A US police humane officer has shot and killed a family of stray kittens as a mother and her young children watched in horror.
The mother-of-four, who did not wish to be identified, said she contacted police to report the cats living inside a woodpile in her backyard in North Ridgeville Ohio on June 9 because the mother cat was aggressive and she feared it would hurt her children.
She told WKYC.com when Humane Officer Barry Accorti arrived at her home he told her all the animal shelters were full and the cats "would be going to kitty heaven".
He then pulled out his gun and promptly shot the five kittens, which were around eight-weeks-old, at point blank range while her children watched from an upstairs window.
The mother said she was horrified knowing her children had witnessed the brutal act.
"My six-year-old came downstairs and was crying mummy, mummy, he shot the kitty!" she said.
North Ridgeville Police Department posted a statement on Facebook from Commander Michael Freeman after the incident saying officer Accorti, who has more than 30 years experience in the police force, had told the mother the cats would be euthanised.
"Upon conducting a follow-up interview with the complainant she stated she was aware that the feral cats were going to be euthanised but did not expect it to occur on her property," Commander Freeman said.
"The complainant explained she felt overwhelmed due to the fact that her children were inside the residence and heard the gunshots."
Commander Freeman said that after talking with the mother and officer Accorti he decided the officer's actions were appropriate and no disciplinary action would be taken.
"We will talk with the humane officers about improving their communications with the public," he said.
Chief Freeman added that the department in no way condoned the "indiscriminate killing of animals" but would continue to assist residents when they complained of a safety issue or nuisance.
The statement prompted a flood of responses from people criticising the officer's actions.
One Facebook user alleged North Ridgeville police had censored critical comments, saying, "All 1,000 posts were taken down from yesterday???? Why????? Is it because 99 percent of the people who commented DISAGREE with the chiefs decision?"
The Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is now calling for officer Accorti to be fired.
Author: Alys Francis. Approving editor: Matthew Henry.