NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio-- Police are defending the shooting of feral kittens outside of a residence on Vista Lake Way.
In a press release, North Ridgeville Police Chief Mike Freeman said a resident contacted them Monday on the department's Facebook page, saying a family of cats made a home in their wood pile. The resident asked if a humane officer could pick up the cats.
The chief said humane officer, Barry Accorti, arrived on the scene and was shown the wood pile where the feral cats were located. The wood piles were about ten feet from the home.
The homeowner told the officer that the feral cats were causing flea problems within the residence, along with a foul odor. They were also leaving deceased wildlife in her yard.
The homeowner was advised that due to her safety concerns, the officer would assist her, but the cats would have to be euthanized.
The chief said the homeowner agreed. The humane officer located the kittens within the wood pile and they were euthanized and taken away.
During a follow-up interview with the homeowner, she stated she knew the feral cats were going to be euthanized, but did not expect it to happen on her property.
She said she felt overwhelmed because her children were inside the home and heard the gunshots. She urged better communication in the future.
In the press release, Chief Freeman said the North Ridgeville Police Department recognizes the concerns of those who believe feral cats should not be killed, but also acknowledges other research that recognizes the risks associated with the animals and the need to manage feral cats.
The press release also stated that research and other animal organizations accept shooting as an acceptable means of euthanasia.
The chief said that, after visiting the scene; talking with Accorti, who has 30+ years of law enforcement experience; and re-interviewing the homeowner, he has decided Accorti's actions were appropriate. Chief Freeman has decided not to impose any disciplinary measures. The chief said he will talk with the human officers about improving communications with the public.
Chief Freeman said the department is there to help those who seek their assistance. He also said the agency does not condone or allow the indiscriminate killing of animals, but will continue to assist residents when there is a safety or nuisance condition.
In the meantime, a complaint has been filed with the Ohio SPCA.
The Elyria Friendship APL, who has jurisdiction over Lorain County, is also investigating the incident.
"We will conduct an investigation to see if there was wrongdoing at all. That's kind of where we come into play. The investigation would entail whether or not the animals suffered at all as a result of the animal control officer's actions; that's actually what we are investigating at this point to see," said Greg Willey, the director of the APL.
The Friendship APL said they must work with the SPCA in the preliminary investigation.
If they find officer Accorti guilty of any wrongdoing, he could face several charges of animal cruelty, which are misdemeanors.