A Texas veterinarian will not face animal cruelty charges for shooting a cat through the head with a bow and arrow and then bragging about her kill in a Facebook post.
Kristen Lindsey, 31, posted a photo of herself in April holding the slain cat by the arrow she shot it with and said in the caption, “My first bow kill (cat smiley face) lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s head! Vet of the year award…gladly accepted.”
The Austin County District Attorney announced Wednesday that a Grand Jury failed to indict the Brenham woman, because there was insufficient proof she committed a crime.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Witness Said Lindsey Was Trying to Protect Her Animals From the Cat Because It Was Rabid
District Attorney Travis Koehn said in the press release that they received information from “one unsworn hearsay report that Lindsey may have acted to protect her pets from a potentially rabid stray cat in Austin County.”
Police have not said if Lindsey was interviewed by investigators.
Koehn said investigators with the Austin County Sheriff’s Office were not able to confirm where or when the incident took place. He said “the officers lacked probable cause to obtain a search warrant for any Austin County properties in this matter.”
According to Texas law, protecting pets from attack is a defense to an animal cruelty charge, Koehn said.
Koehn said investigators weren’t able to confirm the identity of the cat seen in the Facebook photo. While claims were made by Lindsey and another witness that the cat was feral and rabid, others claimed it was a cat named Tiger, who was friendly and a fixture in the neighborhood.
“He loved everybody, he loved everything. He always greeted me, he was my protector out on the farm,” Amy Hemsell, who often acted as Tiger’s caretaker, told KBTX.
Hemsell posted a video of Tiger riding a tractor on her YouTube page:
Koehn said investigators were also not able to obtain any information from Facebook, because Lindsey’s account was deleted the same day police were made aware of the post.
“Without more information, the State lacks proof that this incident even occurred in the state of Texas,” he said, pointing out that in other states, including Wyoming, it is legal to hunt cats all year without restriction.
He said in Texas, the state would have to prove that a defendant killed a stray cat in a cruel manner or without the owner’s consent for an animal cruelty conviction.
“Animal cruelty is a disgusting and reprehensible act that the Austin County District Attorney’s Office strongly condemns,” Koehn said. “Contrary to some reports, this office has prosecuted and convicted animal cruelty offenders in the past. However, the duty to this office, and the duty of the Grand Jury, is to make decisions based on the law and evidence in each individual case.”
2. She Was Fired by the Animal Clinic Where She Worked After the Photo Went Viral
Lindsey was fired by the Washington Animal Clinic after the Facebook post went viral in April.
“Dear Friends, Clients, and other interested folks. We just learned of the conduct that is discussed below,” the clinic said in a statement. “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. Please know that when informed of this we responded swiftly and appropriately and please do not impute this awful conduct to the Washington Animal Clinic or any of its personnel.”
Before deleting her Facebook profile, Lindsey posted that she had been receiving death threats, and also claimed she hadn’t been fired.
“Our goal now is to go on and try to fix our black eye and hope that people are reasonable and understand that those actions don’t anyway portray what we’re for here at Washington Animal Clinic,” Dr. Bruce Buenger, a spokesman for the clinic told ABC 13 in April.
3. Texas Officials Are Seeking to Revoke Her Vet License
The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners voted in September to revoke Lindsey’s license after determining she broke state rules, according to WSB-TV.
Lindsey has rejected the board’s ruling, sending it to the Texas Office of Administrative Hearings. A hearing on the board’s ruling is expected in February.
A public records search on June 25 showed that Lindsey still had an active license at the time, and that it was not set to expire until March 2016. She has not received any disciplinary action, according to the records search. The license was originally issued in 2012.
4. Thousands of Animal Supporters Have Called for ‘Justice for Tiger’
Thousands of animal lovers have joined Facebook groups, like Justice For “Tiger” The Cat Murdered By Kristen Lindsey, and joined protests outside the Austin County courthouse.
In a post after the Grand Jury’s decision was announced, one of the group’s organizers said:
I now have a new worry,because she was not indicted/found guilty it worries me that this now can open up new cases of felines be them pet/feral of becoming targets for cat haters in Austin County and if this does happen gawd forbid then we will have a hell of a time on our hands,Tiger’s caregiver is beside herself with grief as we all are but for her more so,she interacted,cared and loved Tiger as her own and for this to happen today was a huge political slap in her face and ours so wot do we do from here people,this is wot we will do,we will NOT throw in the towel,we will NOT give up,we lost this round but by gawd this NATION will NOT be allowed to forget wot happened to Tiger,he has become the Poster Child if ye will of cruelty by a souless black hearted sub-human,we will stay on top of this,now wot I want to know is who is allowed to make an appeal to this case,would it be Amy his loving caregiver or can anyone make an appeal,any one here have legal savvy to get this done?
tiger I am not going away nor are any of ye thousands of supporters,even if we dont get justice for ye we will be here to remind the world of wot happened and maybe,just maybe down the road justice may prevail,we Love ye Tiger and we will not allow ye to be forgotten!
Some of the supporters gathered outside the courthouse Wednesday to protest the decision, KBTX reports.
“We were in disbelief you know we weren’t sure what more evidence that they needed,” said Amy Hemsell, who often took care of the cat, told KBTX.
They said Tiger’s death has helped gain attention for animal cruelty cases, despite not having the outcome they hoped for.
“The movement on animal abuse is growing and it can’t be denied and so with Tiger’s death it has brought much awareness, much needed awareness,” Gisele Flanigan, a True Blue Animal Rescue Volunteer, told the news station.
5. The Deans of the Vet School She Attended Decried Her ‘Grotesque’ Actions
Lindsey did not receive any support from her alma mater, the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“At Colorado State, we join the veterinary clinic that earlier employed the individual, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, and countless others who strongly decry the grotesque actions and comments displayed in that post,” the dean and associate dean of the college said in an April Facebook post. “We also wish to express our support for you, as students and veterinary professionals who joined this field with integrity and concern for animal welfare.
“Each day, you uphold our shared values as people who profoundly care about the health and wellbeing of living creatures. You work with determination, knowledge and compassion to improve animal welfare. Our students and our many graduates, with support and guidance from dedicated faculty and staff, achieve great things each day; you are committed to learning and discovery because you want to embody principles that form the foundation of veterinary medicine.”