Alley Cat Allies sent the following letter on October 24, 2023 to the prosecutor in the case of Nala the cat, who was shot and killed in her Maryland neighborhood while her horrified owner watched. We call for the strictest possible punishment for this heinous act of senseless cruelty and we are offering our assistance in ensuring justice is served.
On behalf of Allies Cat Allies and our more than 38,000 supporters in Maryland, I am writing in support of your prosecution of Ronald Schlotterbeck for the unlawful killing of Nala, a cat. Nala was lying on a branch in a tree when she was brutally shot by Mr. Schlotterbeck as her owner witnessed everything from a nearby yard.
Alley Cat Allies is the leading advocacy organization with a mission to protect and improve the lives of all cats and kittens. Since our founding in 1990, we have worked in communities large and small to develop humane, evidence-based policies for cats and take strong action, including in court, against incidents of cruelty to cats. Our organization and our nearly 1 million supporters appreciate your leadership in addressing this case with the diligence and commitment it deserves.
Ms. Young, Nala’s owner, heard the gunshot and saw Nala fall from a low branch in the tree in Mr. Schlotterbeck’s yard. Nala immediately tried to run for home, mortally wounded and panicked. She slid as she reached the curb because her legs were no longer properly functioning. As Ms. Young rushed to her beloved cat, Nala began flopping on the ground, gasping for breath and bleeding from her mouth. She died in the road, the victim of a senseless shooting. Ms. Young, distraught by what she just witnessed, picked up Nala and took her home. A necropsy later revealed the extent of Nala’s fatal injuries.
Far too often, our judicial system does not adequately recognize the implications of cruelty to animals and, as a result, does not work to ensure the abusers receive a punishment that reflects the severity of the crime. To underestimate the depravity of animal cruelty and the harm it causes is to fail to recognize cats as feeling, sentient beings of inherent value who suffer and feel pain. It is also a grave failure to grasp the role of cruelty to cats in the greater landscape of violence in our society. As you may know, the link between animal cruelty and child abuse, domestic violence, and adverse mental health and community health outcomes is well established, and research has found that violence against animals is predictive of, and often co-occurring with, violence against humans. To protect us all, animals and people, it is critical to enforce our animal cruelty laws.
Mr. Schlotterbeck’s shooting of Nala is tragic and disturbing. Upon initial confrontation, Mr. Schlotterbeck repeatedly denied shooting Nala, even though Ms. Young witnessed the entire horrific incident. When he did finally admit to the officer that he shot Nala, he admitted Nala was “just sitting on a branch.” It is no defense for cruelty to animals that the animal was merely off the owner’s property. In fact, the crime lies in the wrongful killing of the animal and is not related to whether the animal is owned or happens to have rested momentarily in the wrong yard.
While Nala is the known direct victim and deserves justice in her own right, as discussed above, the community at large is also at risk. Animal abuse does not occur in a vacuum and acts of violence toward cats are a public health crisis. Violent perpetrators must be held accountable for their crimes and sentenced with appropriate severity to deter future abusive conduct and enhance community safety.
We support your efforts to pursue animal cruelty charges against Mr. Schlotterbeck and to seek the maximum possible sentence upon conviction.
Alley Cat Allies wishes to offer continued support and assistance to ensure this case concludes in a manner that brings justice to the victim and sets a standard for future investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty.
Alley Cat Allies