CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
MEADOWLAKES — After a trip to the veternarian and some tender-loving care, Mary Canipe’s cat Journey appears to be healing from the pellet wound on his back.
“We were quite concerned. He was gone for two days. We found him on a neighbor’s roof,” Canipe said. “I noticed the swelling in his back three or four days later.”
Canipe, who lives on Mahan Drive, was one of three pet owners who reported their cats coming home with injuries caused by either a pellet gun or a so-called air rifle in June. One of the cats died from its injuries, according to animal control officer Robbie Galaway.
“There was, all of a sudden, a little rash of cat shootings. We don’t know why. We don’t know who,” he said. “We’re just trying to be a little bit more vigilant, be a little bit more on the lookout.”
Incidents have evolved from three cats within a three-block radius primarily in the center of the city to reports of someone targeting squirrels with the same kind of firearm, officials reported.
“It’s a serious offense, and it’s punishable,” said Galaway, referring to potential animal cruelty charges in the incidents involving pets. “We know about it. We’re watching.”
Under state law, cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor charge; however, multiple convictions could warrant prison time, prosecutors say.
“It’s enhanceable at some point,” first assistant Burnet County Attorney Catherine McAnally said. “It’s conceivable. It’s possible someone can go to prison for repeated convictions of animal cruelty.”
All the reported incidents violate a city ordinance, as well: prohibiting the discharge of firearms within the city limits, Galaway said.
Other concerns include damage to property and possible injury to humans.
“They could shoot somebody,” he said. “The idea (for neighbors) would be to report the information to the (Burnet County) Sheriff’s Office or (Meadowlakes) City Hall.”
Journey continues to heal, but the pellet remains lodged too close to his spine to remove, Canipe said.
She fears the potential for more harm if the shooter gets away.
“I was just concerned. I was a school teacher for 37 years. If a kid is doing something like that, it’s very serious,” Canipe said. “I think it would be good, not just for Meadowlakes, but for everyone to know.”
To offer tips, call the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 756-8080 or Meadowlakes City Hall at (830) 693-6840.