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‘Kitty Heaven’: Ohio ‘Humane’ Officer Shoots Five Kittens As Kids Watch, Mom Pleads

June 17, 2013 by  

‘Kitty Heaven’: Ohio ‘Humane’ Officer Shoots Five Kittens As Kids Watch, Mom Pleads
SCREENSHOT
A humane officer shot and killed these five kittens.

A retired police sergeant now working part time as a humane officer for the City of North Ridgeville, Ohio, Police Department was dispatched last Monday to the home of a local couple who’d called to report a litter of feral kittens that had taken up residence in a woodpile in their back yard.

The woman who placed the call said the animals were a nuisance, bringing fleas and dead animals onto her property. Her husband also said the mother cat had been a nuisance for several years, but had grown especially fierce and protective of her litter and resisted his efforts to remove the kittens.

Like most people who call the humane society to remove feral dogs and cats, the couple assumed animal control would simply come and take them, leaving their fate to the vicissitudes of luck at the local shelter. They knew that some form of euthanasia would probably end their lives.

They weren’t expecting Humane Officer Barry Accorti’s brand of euthanasia, though.

Accorti responded at the residence, one of dozens of homes in a densely built subdivision just southwest of Cleveland. The mother and her four children were at home. The kids were upstairs as mom talked with Accorti outside. She told local TV station WKYC:

My heart breaks for my kids, and other kids who have to see this story. He told me the shelters were pretty much full and that they would be going to kitty heaven. My immediate thought was my kids who were upstairs seeing it. My 6-year-old came downstairs, and was crying, “Mommy, Mommy, he shot the kitty.”

The shooting took place right there on the property, just 15 feet away from a house where unprepared kids watched from the windows. The mom originally though the firearm Accorti had gone to his truck to retrieve was a tranquilizer gun. But when Accorti returned with a .22 pistol (not his Glock .45 service pistol) and allegedly told her he “wasn’t supposed to be doing this, but it was justifiable” before heading toward the woodpile, she understood what was going on.

The five 8- to 10-week-old kittens all died, but the mother cat fled.

After massive backlash, North Ridgeville Police Chief Michael Freeman issued a statement on the department’s Facebook page (which, though jammed with complaints and unavailable late in the week, was captured earlier by several online news outlets and humane groups). The statement explains the rationale for Accorti’s actions and finds no fault with them:

…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 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.

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 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.

Shooting feral animals as a means of euthanasia is hardly a philosophical issue or policy quibble for many rural and suburban animal control departments. But doing so in a controlled environment — one in which the property owner and everyone occupying the property are informed and afforded an opportunity to keep a safe distance — is. These weren’t coyotes on someone’s back 40; they were kittens in a woodpile on a small lot in the middle of a dense neighborhood.

Accorti’s failure to offer any explanation for how he would proceed, coupled with the flippancy of his alleged “kitty heaven” remark (and his confession that he was about to step out of line) don’t factor into the department’s justification for his actions.

Accorti took Tuesday off following the shooting, but was back on the job Wednesday.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Rebecca Prewett

    In an environment where murdering unborn babies is acceptable, one can hardly complain when it’s just a litter of nuisance feral kittens. What is wrong with our society? People have lost all sense of morality and all compassion for vulnerable individuals, whether human or otherwise. That the authorities are not even going to reprimand this “humane” officer speaks volumes about the lack of humanity of the police department. I pity the people of North Royalton.

  • Larry

    Nobody’s life was in danger. Shooting at an animal in or around a woodpile close to a home is the act of an idiot. If one or more persons had been injured or killed due to a ricochet would the Animal Control Officer be dispatched with the same attitude that the ACO showed? The ACO is more of a danger to the community than the kittens.

    • strom

      You do not have a clue. First the cats – they are wild and cause a lot of damage. Most will die a sickening death left to fend for themselves.
      Second the gun. A 22 pistol will not endanger someone when shot into a woodpile. He is probably a pretty good shot with 20 plus years of practice. I recommend a sound suppressor be issued with the weapon. No cost to him and the department has the tax stamp.
      Third the kids. They are going to see worse in their lives. I’m sure by now they are over it; if not they won’t get far in life. Life is cozy when you got a free pampered ride. The ride always ends

      • Sue

        To Strom on. I personally think you are an idiot. You have no idea what this is all about do you? It is not about the use of a 22 pistol. It is about the callous act of a so called. ‘humane ‘officer who murdered 5 innocent animals. Its not like they were attacking him. He is a person who should not be wearing any kind of uniform. A person like Accorti should be in jail for cruelty to animals but he will proably get away with this and his supervisor is as bad as he is. As for the kids seeing worse in their lives, maybe. But what Accorti did was unexcusable. And how do you know what kind of life these kids have? You know them? You live with them or close to them? I doubt it. I feel sorry for the people that have to deal with this so called ‘humane’ officer.

        • strom

          Thank you for the recognition sue. I may not agree with you but I would not insult you. That’s a very defensive thing to do. Just to let you know I was in flooded river to rescue a cat for someone once and I have taken in strays even raccoons when their mother was run over. They were cute. I have had to shoot pack dogs that people bought for their kids and humanely thought the dogs would miracuously survive. Rad up on stray dogs packing. They attack people. I have been tracked by mountain lions while night tracking drug mules. How many times have you nursed an animal back to health. I have seen what happens to strays. If you can put your money where you mouth is I yield the floor to you.

          • Sue

            Strom, As for insulting you , your first post was completly without compassion or feeling and I was extremley upset and am still. I believe there was a more humane way to deal with the kittens and I still stand by what I said. I may not have been tracked by mountain lions or battled a raging river to save an animal but how many have I rescued and stayed up nights to save? Well lets start with Misty whos owner was going to ‘put her down’ because she was the runt or maybe the stray that showed up in my yard beaten and starved? Had him for over 10 years. Or maybe the dozens of cats and kittens I have found , nursed back to health or buried because they were to far gone before I found them. Or the dogs I took in because no one else would, or do you want to know about the birds or little mexican grey squir I have found and placed in wildlife reha

          • Sue

            Strom, As for insulting you , your first post was completly without compassion or feeling and I was extremely upset and am still. I believe there was a more humane way to deal with the kittens and I still stand by what I said. I may not have been tracked by mountain lions or battled a raging river to save an animal but how many have I rescued and stayed up nights to save? Well lets start with Misty who’s owner was going to ‘put her down’ because she was the runt or maybe the stray that showed up in my yard beaten and starved? Had him for over 10 years. Maybe the puppy I found in my yard who died in my arms before I could get her to the vet? Or maybe the dozens of cats and kittens I have found , nursed back to health or buried because they were to far gone before I found them. Or the dogs I took in because no one else would, Or do you want to know about the birds or little mexican grey squirrels I have found and placed in wildlife rehabilitators hands. Do I need to go on? We do not agree on the incident we have been ‘discussing’. Never will. I stand by my first post. These were not pack dogs or mountain lions. They were baby kittens. Hardly a danger to the human that killed them.

      • Fred

        These were feral cats. They have a devastating impact on wild birds
        And animals as prey. Everyday we
        Reduce populations of deer, trap and kill other mammals for reason of destruction of other species or plant/wildlife. It’s easy to not understand when you are not an environmentalist or warden. These are not your house cats. They can be very threatening to an ecosystem.

      • http://marinesniper700.wordpress.com marinesniper700

        You are A babbling idiot

  • http://Facebook Kurt b Harlan

    Disgusting , both the officer and the family that allowed it

  • http://Facebook Mary

    He should be fired for putting innocent lives in danger.

  • http://marinesniper700.wordpress.com marinesniper700

    This former police officer, now kitten executioner is why people do not trust law enforcement. This coward might not be judged now, but will be judged in a higher court someday. I am just glad that I don’t live in Ohio!

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