By Elisa Black-Taylor
This is an update on the North Ridgeville humane officer who is accused of killing five 8-10 week old kittens on June 10, 2013. This article chronicles events beginning on the day the kittens were killed and ending with the Ohio SPCA threatening a lawsuit against North Ridgeville if five conditions aren’t met.
I apologize for the long read, but this is a very complicated case. The developments are interesting. There is outrage from decent people.
HUMANE OFFICER KILLS 5 KITTENS
Five kittens were shot to death by part time North Ridgeville Humane Officer Barry Accorti after being called to a home where a feral mother cat and her kittens had taken up residence in a woodpile by the residence. The resident of the house felt the kittens were bringing fleas into the home, and was also concerned about dead prey being left outside near where her children played.
The woman who placed the call was under the impression Accorti would capture the kittens and take them to the local shelter where they would either be euthanized or adopted out. To her horror, Accorti shot and killed the kittens after telling her they would “go to heaven.” The woman has stated to several news media that one of her children watched the incident from a window overlooking the woodpile. Luckily the mother cat escaped injury.
NO DISCIPLINE WILL BE TAKEN
On Tuesday, June 11, North Ridgeville Police Chief Mike Freeman made an announcement to the press that no disciplinary action would be taken against Officer Barry Accorti. Freeman stated that since the kittens were killed because of “public health” reasons, Accorti was within the law to kill the kittens.
Freeman downplayed the fact that young children were present at the time of the shooting. The truth of the incident was an officer broke several Ohio Codes when he came onto private property and inhumanely euthanized a litter of kittens in a residential neighborhood in the presence of young children.
Officer Barry Accorti was allowed to remain on the job and continues to work for the city of North Ridgeville, despite community outrage.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE OFFICIALS SPEAK AT PACKED TOWN MEETING
A town meeting was held on June 17, when city officials spoke before a packed house. Dozens of residents, as well as animal rights activists who traveled from as far as Washington, D.C. had the chance to address their concerns to Mayor David Gillock and other council members. Gillock expressed outrage at the threats being made against Accorti, as well as other members of the town.
The Ohio SPCA is at the forefront in an effort to see justice served for the five murdered kittens. Teresa Landon, President of the Ohio SPCA (OSPCA) demanded Accorti be removed from his job immediately. Landon presented Mayor Gillock a petition with 37,000 signatures from those outraged by the killings.
Landon threatened North Ridgeville with a lawsuit against the city if action wasn’t taken immediately. North Ridgeville officials considered the case closed at this point.
LAWYER FOR OHIO SPCA OUTLINES DEMANDS
Attorney John Bell has written a letter to Mayor Gillock, North Ridgeville Police Chief Mike Freeman and the law department. News of this spread like wildfire on June 20, as the Ohio SPCA stated in the letter that they were “ready, willing and able” to move forward with a lawsuit if five conditions aren’t met by June 28. Those conditions are:
Those conditions are:
- Stop shooting cats and firing guns on private property
- Adopt policies that prohibit shooting animals except when absolutely necessary to protect life
- Immediately suspend Accorti without pay or benefits, pending any required hearing on his termination
- Charge Accorti criminally with animal cruelty
- Provide documentation of completion of the first four demands to the Ohio SPCA
The letter also provided the Ohio Codes that Humane Officer Barry Accorti allegedly violated by killing the five kittens and therefore should be charged with. They are:
- 959.131(b) Torture, torment, needlessly mutilate or maim, cruelly beat, poison, needlessly kill, or commit an act of cruelty against the companion animal;
- 959.02 No person shall maliciously, or willfully, and without the consent of the owner, kill or injure a horse, mare, foal, filly, jack, mule, sheep, goat, cow, steer, bull, heifer, ass, ox, swine, dog, cat, or other domestic animal that is the property of another. This section does not apply to a licensed veterinarian acting in an official capacity.
- 2923.162 (2) Subject to division (B)(2) of this section, discharge a firearm on a lawn, park, pleasure ground, orchard, or other ground appurtenant to a schoolhouse, church, or inhabited dwelling, the property of another, or a charitable institution
The letter written by Attorney John Bell can be viewed on this page by scrolling down after the article written by another reporter about OSPCA giving the city warning.
Landon summed up the thoughts of all those who are disgusted with this case by saying in the letter:
“We are a nation of animal lovers and the needless killing of cats will not be tolerated.”
While the OSPCA would like to have handled the matter through education and support for trained individuals, they now say nothing less that meeting the five conditions listed above will be accepted. They want Accorti fired, and they want him charged with all of the laws he’s broken.
Gillock referred questions about the Ohio SPCA’s recent letter to city Law Director Andrew Crites.
“The law director is looking at it, he’ll respond to it.”
I would like to add that a concerned parent contacted Lorain County Children Services and received a reply stating:
“With respect to this matter, the parameters and criteria of ‘child abuse, neglect and dependency’ are not met which gives us no authority to “‘investigate'”.
So apparently firing a gun in close proximity to a child, who also witnessed the murder of five kittens isn’t considered as any type of child abuse or child endangerment. This is good information to know for future reference.
The Ohio SPCA also claims to have possession of incriminating evidence showing how Accorti has abused his role in the past as an officer. They will use this evidence, should it become necessary.
As of yet, nothing has been decided and Accorti remains on duty. Mayor Gillock admits there need to be changes to the current method of handling feral cats and are open to suggestions.