Someone shot and killed a neighborhood cat that was sitting on the porch of a house, leaving residents of the quiet part of northeast Albuquerque on edge and city animal welfare officials looking for clues as to who might be responsible.
The black and white cat, named Pris, was brought to the city's animal welfare department by a resident after being found dead early Tuesday. City spokesman Chris Ramirez said X-rays showed a bullet lodged near the cat's ribs.
The case was referred to Albuquerque police and the animal's body was sent to the state veterinary laboratory for a necropsy. City officials were still waiting for the results Thursday, but they hoped the caliber of the bullet and other details might be gleaned from the tests so they could determine whether to move forward with an investigation.
"The reason we take this so serious is because if somebody were caught, they could face extreme cruelty to animal charges and it is against the law to shoot a firearm within city limits," Ramirez said. "Those are two crimes that are both felonies that we think are pretty serious."
While the sniping of the cat appears to be an isolated shooting, neighbors who were fond of the cat are not taking it lightly.
Margaret Schulte said she and her next-door neighbor had cared for Pris since he was a kitten. They initially thought it was a female cat _ and named it Prissy _ but a neutering trip to a local veterinarian determined otherwise. The name, Pris for short, still stuck.
Schulte said her neighbor went out and was looking over her garden when she saw the cat lying there dead. The cat frequented the space between the two houses and often sat on adjacent porches and patios.
"It was near her porch and our back door. What if they had missed the cat and hit our house?" asked Schulte, who has lived in the otherwise quiet neighborhood with other retirees and families for the past six years.
"Some people are saying we shouldn't make such a fuss over a cat, but that's not the object," she said. "There's somebody in the area with a gun and they could shoot a child. That's what we're worried about, the safety of the children in the neighborhood."
City officials said they weren't aware of any similar cases in at least the last two years.