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Social media post claiming cat trapping and killing being investigated by MPD and animal shelter

From WRIL -

From Judy Barnett's public fb post

The week of February 20th, WRIL began receiving multiple messages regarding pictures and a video that had been posted on social media. The post showed a black and white cat inside a cage on the back porch of an individual's home. The video posted by Judy Barnett of Middlesboro shows a woman entering the yard of a residence walking to the back porch finding the cage.

The woman in the video also stated she would be posting the video on Facebook to warn people to "put their cats up" in the vicinity of 26th and 27th on West Chester Avenue in Middlesboro. The post also claimed that the person had another trap set up with cans of food in each one and suggested that the unnamed female resident was purposely trapping neighborhood cats.

We reached out to the Middlesboro Police and Bell County Animal Shelter Director Patsy Bracken for comments on the claims made in the post.

Middlesboro Lt. Josh Burchett states in a response report that he was contacted on February 23, 2023, just after 6pm by Alicia Jones who came into the police department upset asking to speak to an officer. Jones states that she was sent the video of the deceased cat and explained how she is known for taking care of area strays.

Lt. Burchett and Ms. Jones then went to the Chester Avenue residence where the trap and cat were located. Burchett states that once at the home he saw that the homeowner had a RING doorbell. After the homeowner answered, he told the lieutenant that he was out of state working and that he did catch a cat in his live trap but it unfortunately passed away. The man went on to say that he placed the trap for rats and other animals destroying his trash and property, but the cat entered the trap and died inside. He went on to state that the animal was removed from the trap and buried. However, WRIL has been sent a picture of what appears to be the cat disposed of in a small waterway near the residence, not buried.

Lt. Burchett asked and was given permission to access his property then examine the trap and verify the cat had been removed which he found empty. Burchett returned to Ms. Jones explaining what he saw and that the homeowner stated it was not done intentionally.

Animal Shelter Director Patsy Bracken tells us that she advised the individuals who made the post and video to contact the county attorney. She also says that it is not actually illegal to trap cats, but you cannot leave the animal inside the trap to die, nor set the animal out in another location. Bracken made it clear that she cannot legally go onto anyone's property to look behind a house in her capacity as the director and employee of the Bell County Animal Shelter.

Middlesboro Police Chief Joe Holder tells us that his department is aware of this situation involving a domestic cat and they are conducting a thorough investigation in this matter.

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