Millcreek Township to investigate case of euthanized cat; 'new information' obtained

·3 min read

Millcreek Township will open an investigation into the actions of its animal control officer who performed an emergency euthanasia on a cat that residents say was neither a threat nor sick.

On Monday, Millcreek Township Supervisor Kim Clear told the Erie Times-News the investigation comes as a result of "new information, statements and videos obtained this weekend."

Millcreek residents,. officials at odds:Millcreek Township residents, officials at odds over euthanizing 'super sweet' cat

Allegations online and from one of the cat's neighborhood caretakers, Candy Weigel, claim the cat was shot by the animal control officer and disposed of in a dumpster.

Clear, however, said she could not confirm this information and insisted it will be part of the investigation.

Weigel said she and others hope to address the matter during the Millcreek Township Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Millcreek Township Municipal Building.

How did this start?

The euthanasia took place on the afternoon of July 29, when a woman in the 3200 block of Berkeley Road contacted the Millcreek Police Department about a stray male cat that had entered her home and refused to leave.

The woman, who asked not to be identified for privacy reasons, told the Times-News the cat looked healthy and was very friendly.

"The cat was super sweet," she said. "He was letting me pet him and hold him the entire time. I also tried to check to see if I saw any fleas or anything on him and I did not notice anything."

Since the Erie Humane Society had been closed that day for cleaning, the woman contacted the police, hoping an animal control officer could transport the cat there.

The animal control officer has keys to access the building, according to the Erie Humane Society.

In a news release Friday, the township stated its animal control officer, Rich Lyall, responded to the home and noticed the cat was host to several parasites and did not have any visible forms of identification.

Lyall used a catch pole to remove the cat from the home, at which point the cat "reacted aggressively and risked the safety of all parties involved," the release stated.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the cat was euthanized in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Animal Destruction Method Authorization Law, specifically out of an interest to public safety and because of the potential for the community spread of rabies and other animal borne diseases," the release continued.

Swift community backlash

While Pennsylvania law allows animal control officers to shoot an animal if they perceive it to be an imminent threat to others, those familiar with the cat — who went by multiple names in the neighborhood, from "Eli," and "Jaqueese" to "Berkeley" — are crying foul.

"We had all seen him in the days before. Every picture and video we have of him, he looks great," said Weigel. "Then, all of a sudden, the animal control officer says he was not worth saving because he looks so bad, and he makes that assessment within a minute."

Weigel, who lives at the corner of Berkeley Road and 34th streets, said she filed a formal complaint Friday against Lyall for animal cruelty.

Her anger was shared.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, more than 2,200 people had signed onto a petition on Change.org to fire Lyall.

Lyall could not be reached for comment on this story.

A.J. Rao can be reached at arao@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNRao.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Millcreek Township to investigate emergency euthanasia of cat