Rich Square native calls for end to animal abuse

The pictures tell the story: Photo after photo showing cats with blood-encrusted wounds, the hair burnt from their bodies in small, circular-shaped patterns. In one of the more graphic items, a lifeless, yellow tabby is splayed on a white trash bag, the mouth held open to show the internal damage which caused its death.
The cat in the photo once belonged to Myrna Perry, who for the last three years has been documenting what she believes to be the systematic killing of stray and domesticated cats in the neighborhood surrounding her home on Jackson Street in Rich Square.
“I like animals,” Perry said recently, discussing the incidents. “ I want the shooting stopped.”
Perry claims the animals are being injured by high-powered air rifles. Some of them, she said, are lured into the crosshairs with food. Since the shootings started three years ago, three of her own cats have been killed.
Though Perry believes she knows who is responsible, she has no direct proof linking anyone to the animal abuse, a situation which has left her both frustrated and scared. “It’s a lot of stress to live under. You walk out the door and you don’t know if someone’s going to shoot. I don’t have an answer.”
Asked why she believes the cats are being targeted, Perry offered a simple explanation. “They’re just mean people.”
Having spoken to Northampton County Animal Cruelty Investigator Karen Cole and Rich Square Police Chief A.B. Roye, Perry believes her complaints have yet to be taken seriously. “The county officials are not doing their jobs,” she said. “I showed them surveillance tapes I made, but they haven’t done anything. I don’t know where to go. The police chief showed me the ordinance that says you can’t shoot in town. If these people can’t uphold the law, they don’t need the job, let them go do something else.”
Reached for comment, both Cole and Roye said they have investigated Perry’s allegations, but due to insufficient evidence, they are unable to bring charges against the suspected parties. “I wish I could do something for her, I really do,” said Cole. “I’ve seen the cats and they probably are getting shot, but without evidence of who’s doing it, what can I do?”
Cole said the images she viewed on the surveillance tape were inconclusive. “You can see someone shooting but you can’t see who it is or what they’re shooting at. Without evidence there’s no reason to take this to court and tie up the system.”
“There’s no proof they’re shooting cats,” stated Roye. “She showed me some pictures, but I couldn’t say for certain they were shot, it could have been dogs. We’ve done surveillance, she’s done surveillance. She wants me to be Superman and pull evidence out of my hat, but I can’t prosecute without probable cause.”
While the stray cat population has become an increasing problem in the area, both Cole and Royce agreed that harming the animals is no solution. “The cats are breeding, they’re wild, they’re just too many of them,” said Cole. “She (Perry) could take out a cruelty to animals warrant just as easily as I could. I agree, they shouldn’t be shot like that.”
Cole said, ultimately, responsibility for dealing with the incidents falls to local authorities, not the county. “We went before the town board a month ago and told them this is their problem, this falls within the city’s jurisdiction.”
For now, Perry said she sees little hope of resolving the situation. “I’m not the law; I can’t do anything. The chief told me he was going to try to get PETA in here, and I hope he does. These people just deny everything and then, once the police are gone, they start shooting again.”
By bringing the shootings to light, Perry said she hopes to at least shame the culprits into complying with the law. “I want public opinion to take care of this. I’m an animal lover and this is no way to treat an animal.”

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