Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey has ignited a social media firestorm for posting a picture of herself proudly holding up a cat she claims to have shot, boasting about her “first bow kill” and calling herself “vet of the year.” Within hours, the graphic image and commentary had gone viral, setting off a storm of complaints, a law enforcement investigation, and immediate termination by her employers at the Washington Animal Clinic. The rapidity of the response illustrates how powerful social media can be when it comes to spreading stories about animal cruelty and demanding immediate action.
While the facts are still sorting themselves out, some are incontrovertible. On April 16, Lindsey posted the graphic image with commentary to her Facebook page (this link contains graphic and disturbing imagery). Almost immediately, it attracted the attention of animal lovers, who began circulating it through their networks and calling for action. Numerous Facebook groups calling for justice in the case have already arisen, garnering thousands of horrified followers who are eager to see resolution in the case.
Additionally, according to Internet commenters, her claim that the cat involved was feral may be incorrect. He resembles an orange tabby named Tiger (not pictured), who went missing shortly before the image was posted. Killing any animal with a bow is a cruel act, and killing a beloved pet harms not just the animal, but his surviving family, like Tiger’s elderly companions. If her victim was in fact Tiger, it comes with a particularly low blow given that many older adults rely on their animals for comfort and companionship in the face of the social isolation that comes with aging.
In response, Lindsey deleted her Facebook account and her employer was quick to distance itself, stating:
“Dear Friends, Clients, and other interested folks. We just learned of the conduct that is discussed on Facebook. We are absolutely appalled, shocked, upset, and disgusted by the conduct. We have parted ways with Ms. Lindsey. We do not allow such conduct and we condemn it in the strongest possible manner. Please know that when informed of this we responded swiftly and appropriately and please do not impute this awful conduct to the Washington Animal Clinic or any of its personnel.”
News is still breaking in the case, which as of Friday afternoon was under investigation by the Austin County Sheriff’s Department. The agency reported being overloaded with complaints about the case, indicating that dispatchers were having difficulty managing emergency services calls and asking members of the public to be patient. The agency has promised that it will provide updates on the investigation in a timely fashion, including news on whether she will be charged with animal cruelty — Texas does have a statute that specifically bans abuse of “nonlivestock animals” like cats and dogs.
Should the investigation confirm that Lindsey is responsible for the shooting, in addition to facing legal penalties, she may also be subject to investigation and revocation of her license by the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Taking an early role in the investigation could allow the agency to take swift action against the veterinarian if she’s convicted of animal cruelty charges to ensure that she doesn’t have an opportunity to practice medicine in the state of Texas. Full legal penalties would also count against her if she attempted to apply for licensing in another state.
Alley Cat Allies has offered a $7,500 reward to anyone who can assist with the investigation into the death, and encourages members of the public with information to call the Austin County Sheriff’s Office at (979)-865-3111. Due to the high volume of calls to the agency as well as dispatchers, callers should only call if they have information critical to the investigation; otherwise, they can monitor the agency’s Facebook for updates to allow officials to concentrate on the case.
If you’d like to see the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners suspend Kristen Lindsey’s license to practice veterinary medicine permanently, please sign and share this petition.