This is a cat story from the United States, specifically Greater Lewis County in Washington. Freddy was an outdoor cat. He was trapped in barbed wire on top of a fence (the barbed wire was illegal, I believe). Freddy’s caretaker was Karen Thorson.
We don’t know why a police officer arrived at the scene but officer Philip Reynolds did. Perhaps someone called the police? It might have ended better if the owner and neighbors had dealt with it.
Officer Reynolds hit the cat on the head with a hammer “multiple times” and killed Freddy. This is according to a witness, Nick Murray, a neighbor of Karen Thorson.
A police officer colleague of Philip Reynolds says that:
“As far as I can tell there was no violation of policy. He did all he could with putting (the cat) out of his misery as quickly as possible, and a firearm just wasn’t an option on this case,” (another police officer says that he was informed that the cat was hit once).
So, it appears, there is a discrepancy between a witness and the police. Who do you believe?
There is no doubt in my mind that the cat was hit with a hammer more than once. That is common sense. There is no police policy for this sort of event in this area. The officer deals with the matter on a case-by-case basis. The big question is could the matter had been dealt with more humanely and more sensibly?
For me, the answer to that question starts with the attitude of the police officer confronted with the problem (and the attitude of the neighbors). If the person places quite a low value on the cat and if the person places a high-value on preventing himself becoming injured in the barbed wire then he is likely to kill the cat there and then.
Freddy’s death was anything but humane. It must have been extremely painful, which I think is worth mentioning. However, the bigger issue is whether he could have been saved.
If any one of the regular visitors to this website including myself was confronted with this matter, I believe, we would have found some way of saving the life of this cat. That highlights the differences in attitude and how it affects the outcome.
We don’t know how badly entangled in the barbed wire the cat was. However, if the police officer could have got hold of a pair of gloves and a wire cutter together with a thick blanket from the neighbors (i.e. involve the neighbors), I think he could have released the cat, without injuring himself. It needed two or three people to extricate Freddy. Of course, there was a risk the cat could have been further injured during the process but that was a risk worth taking, I believe.
The cat may been badly injured (we are told one of his legs looked bad) but the police officer was not in a position to assess injuries incurred by this cat and whether they were life-threatening and therefore, in truth, he was not in a position to decide whether he should “euthanise” this cat.
We can say with some certainty that this is not a case of ‘euthanasia’ but of ‘killing’ because if Freddy was injured but otherwise healthy and if his injuries could have been treated by a veterinarian then he was not in a situation whereby euthanasia was necessary or whereby killing him could be described as euthanasia.
Update: Dawn made this comment:
Freddy was still alive when he was put in the bag to be taken back to the station and thrown away. The officer is a forced rehire. He was fired a number of years ago for excessive force while using a taser, he applied the taser for extensive periods of time deemed unnecessary, and for not assisting calls when he should.
I have a better picture of Freddy and have sent it to Elisa for her to get to you. Freddy was the sibling to my friends cat. The one witness was her roommate. He is the one who saw that Freddy was still alive. Given the officers past issues I believe he took Freddy and “disposed” of him in order to avoid an autopsy being done on him to prove he, the officer, acted without good judgment.
In the state of Washington officers are required to display reasonable prudence when put in the position Officer Reynolds was put in. He clearly did not act with reasonable prudence.
This changes my assessment obviously. Thanks Dawn.
My conclusion is that the policeman was at least equally concerned about his own health as he was about the cat’s, which we have to respect. This is not a clear cut matter because we don’t have the full facts and therefore at this stage we shouldn’t be too critical although for me the policeman behaved badly – update: since writing that I have seen Dawn’s comment above which makes the situation far more clear cut. In order to expedite a resolution of the problem with which he didn’t really like being confronted, he decided to kill the cat in any manner possible, other than with a firearm. I wonder whether he even contemplated saving the cat’s life?
Another sad element of this cat story is that, as Freddy’s owner was unknown at the time his body would have been thrown away in the trash because the police force calls the street department to pick up dead cats who throw them away. That too is worth mentioning because it is not a decent way to deal with someone’s companion animal who was involved in an accident. Why didn’t the owner come forward? Why didn’t the police officer find the owner?