Last week we traveled to Houston and Brenham, Texas to offer our guidance and support to these communities after they were pulled into the spotlight by an act of animal cruelty. Before our trip, an Austin County grand jury decided not to charge Kristen Lindsey, a veterinarian who posted a picture of herself on Facebook holding a cat by an arrow through the cat’s head, and bragging about the kill. This decision shocked all of us who have been following this story. Allowing animal cruelty to go unprosecuted doesn’t reflect the law, or the values of our compassionate, animal-loving nation.
Every instance of animal cruelty is horrific and must be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But we know that in our fight against animal cruelty, it’s not enough to address individual cases of cruelty–we have to address the system as whole. Creating communities that value the lives of cats, with policies that work to protect and improve their lives, are critical to making sustainable and lifesaving change for cats. That’s what our visits to Houston and Brenham were about: Valuing the lives of all cats, and working together to make sure local policies reflect those values.
In Houston we hosted a workshop where residents learned how they could help outdoor, community cats in their neighborhood, including advocating for cats in their local government. We were joined by residents and local groups, including our friends with Fort Bend Pets Alive.
In Brenham, we presented a special workshop. In addition to speaking about helping community cats through Trap-Neuter-Return and advocacy, we also talked about anti-cruelty laws and how they relate specifically to cat cruelty cases. All cats–whether they are pet, stray or feral–are protected under anti-cruelty laws. We were joined by our friends at True Blue Animal Rescue, caregivers, advocates, and concerned citizens.
We also held vigils in each city to honor the cat who was killed. The local support has been so strong and passionate, and it didn’t stop there: The outpouring of support online has been amazing, too. Over 30,000 people joined in, participating in the vigil virtually by sharing our posts proclaiming, “I Stand Against Cruelty.”
Together we can make real change in the lives of all cats.