The Harrisonburg Police Department is reviewing its policy for handling animal complaints after an officer euthanized an injured cat by beating it with his baton.
The department said in a statement this week that it conducted an internal investigation and took appropriate actions. Police spokeswoman Mary-Hope Vass declined to say whether the officer was disciplined.
Wayne Meadows, 28, of Harrisonburg, told The Daily News-Record that a car hit the cat on Nov. 11. He took the injured animal home and called Harrisonburg authorities. An officer who responded told Meadows there were two options: Let the cat suffer and die or euthanize it.
Meadows said he chose euthanization and expected the cat would be shot.
“I told the officer I didn't have the stomach or nerves to put an animal down,” he said. “The officer said he would take care of it. I went inside and braced to hear a shot.”
Instead, he looked out the window and saw the officer drawing his baton. He said he went to the kitchen so he wouldn't see what was about to happen. He estimated that the officer struck the cat 15 to 20 times.
“I cringed at every single hit,” Meadows said. “I had tears in my eyes by the time it was done.”
The officer then knocked on the door. Meadows opened it and saw the dead cat lying on the sidewalk. He said blood was everywhere, and the siding of his home was damaged. The officer told Meadows to call the police department to take care of the damage and left, taking the dead cat with him but leaving Meadows to clean up the rest.
“I had to leave the house for the night because I couldn't even stand to look at the house or front door,” he said.