her children who were screaming and crying.”
This is serving the community, is it?
personally…I hope the address/ was made known in one or more reports, so the public could voice other options to the home owner… Hopefully the homeowner learned something. I’d love to hear how this homeowner would react to her childrens classmate having head lice…
We realize that some organizations believe children with head lice have the right to live but research shows that there are public safety concerns and many organizations agree that euthanasia is acceptable…
On Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 12:29 PM, YesBiscuit!
It does not sound like the home owner anticipated or wanted this “solution” to her problem, and she’s not the one who needs to be targeted–particularly not with your sky suggestion that she and her children should be harassed at home.
I did not say to “target or harass the homeowner.. how about inform/educate as to other alternatives..it’s never too late to learn. And it could be very good for the children. They could be the next generation of animal advocates.
Sorry, no, suggesting that someone’s home address be distributed so that people who think they disagree with them is NEVER innocent.
The claim that this woman knew that the cats would be killed comes from the same police department that says that, even though it is against policy, the “humane officer” did nothing wrong in shooting them. I see no reason to believe that claim. Do you?
As someone who owns an amazing cat who started life as a feral kitten, this is incredibly sickening. Even if my boy had never been tamed (and to be frank he’s still a feral at heart with zero bite inhibition), he would have deserved every chance at living out his full life.
First, the news report was VERY inaccurate. Why? It happened at night around 8:30-9pm. I live down the street and heard the shots. The lady was standing there watching, nor were her children. She was concerned because the kids could hear the shots.
Second, you people need to get a grip on reality. These were feral cats. There are over 95 million feral cats in the U.S. They are among the top invasive species in the world. They cause property destruction. They kill more than 530 million native birds and small animals each year. TNR programs do nothing to fix that problem.
The ORC does not make it illegal to shoot to kill feral cats. It makes it illegal to maim or torture animals that are domesticated. Nuisance feral animals may be killed. Ohio has yet to go as far as other states and allow feral cats, again nuisance animals, to be hunted. I hope that changes.
I was going to ask you for sources for any of your ridiculous claims but since I’m banning you for comments about killing cats, I won’t.
Drave…you really need to evolve….this is 2013, you don’t need to go around executing cats.
you don’t have a friggin clue.
you fail to mention how feral cats keep the rat and mouse population down.
maybe you would like to be over run with vermin…..
I have seen more hawks, jays, crows, foxes and even squirrels killing both baby and adult birds than cats ever could.
TNR works, I have seen it work, its also humane, but you would have to open your mind to figure it out.
A managed feral cat doesn’t need to kill if they are being fed, they cant reproduce, they do not cause property destruction, but they will keep the rodents away.
bottom line is….
if ignorant people would get their cats fixed and stop abandoning them there would be no feral cats.
sounds like a human cause to me.
it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.
“They are among the top invasive species in the world. They cause property destruction. ”
Oh…for a minute there, I thought he was talking about humans.
I sent North Ridgeville contact info for Major Steve Lamb at Spartanburg Humane in SC. Major Lamb has said that he will gladly talk to any community heads that wish to institute a program similar to theirs. Their TNR program is winning them love letters from around the world, by the way. North Ridgeville has an opportunity to turn this horrorshow around…if they can stop circling the wagons for just a minute…
Being a resident of Spartanburg,SC , I must say , I am so very proud of the city of Spartanburg Animal Services. Maj Lamb is on my speed dial :) . One slight clarification , Spartanburg Humane is not SAS. Spartanburg Humane , and Spartanburg County AC still need work. But, I’m sure Maj Lamb would be happy to speak with the folks in North Ridgeville on how to build a humane program.. He IS getting requests from all over the country. Heck, all over the world!
Tami, thank you for the clarification.
You’re using numbers that came out of somebody’s ass to justify killing kittens that committed the crime of living in a suburban back yard? Seriously?
“In the Nature Communications study, authors Scott R. Loss, Tom Will, and Peter P. Marra needed to incorporate into their model the number of ‘un-owned cats’ (such as stray, feral, and barn cats) in the U.S. As they note in to the article, ‘no empirically driven estimate of un-owned cat abundance exists for the contiguous U.S.'”
I’m caring for a colony of feral cats and frankly, there’s one of my group that would probably be better off if it were humanly euthanized.
But, let me be clear here and say that it should NEVER be done by some rogue “humane” officer brandishing a firearm, which he’s probably never been properly trained to use.
I’m most appalled that the North Ridge Police Department isn’t disciplining this officer for discharging his weapon in a residential area, with children present, when there was clearly NO THREAT to anyone.
Nelson’s Mama, if that’s the case, then yes, you should do right by that cat in your colony. It’s a hard decision, but that’s ok because it’s *supposed* to be a hard decision. Unlike Officer Yahoo here who seems to enjoy shooting kittens…
Discharging his firearm in a residential area? You do realize that most of the city is a residential area? He has never been properly trained to use? He has been an officer for 30 years the news reports state. You make a lot of assumptions.
But, THERE WAS NO THREAT to anyone. So we can, very safely, assume he’s an a-hole.
The only animals we’ve ever had in a wood pile were snakes and mice. I don’t wish them ill but if a feral cat makes a meal of them I will look the other way. And keeping rodents down used to be considered a cats job, I’m sooooo behind the times/.
Just what are we teaching our humane officers in training classes?
A cat that would have kittens in someones yard that has kids does not sound like it would meet the definition of feral.
Another point no one has mentioned is that this action solved NOTHING.
The feral momma cat got away. She was not killed. Since TNR was not used, she was also not spayed. This means that in a few months she will get pregnant and then have those kittens elsewhere. Will officer Accorti kill those kittens too when the time comes? What about all the other feral cats and kittens in that town? Will he callously murder them too?
Residents of that town should not only demand disciplinary action (up to and including firing) for Accorti, they should demand an implementation of No Kill policies in their shelter, which include proper feral cat management through TNR.
A second point I want to bring up is the children. The articles do not say how much the children could have seen from their viewpoint inside the house. 8-10 week old kittens weigh between 2-3 pounds. Animals that small, being shot and killed at presumably close range, I imagine the carnage would be gruesome. Little kitten body parts strewn all over the place comes to mind. No one is talking about the emotional damage caused to the children who witnessed these defenseless animals being murdered. It seems to me that may well have some permanent psychological ramifications, especially for the older children.
I saw a kitten hit by a car when I was very young and the imagery absolutely stuck with me for life. I had nightmares for years after the actual event. I can’t imagine how great the effect would have been if the death hadn’t been accidental, but rather callously inflicted for absolutely no good reason. Even if the children didn’t actually witness any of it, I would think just the knowledge would be enough to do damage.
I saw this story yesterday and it just made my jaw drop. Tonight I collected myself enough to write to the mayor and the city council members . . . I included a list of Ohio TNR groups, which took me all of 30 seconds to dig up.
This story made HuffPost. Ironically, since it’s a name-and-shame story, they got the officer’s first name wrong:
I just spoke with the police station and they insist there was nothing further they could do. I believe they need to make a protocol so that all animals are taken to a no kill shelter. I suggested this and he told me to give him a name of one. I think these officers have a duty to protect and serve, NOT KILL. Our society needs to realize that abuse against animals and children creates a hostile society. Police officers are meant to help, not hurt. These actions should have this officer fired because he has violated a moral code of killing verses protecting. If anyone has no kill shelter information, please contact the police station with this information.
The local person who took your call at the police station can’t find this out? Geez, I like how we are “meddling outsiders” until they want us to do something for them. It would be much simpler for a local to recommend someplace that does TNR. Or dare we suggest the area municipal shelter do its job?
Yeah, but he didn’t even bother trying to contact ANYONE before he pulled his weapon. He just decided that the shelter was full and that the kittens needed to die. It’s like a paramedic deciding that the hospital is busy, so he’s just going to drive the ambulance over you instead.