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Press Release

For Immediate Release: November 30, 2011
Contact: ALISON GRASHEIM, agrasheim@alleycat.org or (202) 240-1985; FRANCIE ISRAELI, fisraeli@johnadams.com or (202) 207-1134

ALLEY CAT ALLIES CONDEMNS VIOLENT DEATH OF CAT BY HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA POLICE OFFICER
Urges mayor to dismiss officer, and prosecute case for animal cruelty

BETHESDA, MD— Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, today appealed to Richard Baugh, mayor of the city of Harrisonburg, Va., to dismiss a city police officer who violently killed a local cat by beating the cat to death with a baton—a violation of both police department policy and Virginia Commonwealth law. Alley Cat Allies also urged criminal prosecution of the officer.

In a letter to Mayor Baugh, Alley Cat Allies president Becky Robinson writes that “the beating is beyond any law enforcement officer’s responsible behavior and constitutes a clear case of animal cruelty. We urge the City of Harrisonburg to dismiss the officer and to refer the case to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for prosecution.”

According to news reports, the officer responded to a report of a cat hit by a car near a local residence, and then beat the cat to death with “at least 15-20 hits” of his baton. The officer violated police department policy by not attempting to ascertain ownership before killing the cat, using deadly force against the cat as a first option, and failing to explore any alternatives before violently beating the cat.

“It does not appear that the officer attempted to contact a local veterinarian, an animal control officer, or the local humane society to see if he could deliver the cat for emergency care. It is certainly possible the cat’s injuries were treatable. Instead, it appears killing the cat was the officer’s first choice; not, as the rules require, a last resort,” Robinson wrote.

Robinson further noted that the extremely brutal nature of the killing “constituted a clear case of animal cruelty…It is no defense that the animal was injured or that it was a police officer who beat the cat.” She noted that under Virginia law, a death is considered “euthanasia” only if the animal is “instantaneously” unconscious or under anesthesia.

Alley Cat Allies said it would press the mayor’s office for action and continue to monitor developments in the case.

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About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has more than 260,000 supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities, and organizations save and improve the lives of millions of cats and kittens nationwide. Their web site is www.alleycat.org.