Police shootings have been in the news far too often lately, with at least four unarmed men killed in police shootings in the past several weeks alone. Dogs, often beloved family pets, have also been frequent victims of police shootings in recent months.
Now, add a fluffy, lovable cat to the list of police shooting victims, after an officer in Gorham, Maine, blasted a well-liked local stray named Clark with a shotgun because he diagnosed the cat from a distance as having rabies and believed the cat to be a threat of some kind.
But Clark — named after Superman’s alter-ego Clark Kent — did not have rabies, and unlike most of the humans and dogs who have been victims of recent police shooting incidents, the furry feline got away and is now recovering nicely from his wounds at an animal shelter in Westbrook, Maine.
“This is not a typical way for a cat to be brought to us,” Jeana Roth, of the Animal Refuge League shelter, told The Portland Press-Herald newspaper. “We never want to see a situation like this again.”
Standard procedure for a stray cat suspected of carrying rabies is for an animal control officer to trap the cat, then to bring the animal to a municipal shelter where the animal is quarantined and examined by a veterinarian. If the cat is found to be rabid, it may be humanely euthanized. Otherwise, it joins other rescue animals looking for a new home.
Why a police officer showed up and shot the cat is still unexplained. One Humane Society lawyer, Eric Sakach, told the Portland paper that in 38 years of practice, this incident was the first he’s heard of a cop opening fire on a cat suspected of having rabies.
“Animal control officers should be trained and have the equipment to properly trap a cat,” said Sakach, who said he did not understand why a police officer even showed up in the first place.
Clark was well-known in the area as a stray who was once a domestic house cat, but had been callously abandoned by his previous owner.
The shooting took place on August 20, after an animal control officer responded to a call about the cat biting or scratching a seven-year-old girl. But for whatever reason, the animal control officer could not catch the cat — described as “a love bug” and a “dream boy” by Animal Refuge League Executive Director Patsy Murphy — so a police officer arrived and fired his shotgun at Clark, who fled into the woods despite his wounds.
The cat was shot in the leg and may still require surgery, but has since been adopted. The Gorham police department has offered to foot the cat’s vet bills.
Below is a local TV news report on the shooting of Clark the Cat.