In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a dog person. Always have been. Their general goofy good naturedness makes most of them great family pets and a lot of fun. Some do important duty like shepherding, retrieving, guard detail or service work that makes them not only lovable but mighty handy to have around, too. And then there are the felines. Cats are OK, but they can be filling. And their inscrutable, imperious nature can be off-putting, especially to the more canine-inclined among us. But while I may find their appeal baffling, plenty of people can look past the hair balls and strange diseases and see the better aspects of their personalities. Somehow. And while I wouldn’t have one as a pet, I sure wouldn’t want to see anyone’s Mr. Mittens put down with a bullet for the crime of laying in a neighbor’s yard.

That’s basically what happened to a wayward kitty named Haze who’d gotten away from its owner. When the cat turned up in the yard of a neighbor, it had been out in the wilds of suburbia for a day without food or water and was panting in the 85-degree heat. That’s when the Lebanon, Ohio police were called.

An officer found the cat lying in the sun, panting. He assumed it was sick or injured. That’s when he decided to put it out of it’s ‘misery’ with a bullet to the head.

The Daily News further reports, “According to a police incident summary, the caller said the cat was a stray and that he was fearful the cat had rabies. The animal was panting, did not respond to the officer’s presence, and the officer felt the cat was suffering and in distress, according to the report summary.  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.”

Well, as long as it’s in the policy manual…. The locals haven’t released the officer’s name, no doubt to spare him the fun of the ASPCA folks marching outside his house.

Lebanon Law Director Mark Yurick and City Manager Pat Clements both told the Daily News that they support the police officer.  Yurick acknowledges that the Ohio Revised Code prohibits maliciously or willfully killing a domestic animal, but goes on to say, “There is no evidence this officer acted maliciously or willfully.  The officer wasn’t doing anything other than attempting to put a sick animal out of it’s [sic] misery.”  Clements says, “It appears that the officer’s actions were necessary and in compliance with departmental policies.  There are currently no local or county agencies equipped to respond to sick or injured stray cats, and our options are limited.”

It’s possible the responding officer knows an awful lot about cats, but diagnosing a reclining panting tabby would seem to be problematic for a typical beat cop. Or most anyone else short of a vet. I guess placing a call to the local Humane Society branch in Lebanon wasn’t one of those limited options.

Look, being a cop definitely isn’t easy. You’re never going to please everyone no matter what you do. But if an animal isn’t aggressive, foaming at the mouth or an obvious threat to anyone, it’s hard to see how committing kitticide is better than calling a local shelter. So given the local rules of wildlife engagement, if you live in Lebanon double-check that gate latch or Fluffy may end up sleeping with the fishes.

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24 Responses to It’s Tough Being a Stray in Lebanon, Ohio. Seriously.

  1. I have a cat, and this is one reason she’s an indoor-only cat; they can get into way too much trouble out there I’d never know about.

    And I agree, I don’t see what would’ve been so hard about calling the nearest shelter since the cat wasn’t acting in a threatening manner.

  2. I have that picture printed out and every time my cat pukes on the rug (which is not often, thankfully), I show it to her and tell her she better “Get with the program”. She knows what I’m talking about.

    Cop shoots kitty. Officer safety is paramount. Nothing else to see here.

    I know it’s easy to criticize if you weren’t there but, well what an asshole. It would’ve taken little effort to make a phone call and pawn off the situation on some other taxpayer-funded bureaucratic agency and let them worry about it instead of him shooting a little cat through the head. Jerk.

    • You do not know the whole story, the cat was sick and in distress. The officer did what needed to be done to end the cats suffering. the reporter did not disclose the whole story and stated it sensationally for the sake of the “story” Before you judge the book you should make sure you read its contents.

  3. This is why your cat must wear its tag and collar at all times.

    And why deputies must go ask Sheriff Andy when they need a cartridge for the service pistol.

    • This is why your cat must wear its tag and collar at all times.

      Right, because Officer Krupke, who was afraid to approach the cat because he thought it was “sick” (and beside, he really needed to kill something), would have immediately come to Jesus if Haze had been wearing his tag that day.

      Magold, you do more pontificating than the Pope.

      • It’s simple and your nutcase hate politics are irrelevant here. If your animals aren’t collared and/or tagged (metal or RFID) only you can ID them. If the cat had been wearing a collar with an address and phone number, the neighbor could have called the cat’s owner instead of the cops.

        • What an awesome world you live in, Magoo. We should all fear folks who want guns to protect their families but we should applaud lunatics who shoot cats for no reason other than they are police.

          One would think this a case for gun control but the lunacy of it seems to make sense to an advocate. Funny…

    • Collars can slip off. My locale uses RFID tags under the skin to identify pets. Of course it takes the hand held battery powered reader to access that information.

  4. I’ve had dogs and cats. I prefer cats. My cat is indoor only.

    Personal experience – cat’s are a hell of a lot esier to raise than kids, and they only break your heart once.

    Neighbor has dogs. When we hunt, he has trouble pulling trigger on a coyote – reminds him of his dogs, no problem with me, just another canine who needs killing.

    People aim their trucks at cats and avoid dogs, maybe afraid of the bigger animal causing damage?

  5. Our policy is to call Animal Care and Control. There is a statue on the books that allows live stock to put out of its misery but I’m no vet. You can be sure I’ll leave euthanization to the experts and God himself.

  6. Strangely I find myself supporting the cop on this one. Not all rabid animals foam at the mouth and act aggressive, yet they can pass along rabies just as easily as the aggressive mouth foamer if not more so. Distemper is another zoonotic disease that could cause an animal to act that way. There are some other less common zoonotic diseases with similar symptoms, and I wouldn’t want to contract any of them.

    I can’t abide a free roaming dog or cat. I’ve lost too many calves to dogs and too many piglets to cats. Plus, free roaming cats kill for fun even when they are getting fed at home. I found a study once that stated free roaming cats killed 2.5 birds and small mammals per day. If you want fido or fluffy to stay safe and healthy keep them in your house or locked in your yard and keep a collar and tag on them as a just in case.

      • “TTACer says:

        August 28, 2011 at 11:01 PM

        Why would he do anything other than call animal control?”

        He would do anything other than call animal control because he wanted to kill something. The end.

        • Animal control in Warren County will not respond. There is no one to call, no volunteers, no vet’s will care for a sick cat.

  7. Why do these morons always kill the dog or the cat? Is it part of their training, like eating donuts by the dozen or sleeping in the cruiser, or is there something deeper at work? Maybe it’s like, “gee, I may go through my entire career without killin’ someone, so I might as well shoot me a cat.”

    • I don’t get it either, Ralph. There is nothing threatening about a cat… nothing! It is a cat. Rabid or not would require rabbis shots just in case. So why screw with it?! Was it a do or die situation? Even if it had rabbis – was it? No. It is a cat!

      • I’m not an expert on rabies, but it seems to me that if that’s really what you’re afraid of, the last thing you want to do is splatter blood and brain matter around.

  8. Nothing like the weekend to bring out the cop haters…

    I like cats. I like dogs better, but cats are lower maintenance pets.

    That said, the cop made a judgment call about a suffering animal. Did he get it right? No one will ever know. But cops’ time is valuable and he was (evidently) within his department’s guidelines.
    That said, if the citizens of Lebanon, OH want to micromanage their cops and mandate waiting for animal shelter folks when dealing with a certain animals, change procedures accordingly. They should petition their elected representatives accordingly. Then vote them out if they so choose.

    Off topic, but somewhat relevant: In the People’s Republic of NY, you cannot put your own pet down. You supposed to take it (regardless of distance) to a vet or have a vet show up. You cannot put an injured deer on the side of the road down. You supposed wait (and wait) for a cop so they can do it.

  9. These people need to take up hunting or something, so they can know what it’s like to kill something, and get it out of their system. I had to shoot a cat the other day — a stray which had proven itself dangerous to the local chicken population. Around here, there’s no shelter to call, and predatory animals are fair game when they threaten your stock. I’d shoot another cat, if one showed up threatening the poultry, but I sure didn’t enjoy it, and I’d never do it for fun.

  10. The cop was afraid that the cat had rabies? What a bunch of BS. If he was afraid that the cat harbored a deadly disease, he wouldn’t have dumped the cat’s body in the neighbor’s trash.

    Is anyone stupid enought to believe that the proper protocol for handling a cat with a killer disease is to dump it in the trash? The cop lied, the cat died. End of story.

  11. Mr. Webb – However, had the shelter been called they would have contacted the owner two doors down who had already filed a missing pet report and the owner would have walked over to pick Haze up.

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