Alley Cat Allies Praises Anti-Cruelty Conviction - Richmond Case Shows Cruelty Toward Feral Cats Not Tolerated in Civil Society

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Alley Cat Allies, the national advocate for stray and feral cats, today noted its strong approval of the conviction of an operator of a Richmond, Va. pest-control company, who was found guilty of three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty for killing three cats behind a local television station. The case, Commonwealth v. Copi, was tried in Henrico County General District Court of the Commonwealth of Virginia on Thursday, August 14, 2008.

More and more of these kinds of cases are being brought to trial nationwide, reflecting an increasing understanding in our criminal justice system that cruelty toward cats is not tolerated in a civil society.

Alley Cat Allies, the national advocate for stray and feral cats, declared "justice served" after the conviction of a Richmond pest-control company operator, who was found guilty of three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty for killing three cats behind a local television station. The case, Commonwealth v. Copi, was tried in Henrico County General District Court of the Commonwealth of Virginia on Thursday, August 14, 2008.

"Justice has been served," said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. "More and more of these kinds of cases are being brought to trial nationwide, reflecting an increasing understanding in our criminal justice system that cruelty toward cats is not tolerated in a civil society."

In June, a local Richmond television station contracted with the pest-control company Critter Control to remove a feral cat colony on a property adjacent to the station, reportedly over the vehement objections of residents and the Richmond SPCA. Local residents, including employees of the television station, had been caring for the colony for years, providing food, water, and veterinary care to the cats with their own money. According to trial testimony, Critter Control operator Keith Copi admitted he trapped and killed the cats. For each of the three state law violations, he received a suspended sentence of 12 months and a $250 fine.

"We applaud the Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney office and encourage prosecutors across the country to uphold the laws--which exist in all 50 states and the District of Columbia--that make intentionally killing a cat a criminal offense," said Robinson.

"Richmond citizens should feel proud to live in such a caring city," said Robinson. "Local animal organizations have been providing free spay and neuter for feral cats and have humane programs in place--like Trap-Neuter-Return--that meet the needs of the cats and the community.

"But there is still a need nationwide for education and awareness on feral cats and the cruelty and ineffectiveness of 'catch and kill.' So-called 'animal control' policies and sheltering practices need to change," said Robinson.

"'Catch and kill' for outdoor cats does not reflect the values held by most Americans," she said, citing recent research conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Alley Cat Allies, which found that over 80 percent of Americans believe it is more humane to let a cat live out her life outdoors than to have her caught and killed.

Alley Cat Allies and more than 187,000 supporters across the country are seeking revolutionary changes in animal control and sheltering practices, an end to the institutionalized killing of all cats, and the stringent application of anti-cruelty laws to all offenders, Robinson said.

About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is dedicated to ending the killing of cats and leading the movement for their humane care. Their web site is http://www.alleycat.org

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Elizabeth Parowski

Francie Israeli
John Adams Associates
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