Former Brenham Veterinarian Will Not Face Charges in Cat's Death

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BELLVILLE, Texas - A former Brenham veterinarian will not face charges after bragging about killing a cat with a bow and arrow

An Austin County Grand Jury declined to indict Kristen Lindsey.

News 3 was in Bellville as protesters demonstrated, hoping to have justice for the cat.

The conclusion to an alleged animal cruelty controversy played out at the Austin County Courthouse where a grand jury no billed Dr. Kristen Lindsey.

Her case was presented Wednesday, two months after the former Brenham veterinarian posted a photo on Facebook showing her killing a cat with an arrow in its head.

The cat is believed to be Tiger, an orange tabby that went missing around the same time of the post. Amy Hemsell was Tiger's pet sitter for three years.

"He loved everybody, he loved everything. He always greeted me, he was my protector out on the farm," said Hemsell.

She's shocked by the grand jury's decision.

"We were in disbelief you know we weren't sure what more evidence that they needed," she said.

Protester Ruby Burney of Hearne just wants answers.

"Why would you do that to a helpless innocent cat?," asked Burney.

A roundabout surrounds the Austin County Courthouse and protesters have been on pretty much each corner as the grand jury meets inside. Those outside tell us it's much more than about a cat.

"I was a federal agent 32 years in law enforcement and I know that serial killers start with animals," said Lynne Jennings, Director of K-9 Airlift.

Austin County District Attorney Travis Koehn says there was not enough evidence to prove the cat was killed in a cruel manner, where or when it was killed or even confirm the cat's identity. Koehn says no further criminal action will be taken.

But at least one protester says the fight is not over

"The movement on animal abuse is growing and it can't be denied and so with Tiger's death it has brought much awareness, much needed awareness," said Gisele Flanigan, a True Blue Animal Rescue Volunteer.

Neither owner of the Brenham clinic that fired Lindsey were available to give us reaction to the grand jury's decision.

Earlier Coverage
The Austin County Grand Jury returned with a "no bill" Wednesday against former Brenham veterinarian who bragged about killing a cat with a bow and arrow.

That means Kristen Lindsey will not be charged.

Lindsey posted a picture on Facebook in April of her holding the cat up with an arrow through its head. That photo cost Lindsey her job in Brenham and sparked outrage from animal rights activists.

In Lindsey's post, she noted that she thought it was a feral cat, but some believe it was a missing cat named Tiger.

According to a press release, the Austin County District Attorney’s Office says there was not enough evidence to prove the cat was killed in a cruel manner, where/when it was killed or to even confirm the identity of the cat.

Press Release from Austin County DA's Office
The investigation of Kristen Lindsey for charges of Animal Cruelty was presented to the Austin County Grand Jury on June 24, 2015. The Grand Jury returned a "No Bill" in this case. A finding of "No Bill" indicates the Grand Jury examined all the evidence and determined there was insufficient proof to charge Kristen Lindsey with a crime.

The Brenham Police Department initially referred the case to the Austin County Sheriff's Office based upon one unsworn hearsay report that Lindsey may have acted to protect her pets from a potentially rabid stray cat in Austin County. After a thorough investigation, Sheriff's Office investigators were unable to confirm where or when the incident took place. Without this information, officers lacked probable cause to obtain a search warrant for any Austin County properties in this matter.

It is a defense to an Animal Cruelty charge if a person is protecting his or her own pets from an attack.

Although evidence is insufficient that an offense occurred here, both Austin and Washington counties are suffering from an outbreak of rabies cases, and at least one local resident is currently undergoing treatment after contact with a rabid animal. Residents are encouraged to vaccinate all pets.

Subpoenas to Facebook failed to produce useable evidence, as the account was deleted the same day law enforcement became aware of the matter. Without more information, the State lacks proof that this incident even occurred in the state of Texas. ln some jurisdictions of the United States, hunting stray cats is expressly permitted. In the state of Wyoming, for example, citizens are permitted to hunt stray cats all year with very little restriction. [W.S. 23-1-101(a XviiiXA); W.S. 23-3-103].
lf the State could prove an incident did occur in Texas, Texas Penal Code 42.092 essentially requires the State to prove that either 1) a defendant killed a stray cat in a cruel manner, or 2) a defendant killed a cat without the owner's consent.

First, the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines state that physical methods of killing animals such as a gunshot or bolt to the head can be humane when done correctly. (A.V.M.A. Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, 2013 Ed., at 11-12). When performed properly, the animal may exhibit involuntary movements but is unaware and unable to experience pain. (A.V.M.A. Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, 2013 Ed., at 16). Evidence is insufficient, based on the online photograph alone, to determine whether the animal was killed in a cruel manner.

Second, investigators were never able to positively confirm the identity of the cat seen in the social media photograph. Although one witness believes the cat to be a pet named 'Tiger," three different area residents had fed similar looking cats at one time or another that had no collar and had strayed. Evidence was insufficient to positively identify an owner for the cat in the online photograph.

The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has the sole decision-making authority as to whether Kristen Lindsey retains her veterinary license. The Austin County District Attorney is not involved in that decision.

Animal Cruelty is a disgusting and reprehensible act that the Austin County District Attorney's Office strongly condemns. Contrary to some reports, this office has prosecuted and convicted Animal Cruelty
offenders in the past. However, the duty of this office, and the duty of the Grand Jury is to make decisions based on the law and evidence in each individual case.

The Austin County District Attorney's office appreciates the hard work done by the Sheriff’s Office and the diligent service of the members of the Grand Jury and their careful review of the evidence. No further criminal action will be taken in this matter.

Group of protesters seeking #JusticeForTiger gathered across the street from the Austin County Courthouse in Bellville.