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Editorial: Violence against pets makes community feel less safe

Knowing there’s someone out there willing to do that kind of violence is uncomfortable
Leo, a cat from Maple Bay, had to be euthanized after someone shot him three times in the head with an air gun. (Submitted photo)

It’s a terrible feeling that sticks with you.

Knowing your pet, with whom you spent many wonderful hours, died in pain and terror, and that someone in your own neighbourhood deliberately visited that fate upon them.

Last week we heard about Leo, a cat from Maple Bay that had to be euthanized after being shot in the head three times. Leo spent several days after the wounds were inflicted dragging himself home to his family. If that doesn’t break your heart you need a Grinch-like intervention.

There was further news that a dog was found shot to death in the woods outside Lake Cowichan, leash still attached.

We can only speculate about why Leo was shot, but complaints about cats usually boil down to someone being upset they used a flower bed as a litter box. It can certainly be frustrating, but hardly seems like it should be a capital offence. Wouldn’t it have been enough in such a case to shout at the cat or shoo it until it went away? Those of us who don’t hate animals would probably have made friends with Leo, looking forward to a visit.

This kind of extreme action by someone in a community makes it feel just a little less safe. It doesn’t just apply to pet owners, either, though certainly everyone else in the neighbourhood with a cat or dog is probably giving them some extra hugs and appreciation to ward off the bone deep chill of knowing someone is willing to go to extremes, at best, and at worst is out to get their furry friends.

Knowing there’s someone out there willing to do that kind of violence is uncomfortable, to say the least.

The SPCA advises cat owners to keep them indoors. While this may be practical for some, most cats love the outdoors. We’d also argue that there’s something to be said for having pets around a neighbourhood. It makes it feel friendly and lived in, and what better way to start up a conversation with those you live near? Maybe not everyone can own one themselves, but get to enjoy them in the collective setting. It seems sad that the actions of a few should take that away from everyone.

The person who carried out this cowardly act of torture should be ashamed of themselves. We can only hope that with the publicity, they will feel eyes on them the next time they feel the urge to injure an animal, and remember, perhaps, that their actions have traumatized a family, including a child, who no doubt no longer feel as safe as they used to in their own neighbourhood.