On January 12, Harrisonburg, Virginia police officer J.N. Snoddy was charged with a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty, after allegedly beating an injured cat to death in order to “euthanize” it.
Snoddy, who responded to a man’s call claiming the cat had been hit by a car, reportedly struck the animal up to twenty times with his baton. His actions not only left a neighborhood in shock, but showed utter disregard for the law; Harrisonburg PD protocol states that an officer may only shoot a “mortally suffering” animal to euthanize it after calling a supervisor for permission. Officer Snoddy ignored both parts of the procedure, neither asking for permission nor using his gun to put the cat out of its misery.
Witness Wayne Meadows, who watched the beating from his front porch, says he was “relieved” to hear that Snoddy had been charged.
“I still have my moments. The memory is never gonna go away, but it sorta does bring a little closure to it,” he told reporters.
Meadows took time off work after the incident, and the siding on his house remains damaged from the beating.
But even as the charge brings an end to the investigation, some are demanding that Snoddy, who has currently been placed on administrative leave, be removed from his position.
“If this man is brutal and callous enough to use a weapon in that way on a suffering animal, can we trust him to show good judgement and restraint when dealing with citizens?” writes ForceChange.com contributor Katy Gillivan, who began a petition to fire Officer Snoddy. (http://forcechange.com/11546/police-officer-who-killed-cat-with-baton-should-lose-his-job/)
Several comments on Gillivan’s story and other news postings on the case agree, with outraged animal lovers questioning Snoddy’s morals and calling for his resignation.
Yet, others argue that Snoddy’s actions say little of his character and ability to serve as an officer.
“The more important thing is that he protects citizens,” said a twenty-one-year-old college student who has been following the case, but has requested that her name be withheld. “It’s not the kind of thing you’d want to happen, obviously, but people tend to get angry, and then what? Should we fire all officers for minor infractions? [Snoddy] didn’t deal with it the way he should have, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad cop or deserves to lose his job.”
For now, the Harrisonburg PD has pledged to remain neutral.
“We’ll wait until the court process is complete. From now until then, the officer will remain on administrative leave,” said Mary Hope, Public Information Officer for the Harrisonburg Police Department.
In the meantime, Snoddy, along with his supporters and opponents, awaits his trial.
If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.
Photo Credit: wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/File:Kitten%27s_friend_barnstar.png