ALDF Fights to Bring Kristen Lindsey to Justice

kristen-lindsey-bow-killIn April 2015, Kristen Lindsey, a Texas veterinarian, shot and killed a cat with a bow and arrow.

Her action came to light when she posted a photo of herself on Facebook, grinning as she dangled the still-impaled cat by the shaft of the arrow. In the caption she bragged, “My first bow kill, lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s [sic] head! Vet of the year award … gladly accepted.”

Vet of the year? Hardly. In a blog post before the killing, Lindsey wrote that her current interests include “…killing things or trying to kill things (animals, a full glass of whiskey, hangovers, etc.).”

The photo provoked international outrage, especially when it came out that the cat, an orange tabby named Tiger, belonged to Lindsey’s neighbors but had gone missing.

Reaction to Lindsey’s act was swift. Her employer, Washington Animal Clinic, fired her. Her alma mater, Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences “decr[ied] the grotesque actions and comments displayed in [Lindsey’s] post.”

ALDF Presses for Justice

A grand jury investigated the killing but, in June 2015, found there was “insufficient proof” to charge Lindsey with animal cruelty.

The Austin County District Attorney’s office then closed the case, claiming it could not confirm where the cat was killed, whether the cat had an owner, and whether the cat was killed “in a cruel manner.”

Concerned that the District Attorney’s office might not have properly presented the evidence to the grand jury, ALDF immediately requested all records related to the case through the Texas Public Information Act. The District Attorney’s office refused to release the records, citing multiple discretionary exemptions from disclosure, and asked the Attorney General for a final opinion.

ALDF subsequently filed a formal complaint with the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners urging the board to revoke Lindsey’s license to practice veterinary medicine. In the complaint, and in testimony at a hearing before the Board, ALDF argued that Lindsey had violated the Texas cruelty code and, in turn, the Board’s rules of ethics.

The Board agreed, ultimately recommending that Lindsey’s license be revoked, given her “demonstrated callous indifference to animal pain and suffering.”

But when Lindsey rejected the Board’s decision, the Board filed a formal complaint with the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings, now tentatively scheduled for a hearing in March 2016.

New Information Comes to Light

In the months since the Austin County District Attorney’s Office refused to charge Lindsey with animal cruelty, new information has come to light that confirms Lindsey’s actions were criminal cruelty and opens the door to prosecution.

  • Lindsey acknowledged in a signed affidavit appealing the Board’s revocation decision that the killing “occurred on [her] property” in Austin County, Texas.
  • Although the District Attorney’s office cited American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) guidelines for humane killing in its finding that Lindsey may not have killed the cat “in a cruel manner,” the AVMA released a statement rebutting the DA’s analysis.
  • Lindsey claimed the cat she killed was feral. Texas Penal Code Section 42.092(a)(2) includes feral cats under its definition of protected “animals.”
  • Texas Penal Code Section 42.092(b) prohibits killing an animal “without the owner’s effective consent.” If the cat was feral, there was no way to get the “effective consent” of a nonexistent owner. But Lindsey’s neighbors, who were out of town when the killing occurred, identified the cat in the photo as their cat Tiger, based on his distinctive markings. And according to the Board’s formal complaint against Lindsey, Tiger had been a patient at the Washington Animal Clinic—Lindsey’s former employer. In either case, Lindsey lacked an “owner’s effective consent.”

Given this new information, ALDF wrote the Austin County DA’s office on November 12, 2015, requesting that it reopen the case.

In April of 2016, Kristen Lindsey faced the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME) over the revocation of her veterinary license before two administrative law judges.

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