An Ohio policeman shot to death a litter of kittens on Wednesday, telling a group of screaming children that the animals would be going to “kitty heaven”. But instead of firing the officer, the local police department cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Humane Officer Barry Accorti was responding to a report of a litter of feral cats that were located in the woodpile of a home in North Ridgeville on June 10. The resident who made the call said the cats were bringing fleas to the home and leaving dead wildlife in her backyard. Twenty minutes after the call was made, the officer arrived at the scene. After spotting the five kittens, he told the resident’s distressed children that the cats would be going to heaven. Shortly thereafter, he took a gun from his vehicle and shot the animals to death.
“He informed [the resident] that shelters were full and that these cats would be going to kitty heaven,” Ohio SPCA Director Teresa Landon told the Cleveland Sun News. “She assumed he would be trapping them or something and taking them to a shelter and they would be humanely euthanized if they were not adopted.”
Initially, the woman who made the call assumed that the gun was a tranquilizer. But to her surprise, the 8-to-10 week-old kittens were shot dead, just 15 feet from the back door to her house.
“She was very distraught when this happened,” Landon said. “He started shooting them right in front of her. Her children were upstairs in view of the windows. They started screaming and crying because they heard the gunshots. They started screaming, ‘Mommy, he’s killing the kittens.’”
The homeowner’s four children are all between the ages of 5 months and 7 years.
Landon told the Sun News that the incident is heartbreaking and inexcusable, and that a humane officer should never resort to using a weapon unless the animal is in severe pain or attacking the officer.
Landon said that Accorti should be fired and charged with animal cruelty. But instead, Police Chief Mike Freeman cleared the officer of any wrongdoings and concluded that his actions were appropriate.
“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,” Freeman wrote in a press release, describing the cats as having been “euthanized”. He also stated that research and animal organizations perceive shooting as a humane form of euthanasia. But Landon still believes the officer should be prosecuted
“The kittens were just sitting there,” she told The Morning Journal. “They didn’t have to die. They were only 10 months old at most and they still could have been socialized.”