A disturbing trend

Animal control sees spike of abuse cases

Ali, a stray female cat found in Felch, is recovering after her deformed leg had to be amputated. It was determined she had been shot and a bullet fragment caused her painful deformity.

QUINNESEC — The first call came in May, about dead animals being dumped at a boat landing in Loretto.

Deputy Kari Laurent, animal control for the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department, found carcasses of an opossum, raccoons, squirrels — and two cats.

“Someone is trapping nuisance animals and drowning them — and is considering people’s cats as a nuisance,” said Laurent, adding, “drowning an animal is a criminal offense.”

It wasn’t the only such incident as spring became summer — in fact, Laurent said she’s been alarmed at the number of animal mistreatment calls in the past couple months, many targeting cats.

“I patrol every boat landing where I’ve found animals. I’m on it like white on rice, because if they did it once, they are going to do it again,” Laurent said.

Kittens dubbed Cayden and Ajax survived being abandoned in Loretto and are recovering in a local foster home; two likely littermates died.

People regularly call her about cats roaming in the area. Iron Mountain’s ordinance forbid residents from allowing cats “to run at large upon the public streets, walks, parks or other public places within the city unless such cat shall be restrained by a leash or by personally accompanying such cat.” Kingsford and Norway have similar restrictions.

But that doesn’t allow citizens to take control measures into their own hands, Laurent said.

Some of the recent incidents include:

— Two cases of cats being shot. One, a stray found in Felch, had a shoulder wound that led to her leg being amputated. Now in foster care, Ali is expected to recover.

The other, Harold, was not so lucky. Teri Lindstrom had adopted the 8-year-old, black-and-white longhair only three weeks before he managed to slip out of her Niagara, Wis., home.

Harold, an 8-year-old cat, had to be euthanized after being shot in the pelvis.

“He had been gone all night. When he returned, he took two steps and fell right over,” she said. X-rays at the Niagara Animal Hospital showed the cat had been shot in the pelvis, with damage beyond what surgery could repair. He was euthanized in June.

“I’m still in shock,” Lindstrom said. “Harold was great. I couldn’t have ask for a better cat … I can’t believe someone would shoot an innocent animal for no reason. He loved people, and he just wanted to be around people. He was so friendly. I’ve never had one like him before.”

— A good Samaritan sent a private Facebook message to Laurent about seeing young kittens in the parking lot on Sturgeon Dam Road. There, Laurent found an empty box that originally had been taped shut, with air hole punched in the sides, that appeared to have been left out on a harsh 90-plus-degree day with no food and no water.

She set cans of food around the parking lot and waited for more than hour in the heat until a kitten showed up. Live traps eventually caught two kittens, but two others were found dead nearby.

“It’s evil. They were virtually given no shot,” Laurent said, adding, “They were friendly kittens. There were no houses around. They couldn’t have fended for themselves.”

People do have options beyond abandonment or lethal actions, said Diane Luczak of Almost Home Animal Shelter in Quinnesec.

There is no charge to bring stray animals to the shelter, and no charge to retrieve a cat brought to the shelter, Luczak said.

And while there is a small fee for surrendering a pet, Luczak said arrangements can be made if financial problems are an issue — just call the shelter.

Abandoning or killing the animal should never be an option.

“I don’t understand the psyche, the mind of a person that does this. You have choices and you chose to be cruel and walk away, with no feeling, sorrow, empathy. You chose that these animals will either slowly suffer or are going to die,” Luczak said.” There are so many other choices, but you chose to be evil. Bring them to the shelter.”

Laurent hopes the message gets out there are always outlets that can help.

She asks that anyone with information on who dumped the kittens on the Sturgeon Dam Road call 906-774-1005. All tips will remain anonymous.

“Do they know that their kittens died?” Laurent said. “Do they care?”

Laurent recommends setting a trap for nuisance animals, adding she will come and transport the animals to the animal shelter.

“The shelter is here for a reason. Animal control is here for a reason,” Laurent said. “If you have a problem cat and your neighbor won’t listen, call me and I’ll set a trap. Don’t kill them, don’t shoot them.”