On a Saturday afternoon last October the Wyss family of St. Paul discovered that their cat of six years, Dipper, had been shot.
They immediately took Dipper to a vet in Newberg for care, trying to keep their beloved pet alive. The projectile fired from some sort of air rifle had hit him in the back, and the resulting paralysis was too much; movement was difficult and he couldn't go to the bathroom. After a week he had to be put down.
With much of the grief behind them, around Thanksgiving the family decided that it would be nice to have a pet again, and they adopted two kittens, Milo and Matteo, from the Oregon Humane Society. On Friday evening, April 16, they discovered Milo had been shot, apparently from the same type of gun.
"In October we thought that was a one-off kind of deal," said Doug Wyss, whose family lives on the west side of town near the St. Paul Roman Catholic Church. "But here we are six months later and someone does it again? It makes us think it was deliberate."
The Wyss family took Milo in for surgery, and he appears to be pulling through. They hope he will regain full use of his leg.
They also called the Marion County Sheriff's Office and the Oregon Humane Society, which has an enforcement division. MCSO Deputy Pete Walker responded, and he took the projectile that was fired at Milo and removed in surgery as evidence and for a clue in the investigation.
Shooting someone's pet is a serious crime in Oregon.
"Under Oregon law, shooting another person's cat would be considered animal abuse," MCSO Sgt. Jeremy Landers said. "Oregon animal abuse laws fall into three categories; aggravated, 1st-degree, and 2nd-degree. The potential punishment for committing animal abuse ranges from a Class C Felony down to a Class B misdemeanor.
"The specific facts of the case would determine which level of crime occurred and what the extent of the injuries to the animal is."
In other words, since Dipper died from being shot, that's a felony. If the same person who shot Dipper shot Milo, that could be classified as a felony as well since it's a repeat offense.
Oregon Humane Society has dedicated agents who deal with animal abuse and neglect.
According to the OHS website: "Oregon has some of the strongest laws in the country to protect animals from abuse and neglect. Oregon Humane Society's special agents are commissioned by the Oregon State Police and enforce these laws throughout the state.
"They rescue pets from abuse and neglect, get them the medical care they need, training to overcome their painful past and hold their abusers accountable … They fight for those who can't speak for themselves."
In addition to contacting the authorities, Wyss posted the incident on the "Citizens of St. Paul Community Group" Facebook page. The post drew dozens of sympathetic reactions and responses, including a number of people vowing to be vigilant.
Wyss said Milo and Matteo are primarily indoor cats, but they do enjoy spending some time outdoors. The family was concerned when Milo hadn't returned around his usual time on April 16. He figures the cat was shot sometime between 9 p.m. and midnight.
"We don't know how long it took for the cat to crawl back to our house wounded," Wyss said.
When Dipper had to be put down, Wyss said it was hard on his family. Now that a similar event has occurred, the family is grateful Milo will survive, but they want their neighbors – especially pet-owning neighbors – to know this has happened.
"Dipper was part of the family and the kids loved him to death. We had him for six years. He was ornery but we loved him," Wyss said.
They don't want to revisit the anguish again.
"My wife has gone around neighborhood, politely asking questions," Wyss said. "I don't know what the end game is with this. I don't know if there is one for us."
Wyss, who serves on the St. Paul School Board, has been part of the St. Paul community for two decades, and his wife's family dates back multiple generations.
"We've never had a problem like this here in St. Paul. It's just frustrating," he said. "We can't undo what happened to (our) kids or get money back from surgery ... But whatever it takes, we have to make sure this stops."
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