A resident of Kalispell, Montana (or somewhere in the jurisdiction of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office) telephoned the police to tell them that his neighbour had shot his cat and that the same person might have shot another neighbour’s cat. It appears that the neighbourhood has a trigger-happy resident who doesn’t like domestic and stray cats and believes that he has the right to shoot them dead at his discretion if they wander onto his property.
The Daily Inter Lake online newspaper based in Kalispell, Montana reports that the man with a gun was advised by the police that there are ‘alternative ways to handle cats that wander onto his property’.
And that was that. The report clearly indicates that it is not a crime to shoot dead a domestic cat that wanders onto your property or that it is crime but the police aren’t bothered about it.
There is nothing online from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks that tells me that it is acceptable to shoot cats under these circumstances. Dogs can be shot by authorised personnel if the dogs are harassing wildlife.
My research tells me that there are no statutes in America allowing home owners to shoot their neighbour’s cat if they come onto their property. As the sheriff rightly said there are alternative methods.
The troubling aspect of the story is that the Flathead County police appear to have decided that it is not worth the bother to investigate the cat shooting which must be the crime of criminal damage (when the cat is owned by someone) and almost certainly animal cruelty as well.
Under Montana’s statute: MCA § 45-6-101, a person commits the offense of criminal mischief if the person knowingly or purposely injuries, damages, or destroys any property of another or public property without consent. Domestic cats are considered property under the law.
What are the consequences? When minor crime is ignored by the police it can encourage major crime. The cat owner has been told in effect that he can’t have a cat companion unless he keeps them inside the home because if and when he gets a replacement that cat might be shot as well. By not investigating the crime the police are changing the law.
Note: this is a news/opinion article. If you have a different opinion please tell me but make it polite and well reasoned please.
SOME PAGES ON CRIMES: