When Russ Nobbs put his cat Kelly on the front porch on Oct. 29, it was a routine matter. He was leaving for work and the cat wanted out. But what happened a short time later was not part of the routine.
Across the street Karrie St. Clair was visiting her boyfriend when she heard loud noises from Nobbs’ front porch. She looked up and saw two dogs come down the front steps, one carrying the almost dead Kelly in its mouth.
“I couldn’t believe it, it happened so quickly,” St. Clair said. “I yelled ‘Hey!’ and the dogs dropped the cat and took off down the street.”
St. Clair ran across the street to check on the cat.
“I knew it wasn’t going to make it. It was around for another two minutes, tops,” St. Clair said.
She described the two dogs as medium to large, shorthaired and said that one was charcoal gray and the other was tan.
“I’ve never seen them around here before,” she said.
And Nobbs, who has lived on East 13th Avenue and Helena Street for decades, said he’s had it with cat-killing dogs on the loose in his neighborhood. This is the second housecat he has lost to roaming dogs.
“By now, I am more angry than I’m sad,” said Nobbs, who owns Rings and Things with his wife, Dee Mueller. “I personally know of at least a dozen cats that have been killed here over the past year. It has to stop.”
Carrie Jackson, who lives on East Ninth Avenue, just a few blocks away from Nobbs, lost her 12-year-old cat Jaxon to two dogs on the evening of Oct. 30.
Jackson said she heard the cat scream and ran outside where she saw two dogs – both wearing collars – both the size and shape of pit bulls, attacking her cat. The dogs took off when she yelled at them.
“My cat’s injuries were so terrible. He had been picked up and shaken several times. It brings tears to my eyes describing it to you,” Jackson wrote in an email. Although the cat was still alive, the injuries were so severe Jackson made the decision to have Jaxon put down at the emergency veterinary clinic the same night.
“I wish I had paid more attention to the dogs, but it was dark and I was high on adrenaline,” Jackson said. “I just screamed at them.” Jackson’s young daughter often plays in her backyard and now she’s worried about her safety.
Dogs killing cats in the Perry Street neighborhood is not a new problem.
Nobbs has pictures of four dead cats he found in his yard between October and December last year.
At one point, Nobbs put a motion-activated wildlife camera on his house, hoping to get pictures of the dogs.
“All I ever saw was cats and people,” Nobbs said, shrugging. “I just want this to stop.”
Leah Kliment, who lives down the street from Nobbs, lost her cat Alberto last year.
She said Alberto was also found with a broken neck.
“It was terrible,” Kliment said. “If we could save anybody else’s cat,” she said, “that would be worth it.”
Nobbs called SpokAnimal when Kelly was killed, and the responding animal control officer drove around looking for the dogs, but didn’t find them.
The rules are pretty clear: Dogs must be on a leash within the city limits, and cats that are spayed or neutered and licensed may roam outside. However, both SpokAnimal and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recommend keeping cats indoors.
Nobbs said he called SpokAnimal several times last year when he was finding dead cats in his yard.
The problem, of course, is proof.
Unless someone sees a cat being attacked by a dog and has the wherewithal to write down a detailed description of the dog, perhaps take a picture and call SpokAnimal, then it’s very difficult to find the dog. If a dog on the loose kills a domestic animal it can be declared dangerous and confiscated.
“If a person witnesses a dog attacking a cat they need to call SpokAnimal immediately so we can get an officer to the area,” wrote Jeff Bergstrom, animal control officer with SpokAnimal, in an email. “In some cases the dogs are known and we have an owner’s address to respond to. In other cases the dog has run off. In that case we may patrol the area for a week or so.”
St. Clair said people in her neighborhood care about each other and watch out for each other and each other’s pets.
“I think we need some stiffer fines for the owners of these dogs,” St. Clair said. “I also worry about myself. I am not sure how well I would hold up against two loose dogs.”