North Ridgeville, Ohio Humane Officer Barry Accorti responded to a complaint from a homeowner on Monday about a litter of kittens living in her woodpile, and he proceeded to shoot the kittens in view of the homeowner's young children.
The Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals called for Accorti to be fired.
"He informed her that shelters were full and that these cats would be going to kitty heaven," Ohio SPCA Executive Director Teresa Landon explained. "She assumed he would be trapping them or something and taking them to a shelter and they would be humanely euthanized if they were not adopted."
"Instead, he went to his truck and got a gun, which she thought was a tranquilizer gun, and walked around to the back of the house and approximately 15 feet from her back door shot and killed the 8- to 10-week-old kittens," Landon said.
The homeowner's children had a view from the upstairs window and began screaming and crying when they heard the gunshots.
"It’s heartbreaking… There is no excuse for it. It’s absolutely shameful that someone with the title of humane officer would do this," Landon said.
But North Ridgeville Police Chief Mike Freeman released a statement on Facebook defending Accorti's actions, and said the department would take no disciplinary measures.
"The cats were located within the wood pile and euthanized," Freeman wrote. "The cats were removed from the wood pile and taken from the residence."
He added that "research and other animal organizations accept shooting as an acceptable means of euthanasia." Freeman said that Accorti's actions were "appropriate," but that humane officers would be trained at "improving their communications with the public."
After posting the statement, The North Ridgeville Police Department said it was forced to take down its Facebook page for hours on Monday due to "overwhelming abuse." The statement has since been removed.