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King County Prosecuting Attorney at. [email protected]

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PETITION TARGET: Seattle Police Department and Seattle Animal Shelter

UPDATE (6/10/2021) Melissa Mixon, a Seattle Animal Shelter spokesperson, said no criminal charges will be filed in this case.

Mixon said the animal shelter received news of the incident, investigated the circumstances, and decided with the Seattle City Attorney’s Office not to refer the case to the Seattle Police or pursue criminal charges.

“Primarily, we learned through our investigation that the owner of the chicken coop made several attempts to scare or shoo the cat away and—when it would not run away or back down—the owner feared the cat would kill his chickens,” Mixon told Lady Freethinker. “He reported having chickens killed by feral cats in the past and, while he has encountered cats in his coop before, he stated that they have previously been easy to scare away.”

Mixon added that if a criminal charge was filed, the owner of the chickens would have a viable defense of property claim.

“There was not sufficient evidence to overcome that defense at trial,” she said.

Mixon added that the animal shelter’s investigation showed the man had buried the cat on his property “thinking it was an unowned feral cat but, upon seeing a missing cat sign, reported it to the cat’s owner who then contacted the shelter.”

“We have advised the chicken coop owner to create a more secure coop for his chickens and been in touch with the cat’s owners over this very unfortunate incident,” she said.

Lady Freethinker will continue to follow the civil case and to advocate for all animals unjustly and unnecessarily killed.

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Shot repeatedly at close range and then buried by his attacker, an 8-month-old kitten lovingly named Ghost lay dead and decomposing in a man’s yard while his guardians frantically searched for him.

Ghost — a microchipped and neutered snow mink Bengal — was a wedding present for a newly-married couple who allowed him to roam outside. One day, the cat traveled about 150 yards to the house of a neighbor who kept chickens in a fenced enclosure without netting or unscalable sides, according to court documents. 

Ghost did not injure any of the chickens. But Seattle resident Joseph Pernorio said in court documents that he viewed the 11-pound cat as a “dangerous, wild animal” that he was “justified in destroying.” 

Pernorio trapped the cat, shot him twice at close range with a 0.22 caliber firearm, and then enlisted his son to help him bury the body, according to court documents.

Meanwhile, Ghost’s family searched for him desperately, putting “Missing Cat” notices in people’s mailboxes — including Pernorio’s– and papering the street with fliers that allegedly were torn down. Days after Ghost’s death, Pernorio’s son allegedly approached the couple and said they had to “put down” the cat, according to court documents.

A necropsy of Ghost’s corpse showed he died from hemorrhaging from the gunshot wounds, in an agonizing death that a veterinarian said likely lasted for at least three minutes.

No animal should be so brutally killed, especially when numerous non-lethal solutions to this neighborhood dispute were possible.

Whomever shot, killed, and buried this beloved cat and then concealed his death must be held accountable for their actions. 

Sign this petition urging the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Animal Shelter to open a criminal investigation into this situation and to refer any criminal charges applicable to the person responsible for Ghost’s death to a prosecutor.

Ghost the cat