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Family of Haze, Cat Shot By Police, Seek Change With Petition

We covered the story of the pampered house cat summarily shot by a Lebanon, OH policeman in response to a call about a supposed stray, last August. Haze asks WHY DID THE POLICE SHOOT ME? in the petition started last month. His family and supporters seek change so that what happened to Haze will not happen again.

Dori and Randy Stone are loving and responsible pet owners who care for six cats.  They still miss their beloved Haze who was shot by a local police officer on August 20, 2011 for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That wrong place was out of his yard and laying on a neighbor’s back lawn. That wrong time was when the neighbor’s brother in law, who does not even live in Lebanon, called police and reported Haze as a stray. Officer Covey came to the scene, and five minutes later Haze was laying dead with a bullet hole in his head and the officer was gone. Dori and Randi found Haze wrapped in a garbage bag and stuffed in the bottom of the neighbor’s trash bin. They lay their boy out on the lawn. There were no signs of illness or trauma except for that bullet to the head.

The Stones, cats are indoor cats, but Haze sometimes liked to lay out in the yard. He was a beautiful, well groomed 20 pound tabby in perfect health. Haze went missing on Friday night, the 19th, and set of a frantic search by Dori and Randy, who covered the neighborhood calling his name. On Saturday morning, Betty Haslip and her brother in law Vernon Lake saw Haze laying in Betty’s yard.  Ms. Haslip planned to go knocking on doors but Vernon, who was raking another neighbor’s leaves, called the police without her knowledge and reported Haze as a stray. Vernon is reported to have shown no regard for Haze’s life or well being and kept coming up with different reasons why he needed to be put down. Versions of his story say he thought Haze was a  sick or possibly rabid cat when it was noted that he did not resemble a stray. Anecdotally, Vernon is described as a cat hater. Officer Covey, a twenty-something newcomer to law enforcement, apparently did not question the need to get rid of Haze, and did not bother to call the humane society to see if a cat had been reported missing.

Dori had reported Haze as missing to the Humane Society by the time of the incident and says that a simple call from the officer could and should have saved her cat’s life. Haze’s family was kept waiting and wondering what had happened until Sunday when Dori called the police and was told an officer had killed a cat the previous day, and that the caller suggested the cat might be a stray and looked like he might be rabid.  Dori and Randi immediately went and retrieved Haze’s body.

Haze was a sweet, loving cat with many of those special traits and habits that pet parents feel makes their own pet special. While he was largely an indoor cat, he did spend some time in the yard, as noted above. While outside, Haze adopted a young 6 month old stray who he brought to his door for feeding and a safe place to stay. The little stray, formerly called Miss Marple, later Marlowe, looked up to Haze as a parent and companion. Marlowe spent time on the Stones’ back porch, where Haze would go to sleep with his little pal. When Haze was killed, the Stones took Marlowe inside for his own safety, and to honor Haze’s friendship with him, they took him to the vet and adopted him. Marlowe remains an indoor cat, but six months later he continues to look for Haze.

The Stones still cry when they talk about Haze and they have not lost any of their determination to find some measure of closure for his senseless death by pushing for the changes that still have not come to their town.

We covered the story on August 27, in Tragic Cat Shooting by Police Highlights Need For Policy Change. Haze’s shooting brought matters of police policy and the practices of local government and justice to the fore, and brought issues to light that have engaged local residents to this day. Six months later, little has changed. Aside from the summary execution of Haze based on a flimsy request from a man raking leaves, issues include a policy Operations Manual that, unlike all other area police policies, forbids an officer from transporting an animal in a cruiser. The town does not have an animal control officer and the local Warren County Humane Society does not pick up animals. There is a dog warden who deals only with dogs.This leaves a huge gap in animal care and control services for Lebanon, a well to do community. Another issue that has galvanized residents is that Officer Covey discharged a firearm in a densely populated neighborhood in a non-emergency situation, and followup procedures were not made.  A supervisor is supposed to go to the scene and count the officer’s bullets and turn the shooting over to internal affairs.

A City Council meeting after the incident drew a large attendance and brought about the promise of change. A draft of new provisions to the Police Operations Manual was intended to appease the Stones and other concerned members of the public, but many are left feeling that nothing has changed. With the new provisions, officers are still not forbidden from shooting an animal, even though it is against the law to do so in the state of Ohio. They may not shoot wildlife or dogs, but other pets are not protected.

 

While Dori and Randy initially thought they were alone in their grief for Haze and concern for local policies and practices, they were amazed to learn that, within weeks of the incident, the Lebanon City Manager received over 1,000 calls and emails about the case. The story made its way into the press when the Stones’ petsitter posted about Haze’s shooting on her Facebook page. Someone with media connections saw the post and the story became news from there.

There is a Haze the Cat Facebook page dedicated to Haze’s memory and to Dori and Randy Stone’s quest for change and closure on the terrible case of their beloved cat’s death. The page could use a few more “likes”.

The Stones would appreciate your help. While they feel it it crucial to their effort to have signatures from their local area they are seeking as much support as possible from all over.

The petition is hosted at Change.org, which emails the target each time someone signs the petition, WHY DID THE POLICE SHOOT ME?

The stated goal and purpose of the petition is, “to persuade the Lebanon City Council, City Manager and Police Chief to require all Lebanon, Ohio Police officers to take an animal rescue training course, which the Ohio Humane Society has offered to provide. This petition also seeks to revise the Lebanon Police Operations Manual to prohibit officers from using deadly force on any non-threatening animal and to formally reprimand Officer Covey and his supervisor for using unnecessary deadly force on Haze in a residential area.”

The Humane Society of Greater Dayton supports this petition and has shared it with those on its mailing list, getting the petition off to a very good start. The petition currently has a set goal of 2,500 signatures. We will suggest that the goal be set to a higher number. The petition currently has just over 1,900 signatures.

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News video from August, 2011.




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13 comments

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    February 29, 2012 10:24 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Angie McClanahan

    SHAME on this Police Dept. To shoot a cat for being out in someone’s yard is sensless enough. To shoot a healthy looking twenty pound,well cared for cat and claim it was “stray” is unforgivable. My heart breaks for the Stone family. I was in tears for them reading their story. My thoughts and prayers are with them. There needs to be change in this community , and in that polce Dept. This can not be allowed to happen again.

    Reply
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    February 29, 2012 11:14 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sharon Bell

    This is utterly discusting and should never have happened…

    Reply
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    March 1, 2012 12:52 amPosted 2 years ago
    Nancy Robison

    I am sorry for the loss of their baby

    Reply
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    March 1, 2012 4:18 amPosted 2 years ago
    Chrissi

    will sign the petition and ‘like’ the Facebook page, but that would not I feel heal the pain of losing a furfriend so as well I am wishing Cyberhugs to you and love to little Marlowe too

    Reply
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    March 1, 2012 5:59 amPosted 2 years ago
    Nancy Emmons

    I feel their pain and will sign the petition and ‘like’ the Facebook page. This is too much like something that happened to one of my sister’s cats just because a neighbor didn’t like the cat hunting birds in their yard. Poor Oliver was scared and raced into the street where he was hit by a car and died shortly after my sister found him of a traumatic head injury. Why can’t people just notify the animal’s owner for crying out loud?

    Reply
  • March 1, 2012 5:00 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sue Bingley

    To quote Gandhi…”The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated ” Maybe this ethos should be included in the training programmes of anyone who aspires to hold any authority within a country…
    The petition has been signed and forewarded to many FB users both here in the UK and New Zealand…and along with Chrissie, Big Cyberhugs.xxx

    Reply
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    March 1, 2012 10:20 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Cindy Howard

    Thanks for writing Haze’s story, he is now loved by many that want to see changes in Lebanon, Ohio. It is painful thinking this could happen to our pets and families.
    Lebanon’s Council, Law Director & Manager Clements have serious character flaws when they can’t see the reality of their situation. Worse yet to cover it up and then not apologize to the Stone’s and then the Mayor & Council continue the game, thinking all is well in Lebanon. Who would want to live there? Who can feel safe in Lebanon? Then you have others ignoring the killing of Haze, the WARREN CO. PROSECUTOR, Humane Association of Warren Co. Lebanon residents are paying these peoples salaries! RIP HAZE!

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    March 2, 2012 5:42 amPosted 2 years ago
    Megan

    Awful story. I think that moron Vernon should be charged for falsely reporting that Haze was a stray. What’s worse is the lack of any accountability from the authorities. Where are the animal welfare organisations and their voices?

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      March 2, 2012 9:54 amPosted 2 years ago
      Editor (Author)

      Hi Megan,
      It’s been determined that there’s no way to get charges to stick against Vernon. He can say “I thought the cat was” and then add any number of endings, like sick or rabid.

      The wonderful Humane Society of Greater Dayton has been very supportive of Haze and his family, and cares about the issues that allowed his death to occur.

      Reply
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    March 4, 2012 8:36 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Cat

    cop should totally be fired! A cop having no compassion for the living including animals…no experience, no common sense, has no place on a police force…and that Vernon probably baited Haze to the back yard…Why would Haze even BE in their BACK yard and went missing ALL night the previous night….that Vernon person may well have poisoned or hurt MAZE and knew he wanted him killed but the fact a cop would even come out after one call about a “stray” and kill any cat….including Maze…..Vernon a Cat Hater…I just KNOW in my gut he hit or did something to Haze and that is why Maze was in their back yard……..an investigation should be done….Vernon should go to jail…the Cop should be fired….and sadly Maze lost his life for a little freedom………that animals can not have in this world safely…..animals outside face this all the time and are never safe in many ways………criminals running loose in this world while the innocent must be in constant fear of animal abusers everywhere!

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    March 5, 2012 11:44 amPosted 2 years ago
    Christine Harris

    This is just one more incident where police officers should be held to the highest of accountability. If they were, their actions would change. The police are no more than a legalized criminal gang in the U.S.

    Reply
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    April 15, 2012 2:39 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Marie

    Maybe if the pet owners were more responsible and kept a better eye on their cat they would really know what had happened to it. The police were called because of a sick cat laying in the yard because the neighbor thought it had been struck by a car. Not because it was taking a snooze in their grass you dumb asses. The officer tried to move it several times and scare it away and it was not responsive to sound or touch. It was panting heavily and not moving. It was then the officer called in with instruction on what to do with the animal and then he put it down. He didn’t shoot the cat twenty times.

    If the owner truly cared about this cat they would have gone looking into their neighbors yard and all over when they had realized it was missing. This is no ones fault and the owners just want to pin their negligence on someone else.

    Police don’t go out for target practice. How about you know your facts before you jump to conclusions.

    The cop should not be fired. Stop being crazy people he was doing what he was told and what he thought was right. I stand behind the cop.

    Also you people saying he should have been shot instead. You are disgusting and you should be shot for saying that. This officer is a good man.

    Seriously people. Get a life.

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    April 15, 2012 2:41 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Marie

    Not only that just because he put a cat down does not mean he is going to shoot a child you morons. Seriously. Be a little more extreme you idiots.

    Reply

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