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Mom: Officer shot kittens in front of my kids

2:06 PM, Jun 12, 2013   |    comments
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NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio (WKYC) -- The Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals wants Humane Officer Barry Accorti fired for allegedly shooting five kittens in a home's back yard on Monday.

OSPCA Executive Director Teresa Landon says Accorti should be fired and charged with five counts of animal cruelty.

Accorti retired as a sergeant with the North Ridgeville Police Department a few years ago and was hired as a part-time humane officer with the department.

Police tell WKYC that Accorti did not work Tuesday, but will be back on Wednesday.

Accorti responded to a home Monday afternoon where a feral mother cat and her five kittens were living in a woodpile.

He allegedly told the homeowner that shelters were full and that the cats would be going to kitty heaven. He then pulled out his gun and shot the five, 8- to 10-week-old kittens.

Accorti allegedly told the homeowner that he isn't supposed to do this, but it was justifiable. The woman ran into the house to shield her children, who were screaming and crying.

City officials tell WKYC that they are looking into what the proper protocol is for such a situation.

Just before 5 p.m., the police chief released a statement regarding the incident:

"On 6-10-2013, a resident on Vista Lake Way contacted NRPD on Facebook regarding a "family of cats" that had made a home in their wood pile. The resident went on to ask if the humane officer would pick them up or would they have to deal with the issue themselves."

"Within twenty minutes NRPD responded back to the resident on Facebook stating that Humane Officer (HO) Accorti would be there shortly. Upon arrival HO Accorti (who has thirty plus years of law enforcement experience) was shown the wood pile where the feral cats were located. The wood piles were located next to a concrete patio approximately ten feet from the residence. The homeowner advised that the feral cats were causing flea problems within the residence, a foul odor, and leaving deceased wildlife in her yard."

"The homeowner was advised that, due to her safety concerns (proximity of wood pile to house, number of children at the residence, diseases feral cats can develop, fleas, unsanitary conditions), assistance could be rendered but the cats would be euthanized. The complainant agreed to accept assistance and the officer started to dismantle the wood pile."

"The cats were located within the wood pile and euthanized. The cats were removed from the wood pile and taken from the residence. The complainant's husband advised that the mother feral cat had been roaming around for several years and he had tried to remove the feral kittens himself but they would hiss and growl at him."

"He also advised that that he had seen numerous other feral cats roaming the neighborhood. Upon conducting a follow-up interview with the complainant she stated she was aware that the feral cats were going to be euthanized but did not expect it to occur on her property. 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."

Just after noon Tuesday, the following was posted on the North Ridgeville Police Department's Facebook Page:

"Obviously, we are aware of the complaint against H.O. Accorti and are looking into it. Our page had to be taken down last night due to the overwhelming abuse. While we understand that emotions run high in this type of incident we absolutely will not tolerate any threats made toward ANYONE on our page. Our followers have always maintained themselves in a respectable and dignified manner ...and I ...hope that this continues."

"We are firm believers in everyone having their right to express their opinions about what we do, even dissenting, but they must maintain a level of common decency.It has been a longstanding policy of our page to delete any comment that gets off topic and that policy will continue. We created this post to give you a place to speak out for or against what is being reported. Please be respectful of others and use the manners that you were all raised with. Thank you"

In the space of two hours, the above-quoted post received 133 comments.

On Wednesday morning, dozens held a rally, upset the police department is backing the humane officer involved in the incident.

Many of those attending the rally Wednesday morning brought their own pets with them. They carried signs, including those asking for harsher penalties for animal abuse. 

"To know that someone who supposedly represents the Humane Society would pull a gun out with children present and kill those innocent kittens is disgusting," said one protester. "And the whole community thinks so, and I'd love to know what the police chief thinks because I know he's hearing from everyone."

Added another: "They're supposed to be our model, our role models. Especially in this instance, when the kids were right in the house. You know, how many other kids were around in that neighborhood? Shooting a firearm off in city limits in a neighborhood. I think that was just really poor judgment."

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