December 18, 2014

Elyria
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C-T straw poll respondents favor punishment for officer who shot kittens

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — By an overwhelming 4-to-1 margin, people responding to an unscientific Chronicle-Telegram poll asking whether North Ridgeville Humane Officer Barry Accorti should be disciplined for shooting five feral kittens to death said he should face disciplinary measures or be fired.

Of the approximately 577 readers who answered the Chronicle poll in print or at the newspaper’s website, 442 said Accorti should be dismissed or face other action for killing the kittens last week.

Another 135 supported the humane officer’s actions, which have sparked a torrent of opinion, mostly negative, via hundreds of emails from across the country and other nations.

Robert J. McCarrick, of Grafton, was among those who criticized Police Chief Michael Freeman for his open support of Accorti, who was quickly exonerated of any wrongdoing in the June 10 incident.

“Remove him,” McCarrick said. “A chief who supports this action is a problem.”

Some, like one anonymous North Ridgeville resident, used the straw poll to vent their feelings against Accorti. “Accorti was always a bully, known to push people around who could defend themselves the least.”

Among those opposed to Accorti’s shooting of the kittens was Alice Layne, of Grafton, who said “terrible judgment in front of children. Seeing this, why would a child trust a policeman?”

The fiery emotions and anger ignited by the shootings colored many comments such as this: “He should be rewarded. The only good cat is a dead cat.”

“Give him a raise for all the flak he’s taken from the bleeding hearts,” wrote another. “Ask them how they would have handled those filthy cats.”

Some who backed Accorti tinged their strong remarks with humor.

“He should be awarded a medal,” said one. “Cats are like Democrats. There’s way too many.”

“The only good thing (about feral cats) is that coyotes think they are delicious,” said Kenneth E. Phillips, of Wakeman.

About 68 online respondents including Patti Lafollette-Stoker, supported the humane officer.

“It has nothing to do with being heartless,” Lafollette-Stoker said. “The homeowner did not want to pack them up and drop them at a vet so she called for help. This officer was left with one choice and that was to kill them.”

“The fact that they were put down in a backyard is the only thing wrong with this story,” Jeffrey Hansen said.

“The mother wanted the situation resolved and when it was, she didn’t like the resolution,” wrote another.

Many expressed support for trap-neuter-release programs as viable alternatives to killing feral or stray animals.

“It is a compassionate and effective long-term solution,” said one. “No bullets or sick sense of humor required.”

This view was countered by responses such as: “There will never be enough money to shelter all stray cats, and never enough people willing to adopt. As long as there is no torture involved, shooting is humane.”

“I would like to see this much outrage and compassion for humans,” said Rod Horn.

Still others turned their anger on protesters who have held rallies calling for Accorti’s dismissal.

“They need to get a life,” wrote one.

“Those people up in arms never dealt with a feral cat,” Margaret Wilson, of LaGrange, said. “It’s like a tiger caught by the tail.”

A response was offered by John Westfall, who supported disciplinary steps against Accorti while at the same time pointing out his actions may well have been sanctioned by existing policies.

“If policy okays it, unfortunately it clears the officer of any wrongdoing. Seems the police department should have a much better means to euthanize nuisance or dangerous animals,” Westfall said.

According to the department’s policy for handling stray, injured or lost animals, police and humane officers are to proceed “in a humane manner.”

“If the animal is vicious and cannot be captured without injury to the responding unit (officer), or presents a danger to the public, or is suffering from a serious sickness or injury, the officer may use a weapon to destroy the animal,” the policy states.

The bad light in which the entire situation has cast the city was on the mind of one respondent. “Let this stop. The whole country is laughing at us for our carrying on.”

Others took issue with news coverage of the kitten shootings.

“Find some real news,” said one.

“Your coverage was biased and outrageous.” Elyria’s Eileen Weber said. “Shame on you.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.