Pets under fire
Last updated 5/5/2021 at 9:18am
Security-Widefield pet owners are working hard to keep their pets safe after a series of incidents involving cats being shot at with BB or pellet guns in recent weeks. One community flier passed around described the first incident: a pet cat being shot on or around April 4 in the Widefield High School/ Venetucci Elementary/Watson Junior High School area.
One concerned resident (who wished to remain anonymous) has been collecting information about the pellet gun shootings, which she said have happened multiple times in the last year. The closest anyone has gotten to information about the assailants is that one of the incidents involved teenagers. The current wave of incidents has grown in area, covering multiple neighborhoods.
“It’s grown into an area pretty much from Widefield Park to Lowe’s,” the resident said.
While some locals have questioned why pet owners can’t just keep their cats indoors or on their property to avoid this problem, the resident pointed out this doesn’t change the legality of the behavior and the threat involved.
“There are outdoor cats, there are horses outside city limits, even if it’s just wild game that still doesn’t excuse the behavior,” she said.
It’s also worth noting that so far, pet owners have only discovered their pets were harmed later, after the shootings took place and they found fresh wounds on the pets with pellets inside. One such cat was found with a pellet stuck in its belly, which indicates it was likely shot at from below when the cat was in a tree. This means that pet owners have no idea where the shootings are taking place, and while letting a pet out into a backyard should be safe, there are no guarantees. The resident also pointed out that these situations can easily escalate, which could result in children being hit by pellets.
At present, the state of Colorado’s criminal code (leg.colorado.gov/colorado-revised-statutes) lists cruelty to animals as a class 1 misdemeanor for the first conviction, which carries a mandatory fine of at least $500, plus any restitution and other actions (such as being required to complete an anger management course) that the court rules. A second conviction is a class 6 felony and a mandatory fine of at least $1,000. However, depending on the circumstances, someone could be found guilty of committing a felony on their first animal cruelty conviction.
Gretchen Pressley, the community relations manager for the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR), gave her thoughts on what charges would be brought against someone shooting pets with a pellet gun.
“It would likely be a felony cruelty charge, depending on the facts uncovered during the investigation,” Pressley said.
If you witness anyone shooting pets with pellet guns or have any information on the matter, contact the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region by calling 719-302-8798.
Residents can call this same number if they witness other incidents of animal abuse or neglect, or to report animals left inside vehicles. Written reports of abuse may be submitted online at hsppr.org/law.