Watch Tip: Neighbors Shooting Animals

Posted on June 5th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Weekly Watch Tip for week of June 6:

Watch out for pets in your neighborhood if you know of a neighbor who will kill any dogs or cats trespassing in his yard, or will shoot at wildlife and mistakenly hit pets. Talk to all neighbors with pets. If you are not completely certain which neighbor is the perpetrator, do not mention names. Instead, talk about locations where dead animals have been found, or where the shot was heard. Finally, urge owners of injured or killed pets to notify the authorities and pursue justice.

Put the neighborhood on alert if pets are being killed

I received a message from an old family friend several weeks ago. My friend’s sister had urgently called him because their beloved chocolate lab girl had been shot by a neighbor. She was rushed to an emergency vet clinic for treatment and ultimately survived. How did this happen? The neighbor had been trying to eradicate coyotes and apparently mistook the brown dog for a coyote in the waning afternoon light. The dog had been freely roaming the neighborhood as was customary in that area. (Yes, roaming is a practice that is very risky and violates local ordinances in many communities.)

Not long ago I visited my pet food shop and my favorite resident dog was missing. I always enjoyed socializing with Tigger. I asked about him and was told that he had been mysteriously killed in an open field next to his neighborhood by a single bullet. I called a few days later to find out any news about the killer and there was no news. His killer was never discovered.

A  friend told me about one of her cats who weakly crawled home dragging his front leg. He had been shot. His leg was amputated and he survived. Another of her cats had disappeared months earlier, never to be seen again. My friend suspected a neighbor had shot both cats but couldn’t find evidence.

If you suspect that dogs or cats are being killed in your neighborhood, what should you do?

First, collect accurate information from animal owners. Be an amateur detective. Concentrate on facts. Write down dates, locations, and all observable details about every incident. Share these details with law enforcement.

Talk to your neighbors about the facts you have collected, so they can take steps to protect their companion animals. Do not accuse anyone in particular. Concentrate on dates, locations, and details—not people. Remember, defamation of character charges (slander or libel) can change your life dramatically. Adhere strictly to truthful and defensible details.

If you suspect or know the perpetrator, don’t challenge him or her directly. Let law enforcement follow up.  When the perpetrator learns that neighbors are watching him closely, he probably will reduce or even halt his practice of shooting animals. But be watchful always; he just might switch to poisons.

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