No charges against Texas veterinarian in cat’s death

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A Brenham, Texas, veterinarian who allegedly boasted on Facebook about shooting a cat through the head with an arrow will not be charged with animal cruelty.

An Austin County, Texas, grand jury found insufficient evidence to charge Dr. Kristen E. Lindsey with a crime, the Austin County District Attorney’s Office announced June 24. The DA said sheriff’s investigators lacked probable cause to obtain a search warrant because they couldn’t determine where or when the incident occurred. Subpoenas to Facebook failed to produce usable evidence because Dr. Lindsey’s Facebook account had been deleted.

Grand Jury Room door“Without more information, the State lacks proof that this incident even occurred in the state of Texas,” the DA said, adding that hunting stray cats is legal in some states.

A photo posted on Dr. Lindsey’s Facebook page on April 17 showed what appeared to be the veterinarian holding a dead cat with an arrow through its head. “My first bow kill lol,” the post read. “The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s head! Vet of the year award … gladly accepted.”

The image immediately went viral, sparking outrage and condemnation. A short time later, Dr. Lindsey was fired from the Washington Animal Clinic in Brenham. “We are absolutely appalled, shocked, upset, and disgusted by the conduct. We have parted ways with Ms. Lindsey. We do not allow such conduct and we condemn it in the strongest possible manner,” the clinic said in a statement.

The AVMA was “shocked and appalled when we saw this image,” the Association announced, promising its Judicial Council would review the complaints against Dr. Lindsey. The council investigates allegations of unethical conduct of AVMA members and can take action up to, and including, dismissal from the Association. The matter was under review by the Judicial Council at press time in July.

Efforts to contact Dr. Lindsey were unsuccessful.

The DA explained in a press release that if it could be proved the incident did occur in Texas, then it would be up to prosecutors to show the defendant killed the cat in a cruel manner or without the cat’s owner’s consent. The AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, the DA continued, state a gunshot or bolt to the animal’s head can provide a humane death when performed correctly.

This prompted a response from the AVMA, which explained the Association was neither consulted on the case nor aware the guidelines were being consulted. “Based on the statements in the press release, the District Attorney’s application of the Euthanasia Guidelines was seriously flawed. An arrow is neither a captive bolt nor a gunshot,” the AVMA said.

“Use of a bow and arrow is not addressed when discussing recommended approaches for the euthanasia of cats,” the AVMA continued. “Based on the image attributed to Dr. Lindsey and shared on social media, we cannot determine if the cat died immediately.”

Investigators were unable to confirm the cat’s identity from the online photo, the DA said. Although one witness believed the cat was a pet named Tiger, three area residents reported they had fed similar-looking stray cats with no collar, according to the DA.

Whether Dr. Lindsey retains her veterinary license, the DA added, is solely the decision of the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. The TBVME could not be reached for comment.