Haze was shot and killed by a police officer after he lay down panting in a neighbor’s yard and someone called the police. Petmom Dori Stone and animal advocates say the city’s policy that allowed this needs to change, and is in violation of state law.
“Something needs to done; if this is common practice it needs to be changed. My husband and I … are just sick. We close our eyes at night and see his little face and to think as good of care we took of him for almost seven years, these were his last moments and that was the way he had to die, it’s unbearable.”
Lebanon OH’s police policy manual allows and seemingly directs officers to kill sick or hurt animals where they are found, to put them out of their misery, and forbids transport of animals in city vehicles. The city does not have an animal officer or animal services department and does not maintain a cooperative arrangement with the local Humane Society.
This policy led to the tragic incident that ended eight year old Haze’s life with a blast to the head, and left his family shocked, stunned and saddened. It also left them determined to speak up and get Lebanon’s animal policy changed.
Animal advocates say the city’s policy conflicts with a section of the Ohio Revised Code that prohibits the killing of domestic animals. Ms. Stone is a legal assistant, and both she and Humane Society of Greater Dayton president Bruce Langos assert that Lebanon’s policy violates this prohibition. Mr. Langos plans to ask the state to investigate the seeming conflict between city policy and state law. A city lawyer and the city manager take the position that Lebanon’s policy does not conflict with the Code, due to the matter of intent, saying, in short, that there is no malicious intent when police kill animals on calls.
City Manager Pat Clements has been quoted as saying “Based on the information I have received, it appears that the officer’s actions were necessary and in compliance with departmental policies.” He continues, “There are currently no local or county agencies equipped to respond to sick or injured stray cats, and our options are limited.”
Haze disappeared on Friday August 19 and did not come home that night, though his pet parents frantically searched the neighborhood calling his name. On Saturday morning, Betty Haslip and her brother in law saw Haze laying in her yard, though they didn’t know him or whose cat he was. Ms. Haslip says she had planned to go knocking on doors but her brother in law called the police without her knowledge and reported Haze as a sick or possibly rabid cat. An unnamed police officer responded to the cat and moments later haze was dead from a gunshot to the head.
Ms. Stone had reported Haze as missing to the Humane Society by the time of the incident and says that a simple call from the officer to the HS could and should have saved her cat’s life. Haze’s family was kept waiting and wondering what had happened until Sunday when Ms. Stone called the police in her efforts to find Haze and was told that police 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. Ms. Stone and her husband found Haze’s body in a garbage can in the alley behind Ms. Haslip’s house.
Though Haze was not wearing tags, he was obviously well fed and well groomed, and thus had to be someone’s pet, according to the Stones.
Ms. Stone says that if Haze was suffering and in distress (and we don’t actually know what his condition was) he deserved to be either treated or humanely euthanized, and if police were not going to help him the Humane Society should have been called. Had the Humane Society been called Haze would have been reunited with his family, and any health concerns would have been addressed by those who knew and loved him.
The Humane Society does not go to pick up pets but will accept them if they are brought to them, so with the HS not p;icking up and the police not delivering, the situation for animals who are discovered to be either lost or in distress is not a good one. The Stone’s petsitter, Cynthia Johnson, says she would like to gather a group of volunteers and work with the city to provide transport when the police receive animal calls.
“We love our cats, do you know what it was like to pull your pet out of the garbage can and then pull him out of the garbage bag and his head is bloody with a bullet hole in it? It’s so violent that they did this to our animal and made no effort to call the humane society or find his owners.”
Public sentiment has been turned toward the adoption of more humane practices toward animals in Lebanon OH since the incident. Hopefully, other places with similar policies will rethink and change their own.