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Grand jury’s refusal to prosecute: A lack of compassion for cats

All cats' lives matterChances are if you even dabble in social media, you’ve read about the case of Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey. A wildly disturbing photo of Lindsey quickly made the rounds, showing the young woman holding up a cat with an arrow through his head. The caption on the photo made it clear who wanted credit for the kill — Lindsey herself.
My first bow kill, LOL. The only good tomcat is one with an arrow through its head. The vet of the year award, gladly accepted.”

For obvious reasons, we won’t be sharing the photo here. It was beyond grotesque — the kind of chilling photo that stays with you long after you see it. How can a human being (and a veterinarian to boot) commit such a cruel act? While the woman believed she killed a feral cat, Internet sleuths quickly made the connection to a missing owned cat named Tiger from the same area. Regardless, such disregard for life should not go unpunished.

The social media backlash was swift, which is what usually happens in these cases. Calls for her to be fired came from around the world, and her employer agreed. Lindsey was dismissed. The clinic in Texas immediately denounced the act and distanced itself from the former employee. The next step for the (rightfully) angry online mob was to see Lindsey prosecuted for cruelty. The evidence was so plainly obvious that it seemed like a slam dunk. But not so fast! Just this week, a Texas grand jury declined to indict her on animal cruelty charges.

The three main points for the grand jury’s decision are bizarre and defy logic for even the most casual observer of the case. The grand jury said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that it was impossible to determine if the killing actually took place in Texas; that the identity of the cat could not be corroborated; and (maybe the most disturbing aspect of the case) that shooting a cat with an arrow might not be cruel since it’s impossible to know if the cat suffered.

Whether or not the cat was actually Tiger, the missing cat from the neighborhood, should be entirely irrelevant. A cat is a cat, and which cat this was should hardly matter. Shooting any cat (feral or otherwise) with an arrow and gloating about it is barbaric and should always be considered animal cruelty. And while we can hope that the cat shot with the arrow didn’t suffer, the fact that the cat was killed without cause should have been all that the grand jury needed.

There are so many wonderful things happening for animals around the U.S. Just this week, San Diego, the eighth largest city in the country, declared its intent to go no-kill. Following in the footsteps of other municipalities around the country (including L.A., where Best Friends leads the NKLA initiative), this is great news for the animals, indeed. But Kristen Lindsey’s case is a stark reminder that we have, in so many ways, a long way to go in how we relate to animals as a society.

Next up, according to media reports, is a Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME) review for Lindsey, in which the board will determine if she can keep her veterinary license. Here’s hoping that the TBVME sees this incident for what it was — a senseless killing that shouldn’t be glossed over, especially when it’s committed by someone who should be protecting our pets and other animals.

Please consider heading over to the TBVME Facebook page and leaving a comment. Politely let them know that you don’t believe someone with a history like Lindsey should be charged with caring for pets. We can only hope some pressure on the TBVME causes the board to do the right thing by taking away the license of someone who has an obvious track record of being so callous toward animals.
Francis Battista, Co-founder, Best Friends Animal Society Francis Battista
Co-founder
Best Friends Animal Society