On Friday, West Seneca, NY judge Richard B. Scott ruled that animal control officer Frederick S. Grasso (right) was justified when he gunned down a mother cat and two of her kittens at an apartment complex last June. (Four other kittens were unharmed and have since been adopted.)
According to testimony, the apartment manager saw the mother cat hissing and spitting in the basement of the complex and sought help from the SPCA but was turned down. Animal control was called, and Grasso responded. Grasso testified that the three cats came at him, hissing and spitting. He went back to his vehicle, grabbed his rifle and shot the cats.
According to Judge Scott, Grasso took action he deemed necessary and shot three cats. At that time and place, the animal control officer had to make a decision. The court feels no crime was committed. The community might think shooting three cats sounds terrible in and of itself. . . . I agree it sounds terrible, in and of itself. But shooting the cats violated nothing.
Grasso faced two unclassified misdemeanor charges for allegedly violating the states Agriculture and Markets Law. The first count charged him with cruelty to animals and the other alleged he euthanized a dog or cat by gunshot. Scott quickly dismissed the euthanasia charge, saying, “No place in the testimony here has anyone alleged or argued that the killing of these cats was a mercy killing. In fact [it is] quite to the contrary.
According to Scott, for Grasso to be convicted of the cruelty charge, he would have to have acted unjustifiably in the shooting of the cats. (Excuse me, judge, but how can you justify gunning down kittens? What threat could they possibly have posed?)
Conflicting testimony in the nonjury trial held earlier this month presented widely varying accounts of the incident. Scott said while testimony from the six prosecution witnesses and three defense witnesses may have been truthful, there was no evidence that Grasso broke the law. “As happens in all cases, people see things differently,” said Scott.
Barbara S. Carr, executive director of the Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said she was “extremely disappointed” by Scotts decision. “This mother cat and kittens were domestic cats that were just shot by Officer Grasso,” Carr said. “It appears as if you are a government official, you can do things that other people cant do.”
Grasso’s attorney, Arcangelo J. Petricca, called Scotts ruling the only fair verdict based on the facts of the case. Petricca called his client an animal lover himself who is also a cat owner and who doesnt destroy animals unfairly or unjustly.
Am I the only one who thinks this guy should not be an animal control officer … or be allowed to carry firearms? If you were the judge, how would you have ruled?