Dori and Randall Stone are devastated after a police officer shot their cat in the head and are now determined to get Lebanon’s policies regarding injured or stray animals changed. Haze went missing last Friday and by Sunday he still hadn’t come home. They frantically searched their neighbourhood, calling his name, because he never went far the times he left their yard. Little did they know that at around 1 p.m. on Saturday a Lebanon, Oregon, police officer, answering an animal complaint call from a neighbour’s relative, shot Haze in the head and the relative stuffed him in the garbage.
“Something needs to done, if this is common practice it needs to be changed,” Dori Stone said. “My husband and I have not eaten since Sunday morning. We are just sick. We close our eyes at night and see his little face and to think as good of care we took of him for almost seven years, these were his last moments and that was the way he had to die, it’s unbearable.” She said she went to the police station on Sunday and was told a cat had been euthanized on Saturday. She rushed over to a neighbour’s house and found Haze in a trash bag under some branches. “We love our cats, do you know what it was like to pull your pet out of the garbage can and then pull him out of the garbage bag and his head is bloody with a bullet hole in it?” she said. “It’s so violent that they did this to our animal and made no effort to call the humane society or find his owners.”
City Manager Pat Clements said the police officer was following policy, and that animal cruelty laws don’t apply because it’s a matter of health, safety and welfare of the community. “Based on the information I have received, it appears that the officer’s actions were necessary and in compliance with departmental policies,” he said. “There are currently no local or county agencies equipped to respond to sick or injured stray cats, and our options are limited.” Clements said he understands that people in the community would be upset over the death of a pet, but that the officer who responded had no way of knowing the animal was a pet and not feral because it had no tags.
Stone said she was told Haze appeared to be hurt or ill and her neighbour had planned to knock on doors to see if the cat had an owner nearby, but that her brother-in-law called police. According to a police incident summary, the caller said the cat was a stray and that he was fearful the cat had rabies. The animal was panting, did not respond the officer’s presence, and the officer felt the cat was suffering and in distress, according to the report summary. The police policy manual states that the animal will be destroyed where it is located if it is safe to do so and under no circumstances is an officer to transport the animal in a city vehicle.
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