A former Marion County employee is facing criminal charges after 14 cats he and another man removed from the county’s animal shelter were later found dead.
State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) warrants released Thursday say County Code Enforcer Marion Richardson is charged with misconduct in office and animal euthanasia violation, while a supervisor Henry Rogers will also face the euthanasia violation.
The arrest warrants say both men traveled to the Marion County Animal Shelter and picked up the animals, telling the shelter director they would be given to a farmer. But the warrants state the men actually took the cats to the Old Marion County Landfill, where Richardson shot and killed them.
State law does not allow shelter animals to be shot unless “exigent circumstances” exist, such as people or other animal life being threatened or if the state Department of Natural Resources considers it necessary to eliminate or control the population of feral animals.
Richardson’s attorney released a statement on behalf of her client, saying that the officer thought he was simply doing his job. “He was called by the animal shelter to pick up the cats and dispose of them,” Rose Mary Parham said in the statement. “That is exactly what he did. Shooting a feral cat in the back of the head is actually a more humane way of killing it than using carbon monoxide. Marion loves animals and has an indoor cat of his own. It is a wonder anyone would want to be a law enforcement officer when we not only fire them, but charge them with a crime for doing their job.”
County Administrator Tim Harper said he fired Richardson earlier this month after the 14 cats the code officer took from the shelter were found dead.