National News

Hamilton woman distraught after church worker kills cat

Posted May 31, 2018 2:06 p.m. EDT

— "It was heart-wrenching, it really was heart-wrenching," said Hamilton resident Sheila Fallows.

Hamilton Police have charged Lee Maxey, 65, of Hamilton with discharging a firearm in city limits. He is a maintenance worker at Bitterroot Valley Calvary Chapel Church.

"He continued to ask for forgiveness and I did forgive him and he gave me this kitty he had hoped that this kitty would help with the loss and with him talking I realized then that he had probably killed my cat," Fallows said about Maxey.

Maxey is believed to have fired a weapon in an effort to euthanize a pet belonging to Sheila Fallows that was found in a live trap set out by the church.

Hamilton Police Chief Ryan Oster told KPAX the church set up live traps to keep cats and raccoons away from their sand volleyball court where the animals had been found defecating in sand used by youth groups.

Maxey admitted to Fallows that he killed her pet and was emotionally distraught by the ordeal -- so much so that he gave her a kitten. Fallows hoped the pastor would have apologized earlier and hopes the church can learn from this.

"I think that there is a real community awareness here I think the church has a lot of awareness and growth that has to occur within its personal I am sorry that it took him so long to apologize," Fallows said.

Calvary Chapel says they did not intend to trap pets and issued an apology on Facebook.

Hamilton has no ordinance preventing the use of live traps but the Hamilton police department says that if you are using live traps to deal with nuisance animals you should contact the Humane Society on how to do it properly.

Fallows agrees.

"I'm hoping that people from this incident that there's an awareness that we do know that AniMeals is there that Fox Hollow is there, a great program supported by donations the Humane Society they will take care of those animals for you. They will send you in the right direction you don't have to suffer the guilt that Lee probably felt."

(first report)

HAMILTON - A Hamilton man has been cited for discharging a firearm within the city limits after being accused of shooting and killing a cat that was caught in a trap set out by a local church.

Lee Maxey, 65, of Hamilton was issued a citation in Hamilton City Court for discharging a firearm within city limits.

Hamilton Police Chief Ryan Oster told MTN News that he received a report of a domestic cat that was alleged to have been caught in a trap within the city limits on May 18 th. Oster said the complaint alleged that the animal was euthanized after being trapped.

An investigation by the Hamilton Police Department Animal Control officer determined that the property owners at 700 North 4th Street, identified as the Bitterroot Valley Calvary Chapel, have had an ongoing problem with feral cats and raccoons on the property.

The feral cats have been defecating on the church's property in a sand volleyball court that is utilized by the youth group.

The animal control officer determined a church maintenance staffer had been trapping these animals, using live traps. A neighbor's domestic cat was caught in the trap. The cat did not have obvious identification and was destroyed by the maintenance staff.

The Hamilton Police Department issued Maxey a misdemeanor citation as a result of the investigation. Hamilton Police have also been in contact with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to determine if any state trapping regulations or rules have been violated.

The Bitterroot Valley Calvary Chapel said in a Facebook post on May 19 that they had set a live trap.

"We weren't targeting any pets. In doing so, we inadvertently disposed of a neighbor's cat," they said.

As of Wednesday, the post no longer appears on their Facebook page. MTN News has made repeated attempts to get comment from the Bitterroot Valley Calvary Chapel about the incident, but no one has responded to our inquiries.

The Hamilton Police Department released a statement about the incident which reads in part:

"This incident has brought out a lot of emotion for those involved and others in the community. While the use of live traps to control nuisance animals within the City of Hamilton are not prohibited, as long as they are used in a way that is not cruel or inhumane, this incident underscores the need to ensure that the public knows that the best course of action is to work with the Humane Society or a participating veterinarian to determine what to do with the animals once they are captured. These organizations can help ensure that the captured animal is not someone's pet, and in the case of feral cats they can assist with ensuring that the animals get spayed and neutered."

- information from Melissa Rafferty included in this report.