(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Millcreek Township on Sept. 13 announced the resignation of its animal control officer who had been accused of improperly euthanizing a local cat.
The resignation of Richard Lyall was effective immediately on Sept. 13.
“Animal management needs examined and made to fit the needs of Millcreek Township. That starts today,” said Township Supervisor Kim Clear in an announcement about the resignation.
Lyall had been on administrative leave since Aug. 9 pending an investigation.
The allegations stemmed form the mistreatment of a local cat. Reportedly, a cat named Berkeley was shot and killed by the animal control officer who then threw the cat into a dumpster. That sparked public outcry from neighbors.
Millcreek Township released a statement on Aug. 5 essentially defending the officer’s actions. The statement said the “stray cat” was “host to several parasites.”
“Employing standard industry precautions that are specifically designed to mitigate the spread of animal borne illnesses, the officer used a catch pole to remove the cat from the home. The cat reacted aggressively and risked the safety of all parties involved,” the Aug. 5 statement had said. “Out of an abundance of caution, the cat was euthanized in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Animal Destruction Method Authorization Law, specifically out of an interest to public safety and because of the potential for the community spread of rabies and other animal borne diseases.”
According to neighbors, the cat did not have parasites and was friendly. A Millcreek neighbor found the cat and had taken it in as her own, so neighbors have disagreed with the characterization that the cat was a “stray.”
After the initial incident, Supervisor Kim Clear told JET 24/FOX 66 that an internal investigation would incorporate different perspectives surrounding the case.
“We are going to be interviewing the parties that were involved in the incident, the caller who did make the call to animal enforcement to come and get the animal. We are going to to be speaking to our animal enforcement officer as well as the Humane Society, the ANNA Shelter,” Clear had said.
Following Lyall’s resignation, Millcreek Township plans to work with the Erie Humane Society and other animal shelters to provide animal services to Millcreek residents. Millcreek Police also will continue to respond to animal-related calls. The Sept. 13 announcement, however, notes that the township plans to “evaluate the future of the Animal Enforcement position.”
Lyall’s resignation included an approved agreement between the township and the union which will see Lyall receiving accrued benefits, one month of severance and health coverage until the end of the year.
“Millcreek Township would like to thank all the residents that expressed their concerns throughout the process,” the township announcement said. “Open and honest feedback is vital to the future growth of the Township and is part of a distinct Millcreek identity.”