NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio – Dozens of people marched to North Ridgeville City Hall Monday to urge city officials to change their policy on how they deal with feral cats, one week after a humane officer shot five kittens after a resident complained about them.
Many of the protesters were North Ridgeville residents.
“I don’t think it was right,” said one resident through tears as she spoke to the mayor and city council.
“I don’t want to raise my children in a city where I can’t trust public officer with an animal let alone human being,” the woman said.
"I've been a resident of North Ridgeville for the past 12 years and this is the first time that I can honestly say I am ashamed to live in this city," another woman said.
Residents were joined by officials from the Ohio SPCA and a national organization called Alley Cat Allies from the Washington, D.C. metro area.
The public comments lasted for an hour and half, with nearly 30 people speaking.
"I think he should be fired. He's a monster. He doesn't deserve to be referred to as a 'humane' officer, because he obviously is not," Laura Smith of North Ridgeville said.
Only two speakers out of nearly 30 supported Officer Barry Accorti’s actions.
Many of the people do not want humane officers to be allowed to shoot animals, unless the animals are posing an imminent and serious threat or very injured and need to be put out of their misery.
Over and over people offered-up another solution to reduce the feral cat populations, called trap-neuter-return, or TNR.
Mayor Dave Gillock did not seem interested in it, and quoted an article that claimed the TNR was ineffective.
“In my opinion, this does not address the issue of this particular case,” Gillock said.
"If those cats were neutered and released back to the resident's backyard, where they were hissing and growling and were in a woodpile with young children, it doesn't address the danger to those young children. If those kids get scratched and infected, who is going to be responsible? And if you released them elsewhere you have just made it someone else’s problem," Gillock said.
Gillock said they are taking up an offer by the SPCA for training.
Chief Mike Freeman said they will assess he current animal policies and make changes, where needed.
"This policy we are going to look at will involve education, resources, alternative means of dealing with this ever-growing problem. The worst thing I can do for the citizens of North Ridgeville is to ignore the problem because the problem is not going to go away by itself," Freeman said.
However, they did not reveal exactly what changes would be made, and there was no talk of disciplining Accorti for shooting the kittens.