Outrage Grows After Ohio Humane Officer Shoots and Kills 5 Kittens
“NRPD recognizes the concerns of those who believe feral cats should not be killed for simply trying to survive but also acknowledges 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,” - North Ridgeville Police Department.
Outrage and controversy are growing after an incident at the home of a North Ridgeville, Ohio resident yesterday. The resident contacted the police at Facebook, asking for help with a family of feral cats living in her woodpile that she said were bringing fleas and foul odors to her home and property, and leaving the carcasses of small prey in the yard.
One of the community’s two humane officers, a former long-time member of the police force, was quickly dispatched to the scene, and after letting the woman know the kittens would be killed in response to her complaint, took out his gun and shot them dead.
The woman says she understood the kittens would be “euthanaized” but did not espect them to be killed in such a brutal manner at the scene, with her children inside nearby.
The police department is standing behind Humane Officer Barry Accorti, and Chief Michael Freeman says there will be no disciplinary action taken against him. Chief Freeman said, “I have decided his actions were appropriate and have decided not to impose any disciplinary measures,” but added that the department will speak with its humane officers “about improving their communications with the public.”
The Ohio SPCA says the incident is disgraceful and is calling for Officer Acorti to be fired.
The SPCA is taking an activist stance on the shootings and lack of disciplinary action, with a post at Facebook on Monday, saying:
” SPEAK OUT!!!!! KITTENS SHOT – DISGUSTING and HEARTBREAKING
” North Ridgeville in Lorain County, Ohio – North Ridgeville “Humane” Officer Barry Accorti responded to a call this afternoon (6/10/13) regarding a feral mother cat and her five kittens living in a woodpile in a homeowner’s backyard. He told the homeowner that shelters were full and that the cats would be going to kitty heaven. He then pulled out his gun and shot to death the five 8 to 10 week-old kittens.
“Accorti told the woman that he isn’t supposed to do this, but it was justifiable. The woman ran into the house to shield her children who were screaming and crying. We are told that he discharged his gun approximately 15 feet from the backyard patio. The mother cat is still alive.
“In April 2013, Accorti was applauded for saving a baby Great Horned Owl on a playground, yet he did not hesitate to murder 5 baby kittens using his gun.Need we say anymore. Mr. Accorti needs to lose his job immediately!”
In response to a questioner at Facebook who asked what action they are taking beyond raising a discussion on the social network, the SPCA responded: “We have and continue to communicate with the media. … We are in the midst of preparing our formal request for action to the Chief of Police and the Mayor. Additionally, we have made it clear to reporters what Officer Accorti could have done. We believe that Officer Accorti was aware of more humane options for these kittens. Incidently, our volunteer staff is working on numerous cruelty cases at this time. We are also working on an additional complaint that involved another animal in North Ridgeville.”
“The county humane society should have dealt with this not “humane officers” that have actually been hired for animal control. Unfortunately, there are cities and villages everywhere that prefer to trap and kill instead of TNR. We are working on getting help for the mother cat who is still alive.”
Local resident J.N. wrote at the SPCA’s Facebook page, saying “I am neighbors with the family that this happened to. It is COMPLETELY true! What a horrible situation! He pulled a pistol out and shot all of the babies point blank in front this woman and her children (15 feet away).. There IS a better way…Take the kittens away in a cage and handle the situation differently!!!”
The North Ridgeville Police Department took their Facebook page down after an onslaught of negative comments about the incident. It has since been restored, after the police issued a statement on Tuesday and posted it there.
Two local news reports cover the story and give voice to the distress of both individuals and humane organizations over the incident.
This afternoon NRPD issued a statement on the incident today, as follows below:
On 6-10-2013, a resident on Vista Lake Way contacted NRPD on Facebook regarding a “family of cats” that had made a home in their wood pile. The resident went on to ask if the humane officer would pick them up or would they have to deal with the issue themselves. Within twenty minutes NRPD responded back to the resident on Facebook stating that Humane Officer (HO) Accorti would be there shortly.
Upon arrival HO Accorti (who has thirty plus years of law enforcement experience) was shown the wood pile where the feral cats were located. The wood piles were located next to a concrete patio approximately ten feet from the residence. The homeowner advised that the feral cats were causing flea problems within the residence, a foul odor, and leaving deceased wildlife in her yard. The homeowner was advised that due to her safety concerns (proximity of wood pile to house, number of children at the residence, diseases feral cats can develop, fleas, unsanitary conditions) assistance could be rendered but the cats would be euthanized.
The complainant agreed to accept assistance and the officer started to dismantle the wood pile. The cats were located within the wood pile and euthanized. The cats were removed from the wood pile and taken from the residence. The complainant’s husband advised that the mother feral cat had been roaming around for several years and he had tried to remove the feral kittens himself but they would hiss and growl at him. He also advised that he had seen numerous other feral cats roaming the neighborhood.
Upon conducting a follow-up interview with the complainant she stated she was aware that the feral cats were going to be euthanized but did not expect it to occur on her property. The complainant explained she felt overwhelmed due to the fact that her children were inside the residence and heard the gunshots. The complainant urged better communication in the future.
NRPD recognized 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.
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.
We are here to help those who seek our assistance. Our agency prides itself on not telling people, “It’s not our problem or there is nothing that we can do for you.” This would be the easy way out. To walk away and leave a safety issue unresolved is irresponsible. At no time does this agency condone or allow the indiscriminate killing of animals, but we will continue to assist residents when there is a safety or nuisance condition.
The North Ridgeville Police department Facebook page, which was taken down after controversy erupted, has been reactivated.