I admit, I spend a lot of time on the Internet looking at pictures of kittens.
Recently, however, there was one picture of a kitten that came with a sad, sad story attached. On June 10, an Ohio homeowner called animal control for some assistance regarding a litter of abandoned kittens that had taken up residence in a woodpile in her backyard. Humane Officer Barry Accorti responded to the call. Since there was a legitimate concern about disease, Accorti told the homeowner he would help her out, but that the shelters were full. The kittens would have to be euthanized.
After signing the appropriate paperwork, the humane officer made his way to the backyard, found the kittens hidden in the woodpile, went to his truck, got a gun, and proceeded to shoot each kitten in front of the homeowner and her small children. The children immediately started screaming and crying as they heard each of the gunshots. They cried, “Mommy, he’s killing the kittens!”
I know. Animals die every day by gun. I grew up in Alaska. I know this. But kittens? In front of children?
The homeowner had assumed, as I would also have assumed, that Accorti was going to gather them up and take them to the shelter for euthanasia. This assumption was not unreasonable; the action was. However, after a short investigation by the Chief of Police for North Ridgeville, Mike Freeman, Officer Accorti was cleared of any wrongdoing. Freeman released a statement saying the following:
“After visiting the scene, talking with the responding officer and re-interviewing the complainant, I have decided his actions were appropriate and have decided not to impose any disciplinary measures for the incident. We will talk with the humane officers about improving their communications with the public.”
Freeman further showed that he had no idea what the problem really is by saying:
“NRPD recognizes the concerns 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. Research and other animal organizations accept shooting as an acceptable means of euthanasia.”
Clearly, the police chief doesn’t get it. It’s not about “acceptable means of euthanasia.” It’s not even about killing kittens (although I have opinions on the matter, as do many others). It’s about the fact that this “humane” officer pulled a gun and shot these kittens in front of those kids. This is not a deer, or a cow, or another large game animal. These are kittens, and they are kids. If you’ve ever seen a child interact with a kitten, you know how magnetic that attraction can be. Despite the fact that they were feral cats with disease, you aren’t going to get a small child to understand the logic (is there any?) in murdering them. The kittens should have been removed from the residence and euthanized away from the view of the children, if that was the only option available. Don’t scar the kids for life, and certainly don’t take away the parents’ right to explain what has to happen to their own kids.
“Humane” Officer Barry Accorti will face no discipline in this matter. However, the Ohio SPCA is demanding that Accorti be fired and charged with animal cruelty, but no one in law enforcement in the town of North Ridgeville seems to think there was anything at all wrong with shooting kittens in front of kids. But a lot of other people sure do. Shortly after Freeman’s press release, the North Ridgeville Police Department Facebook page had to be taken down due to being overwhelmed with complaints, both civil and otherwise.
The following statement had been posted to their Facebook page once they got it back up:
“Obviously, we are aware of the complaint against H.O. Accorti and are looking into it. Our page had to be taken down last night due to the overwhelming abuse. While we understand that emotions run high in this type of incident we absolutely will not tolerate any threats made toward ANYONE on our page. Our followers have always maintained themselves in a respectable and dignified manner …and I …hope that this continues.”
“We are firm believers in everyone having their right to express their opinions about what we do, even dissenting, but they must maintain a level of common decency. It has been a longstanding policy of our page to delete any comment that gets off topic and that policy will continue. We created this post to give you a place to speak out for or against what is being reported. Please be respectful of others and use the manners that you were all raised with. Thank you.”
It seems the issue was not settled by this post, however, as attempts thus far to locate their Facebook page are being redirected to the Facebook home page. I was able to find the North Ridgeville Police Department website, on which they have a bit of information regarding their humane officers. Something tells me this won’t be the last they hear about this.