By Jacqueline Brown
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE A handful of cat lovers stood outside the Copperas Cove Animal Control Center on Friday protesting the city's euthanization process.
"According to the city ordinance, they're supposed to keep each animal for three days," said Kathy Kwieran, a former volunteer at the center. "Most of the cats don't last 24 hours."
Deputy Police Chief Mike Heintzelman said the ordinance refers to the length of time the owner has to retrieve his or her animal. He cited a provision that allows animal control officers to euthanize an animal immediately if the animal is aggressive and could jeopardize city employees or the public.
The controversy started when a 7-year-old cat named Nu Nu was euthanized after being caught in a neighbor's trap.
"When he didn't come home that night, I called (animal control) the first thing in the morning," said owner Pat Pendleton. She discovered the cat was dead.
Heintzelman said animal control officers felt the cat was dangerous and their first priority is the health and safety of the community.
"I definitely stand firm on what these people did," Heintzelman said. "These people are not required to put their life in danger."
Heintzelman also pointed out that Pendleton was violating at least three ordinances by allowing her unlicensed animal to run at large without a collar.
"Nu Nu firmly believed that cats went outside to go potty," Pendleton said.
She said Nu Nu was not wearing a collar because he had lost his canine teeth in a fight when he was younger and the collar would make him vulnerable.
Kwieran said the city is blaming Pendleton, but if that was the case, animal control officers would have given her a ticket.
"They know they broke their own law and are not willing to admit it," she said. "Instead, the city is backing the criminals and blaming the public for being irresponsible pet owners."
Councilman Fred Harris said the officers' decision not to give Pendleton a citation demonstrated their compassion.
"We felt it was (the) humane thing to do," said Animal Control Supervisor Ernie Lee.
"The lady had suffered enough with the loss of her cat."
Lee said residents can avoid this type of situation if they follow city ordinances, which require all animals to be vaccinated, licensed and to wear a collar with the appropriate tags.
Contact Jacqueline Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org