Jimmy the cat's killing fuels protest in Woodbury

Around 100 people plan to protest Jimmy's death at Wednesday's Woodbury City Council meeting.
Around 100 people plan to protest Jimmy's death at Wednesday's Woodbury City Council meeting.

The sad story of Jimmy the cat is prompting some Woodbury residents to say they are "embarrassed" to live in the city.

Jimmy, a diabetic, grey-striped tabby, was killed on December 9 at the Woodbury Animal Humane Society, days after the death of his owner, Woodbury resident Mary Ray.

There was just one rather large problem -- Ray, 71, had left her entire estate, including Jimmy, to Hastings-based Animal Ark, the state's largest no-kill animal shelter.

The Pioneer Press reports that Ray died in her house in early December, but it was days before her body was discovered by police. Jimmy, in poor health, was with her. The police sent the cat to the Humane Society, which has a contract with Woodbury for animal-control services.

Despite the fact that Ray had left her family out of her will, Woodbury police then called one of Ray's daughters to ask what should be done with Jimmy. The daughter, knowing the cat was diabetic and believing other family members wouldn't want it, didn't express reservations about euthanizing Jimmy.

In a statement published on its website, Animal Ark Executive Director Mike Fry expresses outrage about Jimmy's "likely illegal" killing.

He writes:

If the owner of a lost pet comes to AHS to reclaim it, the owners of those pets are required to appear in person, and provide proof of ownership before the pet is release to them. Yet, in this case, AHS, acting as an agent of the City of Woodbury, killed a cat, reportedly at the request of a phone caller, and without giving the actual owners of the animal any opportunity to respond.

This situation is unconscionable, and, I believe, a violation of state law. Furthermore it is inconsistent with the stated goals of both AHS and the City of Woodbury. It is also not particularly unique. Other cases of AHS killing animals in violation of Minnesota State Law have also been reported.

According to Woodbury Patch, in defense of their actions, police have pointed out that they had no knowledge of Ray's will when handling Jimmy over to the Humane Society.

Woodbury Police Sgt. Neil Bauer said "it is unfortunate that the descendent's wishes were not implemented upon [Ray's] death, but added that "considering the information that was available at the time, the City made reasonable efforts to provide care for the cat until next of kin could act upon the descendent's wishes."

But Animal Ark counters that the Humane Society is legally obligated to hold cats like Jimmy for at least five business days, which may have been enough time to sort out rightful ownership.

In any event, Jimmy's death has some Woodbury residents planning to protest the city's contract with the Humane Society during this Wednesday's City Council meeting.

The Pioneer Press quotes 15-year resident Debbie Long as saying the Jimmy fiasco makes her "embarrassed" to live in Woodbury.

"This is a horrific thing for us, to know our taxpaying dollars to for euthanizing pets like this," she said. "Maybe they should be called the Inhumane Society."

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