May 29, 2018


A 65-year-old man was charged with discharging a firearm inside Hamilton’s city limits after he allegedly shot a cat that had been live trapped at a church.

Lee Maxey was cited on the misdemeanor charge.

Hamilton police have been investigating a May 18 report that a domestic cat was caught in a trap at the Calvary Chapel Bitterroot Valley on North 4th Street and then euthanized.

The investigation by the police department’s animal control officer found that the church had an ongoing problem with feral cats and raccoons on its property. The cats had been defecating in a sand volleyball court that’s used by youth groups.

The church’s maintenance staff had been using live traps to capture the animals.

A neighbor’s domestic cat was caught in one of those traps. Lacking any obvious identification, the cat was apparently shot and killed.

KC York of Trap Free Montana said the church had many other options available to it.

“It’s appalling that a church would be trapping and killing animals and it’s even worse if it’s accurate that they were doing so to protect their volleyball courts,” she said. “This was a missing, beloved, microchipped cat that, according to people in the public, the owner had asked the church about. They had the option of taking it to the shelter.”

York said she’s heard there may be other cats that are missing from the area.

“We investigated the information that we could corroborate,” said Hamilton Police Chief Ryan Oster. “We have heard all kinds of things, but we stuck to what facts we had.”

In a statement, the Hamilton police said the incident has brought out a lot of emotion for people involved and in the community.

“While the use of live traps to control nuisance animals within the City of Hamilton are not prohibited, as long as they are used in a way that is not cruel or inhumane, this incident underscores the need to ensure that the public knows that the best course of action is to work with the Humane Society or a participating veterinarian to determine what to do with animals once they are captured,” it read. “These organizations can help ensure that the captured animal is not someone’s pet, and in the case of feral cats, they can assist with ensuring that the animals get spayed or neutered.”

A phone call to the church went unanswered.

On a May 19 Facebook post, the church apologized for “inadvertently” disposing of a neighbor’s cat.

“When we realized what had happened, we were deeply saddened,” the post read. “Not one trap has been set since that time.”

The post said the church went to Missoula and picked out a kitten for the neighbor whose cat was lost.

“Again, the mistake was made and was completely unintentional,” the post read. “We know that pets are part of our families and we have done what we can to correct this. On Facebook, repentance was called for, we have repented. Through Facebook, restitution was asked to be done and restitution happened. We asked for forgiveness and forgiveness was granted by the person most affected.

“Now we ask you for forgiveness. We’re sorry to anyone who was upset by this. We ask for grace from you as we also extend the grace of Christ to you,” the post read.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561