Veterinarian fired for Facebook post about killing cat with a bow and arrow
Texas vet under police investigation and has been fired by animal hospital
A 31-year-old veterinarian in rural Texas captured the web's attention this weekend after appearing in a Facebook photo holding up a dead cat she claims to have killed with a bow and arrow.
"My first bow kill [cat emoji] lol," read the photo's caption, which was uploaded to Dr. Kristen Lindsey's Facebook page on Wednesday. "The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it's head! Vet of the year award … gladly accepted."
The graphic image in question shows Lindsey smiling widely while holding up a slain orange cat with what appears to be an arrow lodged in the back of its neck.
Lindsey's Facebook profile is no longer visible, but screen shots of the controversial post have been circulating on news and social media sites since Friday, drawing scrutiny from animal lovers around the world — as well as from local authorities.
Tens of thousands have now signed onlinepetitionsseeking to have the Brenham, Texas, veterinarian's licence removed, some of them alleging that the cat in the photo wasn't feral but actually a local couple's pet.
As of Monday morning, more than 35,000 people had joined a Facebook group set up to achieve justice for a cat named "Tiger," who went missing shortly before Lindsey's photo was posted, according to his cat-sitter, Amy Hemsell.
Online uproar over the cat photo has only intensified in recent days, prompting both Lindsey's employer and police in Austin County to take action.
On Friday, it was announced that Lindsey had been fired from her position at the Washington Animal Clinic after two years of employment.
"You hope it isn't true and then you find out that it may be," said Dr. Bruce Buenger, co-owner of the animal hospital, to KHOU. "So then you just have to do what's right. We researched it, did some soul-searching and this morning decided to terminate her employment with the clinic."
The clinic has reportedly covered Lindsey's name with duct tape on an outdoor sign listing its veterinarians, and posted the following message to its website (which is currently down under the weight of traffic):
"We are absolutely appalled, shocked, upset, and disgusted by the conduct. 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."
The Texas Veterinary Medical Association and Colorado State University, where Lindsey earned her doctorate, have also condemned the viral photo.
"At Colorado State University, we join the veterinary clinic that earlier employed this individual, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, and countless others who strongly decry the grotesque actions and comments displayed in that post," reads a letter sent to students from the dean of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. "We trust that the Austin County Sheriff's Office will continue its investigation of the case, and that the case will be appropriately adjudicated through both the law-enforcement system and the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners."
Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes told local ABC affiliate Monday morning that his department has been receiving calls from people around the world regarding the incident.
Brandes confirmed that police are investigating, saying, "This is not acceptable in our society. This is not how we live in Austin County."
In a Saturday interview with the L.A. Times, Brandes said that three investigators have been assigned to the case, but that they were proceeding cautiously as the department had not yet interviewed Lindsey.
"If this did occur, it's a criminal act," Brandes said to the Times, noting that a charge of cruelty to a non-livestock animal is a class A misdemeanour under the Texas penal code.
"It's disgusting and very alarming," he continued. "Yet our job is to investigate, then present a case to the district attorney. People are concerned, but we can't convict someone of a crime based on a picture on Facebook."
The Austin County Sheriff's Facebook page responded to the influx of public requests for information about the case with a long post explaining "the way the criminal justice process works."
"In regards to Kristen Lindsey coming in with her attorney: In the U.S., when a person who is suspected of an offence invokes their rights under Miranda, they cannot be spoken with, or questioned in any manner without the presence of their attorney," the Sunday morning post reads.
"Whether or not search warrants have been issued and executed — or subpoenas have been served, that information is for the court system to view — not Facebook."