NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio - A humane officer shot a family of five kittens outside a North Ridgeville house on Monday and the homeowner says her young children saw the whole thing happen.
North Ridgeville humane officer Barry Accorti was dispatched to a house on Vista Lake Way after a resident complained about a family of cats living in her wood pile, police said.
The homeowner said the feral cats were causing a flea problem in her house and that she wanted them removed for the health of her family.
The homeowner and mother of four said Accorti told her the shelters were full and the cats would go to "kitty heaven." That's when he shot the five, 8 to 10-week-old kittens, with the woman standing nearby and her children watching from inside the house.
She said her children, ages 5 months to 7 years, were screaming and crying at the sound of the gunshots. The mother cat ran away and was not killed.
Police said the resident understood the cats would be euthanized, but she said she didn't expect it to happen in her yard. The Ohio SPCA said Accorti discharged his gun about 15 feet from the family's backyard patio.
"NRPD recognizes the concerns of those who believe feral cats should not be killed for simply trying to survive but also acknowledges the risks associated with these animals and the need to manage feral cats. Research and other animal organizations accept shooting as an acceptable means of euthanasia," the North Ridgeville Police Department said.
Police Chief Mike Freeman said that Accorti's actions were appropriate and he will not be disciplined for the incident. He also said they will work with humane officers about improving communications with the public.
A firestorm of feedback over the shooting forced the police department to take down its Facebook page Monday night. The department said while emotions run high, it will not tolerate any threats on its page.
In April 2013, humane officer Accorti rescued a baby great horned owl at South Central Park. The owl was taken to the Bay Nature Center.
North Ridgeville employs two part-time humane officers.
The executive director of the Friendship Animal Protective League in Elyria told NewsChannel5 feral cats are a big problem in Lorain County. Greg Willey suggests trapping, neutering and releasing the cats to better control the wild population.
The general public may call their local spay and neuter clinic for help to trap cats, neuter them and then release them back to into the wild. The cost to spay and neuter a cat is about $30.