The owner of a cat that was shot and ultimately died from a .22-caliber bullet is offering a reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest of the culprit.
The cat’s owner, Tamara Lee Roberts, told the Empire in an interview Monday a fund-raising effort is underway to pay the reward money.
“I’m so lost without him,” Roberts said of her cat, Chief, whom she called her best friend. “All my neighbors know him. He was a cool cat.”
Roberts said she was working in her garage last Tuesday, Sept. 29, when Chief came in and “just let out this big meow.” Noticing he was wounded she wrapped him in a blanket and put him in the bathroom. The glass on her front door had recently been broken, and Roberts said she initially thought the cat had cut himself there.
But when she went to check on Chief, she found the bathroom covered in blood and the cat severely wounded. She rushed him to the animal hospital where veterinarians told her they found a round lodged in Chief’s hip.
“I couldn’t afford $4,000 for the surgery,” Roberts said, and Chief had to be euthanized.
Roberts reported the incident to the Juneau Police Department who are investigating it. JPD spokesperson Erann Kalwara said in an email she couldn’t speak to the details of the investigation, but the incident appears to be a case of cruelty to animals.
Both the City and Borough of Juneau and the State of Alaska previously listed animal cruelty as a misdemeanor, but Roberts is hoping for more. Last year President Donald Trump signed a bill, which passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, making animal cruelty a felony. The state now lists animal cruelty as a class C felony, which can include a prison sentence of up to five years and heavy fines.
Roberts said that since first posting about the incident on Facebook several other people contacted her individually with similar stories of cats being shot by a .22-caliber rifle. Roberts said she believes the same person may be responsible.
But Juneau Animal Rescue Executive Director Samantha Blakenship said she was not aware of similar incidents. JAR runs animal control services for the city, and JPD’s investigating officer referred questions about past incidents to JAR.
“If there have been other incidents they have not been reported to us,” Blankenship said in a phone interview Monday. “It’s not something we find very common.”
Blankenship said JAR was conducting its own investigation into the incident but didn’t have any leads.
“It’s tragic. If you don’t want an animal on your property, there’s many other ways to address that,” she said.
If other such incidents have happened, Blankenship urged the public to report them so local agencies are aware of the larger issue.
A GoFundMe campaign, Justice for Chief, has been set up for Roberts to help pay the reward money. In her initial post Roberts offered $100 for information leading to the arrest of the culprit, but the campaign’s goal is $2,000 and as of Monday had already raised $265.
“If we can find this (person), it’s a felony,” Roberts said, using profanity to refer to the culprit. “Maybe we can get a whole list of felonies.”
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.