Joplin, Missouri, USA: This is clearly an educated person. Initially I thought that it was hard to tell if the person was man or woman but it appears to be established that this is a woman (in her 60s?). The online newspapers say that it’s a woman who was walking around the area with a stack of papers in her hand. She was careful to conceal her identity with a coronavirus facemask and hood.
The person distributed their letter around the neighbourhood. The document clearly indicates that this person has knowledge of feral cats and of the law. The letter is very carefully crafted because they know that what they are threatening is not animal cruelty because they cite euthanasia as the way they intend to kill the cats. Proper euthanasia is not animal cruelty. Neither would this be theft because she proposes to kill feral cats and they have no owner and therefore it can’t be theft. Lastly, it can’t be criminal damage because a criminal damage charge is normally made against a person who damages someone else’s property. Feral cats are not owned and therefore they are not someone else’s property.
On the face of it, what this person is stating is legal. In the document they state the City of Joplin ordinances with respect of feral cats which makes it clear that people are not allowed to feed feral cats if it causes a nuisance to residents. At the beginning of the document she refers to ‘excessive resident complaints’. So from their perspective the feral cats are causing a nuisance to residents. They are simply taking action in a logical way.
That’s why I say in the title to this article that this person is educated. There’s no question about it. This may help people to find the author of the document. And the neighbours are looking for them. Some people think that she is a community vigilante. However, I feel fairly certain that this is an idle threat for the following reason.
One major problem this person has is ensuring that they distinguish between feral and domestic cats. I’m not sure that they have dealt with this very difficult issue. It’s an issue which constantly creates a barrier in dealing with feral cats because it is very hard to distinguish them from outdoor domestic gas. Sometimes when the cats are being managed under TNR program they are ear tipped which is obviously a clear distinction but sometimes they are not.
For this reason alone I don’t think that this person’s plan is viable. Also, how are they going to euthanise these cats? They are going to have to trap them and that is a very visible activity. And they’re going to have to have access to euthanising drugs which as far as I know are only available to veterinarians. Perhaps the person is a veterinarian? If they are they are risking their careers because if she euthanizes someone’s pet that would be both theft and criminal damage. Two serious crimes which should end their livelihood.
The document was posted on Charlie Brown’s Facebook page. The post is dated 29th of March at 12:22 PM. He said that by 4:30 AM his neighbourhood was “plastered with these notices by this person”. Apparently a woman went up and down the streets telling people that there were going to start killing cats?! This would imply that the person in question is a woman. You can see from Charlie Brown’s Facebook post that it is not absolutely clear what he means.
Charlie Brown offers a $1000 reward for information leading to identifying the person or persons. He also claims that this person or persons “murdered” his cat Mr Kitty and his orange cat. That implies that two of his cats were killed. Well, if that is true then this person has already committed theft and criminal damage. But at this stage there is no hard evidence that what Charlie Brown is saying is true although I’m not disbelieving him.
As usual, the police are investigating and a video by Charlie Brown of a police car patrolling the area has been uploaded to FB. The police are aware of the concerns of the residents and they remind them that there are “proper channels to report these issues such as to the police department or animal control”. That is a gentle reminder to this woman that what they’re doing is wrong.