“Rowdy” — the kitten pictured above — was shot to death by North Carolina state trooper Shawn Houston who was subsequently dismissed from his job. He claims he was treated unfairly and deserves his job back.
According to court records, Houston said he was bothered by something climbing on his vehicles at home. He had also caught a glimpse of “an unknown animal” that jumped out at him “during the hours of darkness.”
Claiming that he was concerned for the safety of his three young sons, Houston baited a steel trap with ham and captured a small domestic cat. When he tried to remove the animal, which did not have tags, he scratched him. So Houston killed Rowdy — while the kitten was trapped within the cage.
The summary that Houston filed states, “The Petitioner did not know if the cat had rabies or any other disease. The cat was hissing and growling at Petitioner and Petitioner shot the cat.”
Rowdy was neighbor Andrea Evans’ kitten. The orange and white tabby was a birthday present to her son.
Houston’s tale of a wild and scary beast doesn’t match the demeanor of the dearly departed Rowdy, she said.
“He was really very sweet,” Evans said. “He was never aggressive, even at the vet.”
Rowdy was kept inside the house during the night, but allowed outdoors to play in the morning. The families reside in a rural area, miles from the nearest stoplight. According to Evans, the neighbors mostly kept to themselves.
When Rowdy didn’t come home, the Evans family searched the neighborhood. When they discovered what Houston had done, Evans called the Sheriff’s Department.
A deputy responded and interviewed the off-duty trooper. At the conclusion of the interview, he told Evans there wasn’t much he could do.
So Evans met with a county magistrate, who issued a criminal summons against the trooper on the two misdemeanor charges.
Evans testified against the trooper at his December trial.
She said Houston’s sons had played with Rowdy, and she doubts his story that he mistook the cat for a stray.
“We played with him out in the yard every day,” Evans said. “I don’t know how he could have missed it.”
Records show District Court Judge Carlton Terry Jr. granted Houston a prayer for judgment continued, a legal finding of guilt that does not impose any penalty. The trooper paid $125 in court costs.
The state Highway Patrol dismissed Houston on Jan. 22, according to state records. Houston’s appeal is tentatively scheduled for August.
Evans said they got the dead kitten back from Houston the day of the shooting but have had little interaction with him since. The children of the two families no longer play together.
Rowdy was buried by his family in a modest funeral. To this day, she said, Houston has not apologized.
“It’s been rough on us, it really has been,” she said.
Click here to sign a petition objecting to the reinstatement of Officer Houston.