The Bentivar Cat Killer

Courteney Stuart has a fairly horrifying article in the current Hook about the shooting death of a cat in a suburban neighborhood north of town. I read the first half of the article when the issue came out last week and figured hey, bummer, some mystery person killed their cat. But then I finished the article tonight, horrified to discover that it’s known who the shooter is: Charlottesville businessman George Seymour, owner of The Import Car Store, on the corner of Hydraulic and 29. He confessed to murdering the cat “because he’d once seen her on his car.”

What a horrible human being. I’d love to see people stop buying cars from him after this. Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos has, mysteriously, only charged the guy with a misdemeanor, rather than a felony; he won’t explain why. Chalk this one up as another gaffe by Camblos? The case goes to trial on June 20.

74 thoughts on “The Bentivar Cat Killer”

  1. There is an orange sign tacked onto a power pole on Hydraulic right across from the Import Car Store saying something to to effect of “Owner of Import Car Store killed neighbor’s cat.” If I had a picture phone, I would have posted it. I’ll get a picture tomorrow.

    Might there be two sides to this story?

  2. That’s awesome. I may have to cruise by there with my camera tomorrow.

    Were it not for his confession, I’d be gentler in my write-up. Given that, I can’t imagine what his other side might be. Self-defense? (He’s comin’ right for us!)

  3. I live not that far from the Bentivar subdivision. I wonder what happens if he sees me walking in the woods? Maybe I shouldn’t wear bright orange — it would only help with targeting.

  4. As a cat owner I think the man is an odious piece of human garbage. I think is speaks a lot to the character of this person that he would shoot a cat simply “because he’d once seen her on his car.” That seems like a pretty flimsy excuse. I’m going to wonder if this person doesn’t have a larger pattern of harming pets (you know what the criminal profilers like to say about people with that sort of history, they’re people to watch out for).

    While I understand that the law treats “companion animals” as property in situations like this, but doesn’t Chalbemarle have a law about discharging a firearm in a residential neighborhood? Lots of large cities have laws against discharging a firearm in a residential neighborhood – and in those cities that offence is a felony. If it isn’t here then I’d like to know why not?

    As a cat owner I will also say with authority that if you have a pet cat it shouldn’t be an outdoor pet. That’s my belief. I’ve heard all the excuses cat owners make for allowing their cats to roam loose. In my opinion it’s simply lazy to allow it. The bottom line is that if a cat owner obtained the cat when it was a kitten- there is absolutely no excuse that the cat should be going outside. (If one adopted the cat after it was an adult, well that’s different – one can’t be responsible for the bad habits a prior owner encouraged ).

    Anyway there are a whole slew of reasons why a cat owner shouldn’t allow their cat to roam outdoors but I won’t go into those here. My cat is an indoor only cat, has never been outside, and doesn’t know what outside means.

  5. this guy is scum. Shouldn’t there be some type of law enforce if he is confessing. If nothing happens, I am sure this will get out and good bye business.

  6. Trvlmn, as for the outdoor cat, my parents have 3 in earlysville. And all are outdoor cats. I guess it is where you are located at. If you live where the houses are 4 feet from each other, then maybe it is a good idea to have an indoor cat.

  7. When you drive by The Import Car Store, roll down your windows and let out a good, loud “MEOW”. We speak for the cats.

  8. While I understand that the law treats “companion animals” as property in situations like this, but doesn’t Chalbemarle have a law about discharging a firearm in a residential neighborhood?

    Excellent, excellent point. i do believe we have just such a law.

    As a cat owner I will also say with authority that if you have a pet cat it shouldn’t be an outdoor pet.

    Unless, of course, it’s a working cat, like a mouser for a barn. As a pet, though, indoor seems like the only way to fly.

  9. From the Albemarle County Code (PDF):

    Sec. 10-107 Firearms–Discharging within residential districts.

    A. It shall be unlawful for any person to discharge any firearm within the boundaries of any residential district within the county; provided, however, that no person discharging a firearm within such a district in defense of person or property as otherwise permitted by law shall be deemed to have violated this section.

    B. Any person violating this section shall be liable for a penalty of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) for each such violation.

    C. For purposes of this section, “residential district” shall mean any district described as VR, R-1, R-2, R-4, R-6, R-10, R-15, PUD or PRD on the official zoning map of the county.

    The question, of course, whether Bentivar qualifies as such a residential district. The zoning services webpage seems to indicate that the zoning map is only available by purchasing it from the Zoning Services office, which perhaps some enterprising reporter will do.

    In other news, the word “zoning” has lost all meaning to me. Zoning zoning zoning.

  10. Discharging a firearm: the article I read claimed a cop/sheriff needed to witness it.

    Animals on other people’s property. Yes, he is scum. And maybe the laws about letting your pet roam onto other people’s property need updating in regard to small pets. Of course, you can’t corral a cat, once you decide it’s an outdoor cat. (I assume everybody knows about the English study showing how many birds housecats kill when let outside… it’s just heaps and heaps, in Brit speak.) Anyway… if you have a couple of pet dogs and they form a pack and start harassing cattle or sheep, the livestock owner has the legal right to shoot your pets. I’m not sure he even needs to give you a warming, assuming he knows they are your dogs. I doubt he has to do it humanely. But these are not neighborly ways, law or no law.

  11. if someone really wanted to put the screws to this guy, they’d forward a link to the hook article to PETA. i’m sure he’d love having them waving signs out in front of his car lot.

  12. I’m buying a used BMW in a couple of weeks. The Import Car Store was at the top of my list for the first place to go. And indeed, I googled them yesterday to look at their inventory online and I did find a used 3 series that I wanted. But then I looked at another hit for the name of the business and stumbled across the Hook article.

    This dude can kiss my $10k goodbye. I will take my business elsewhere. I’ll say what I said in the comments section on the Hook’s website: George Seymour doesn’t place any value on the life of a cat, but I’m proving right now that it’s $10,000.

  13. Don’t tell PETA…he’d probably get more business when a pretty woman in a bathing suit (or less) shows up to picket.

    I think Jack’s got the right idea. Let his business suffer. His personal life can’t be that great if his response the something so minor is so violent. His professional life should be equally miserable.

  14. Waldo already said this, but I’m having a hard time imagining that “the other side of the story” is credible in any way. Decent human beings just don’t shoot a neighbor’s pet cat (and not even kill it outright–this guy wounded the cat and let it drag itself in pain back to its home, and apparently didn’t even care–didn’t alert the owners that their agonized, dying cat could be found somewhere in the yard…). People who think the finish on their fine automobile is worth more than an animal’s life are not decent human beings.

    If I were wealthy enough to buy the kind of car he sells, I’d make a point of not buying it from him and of letting him know that I was not buying it from him.

    I have seen the signs posted at the corners of Hydraulic and 29N–I didn’t think it would be long before they showed up! I’m strongly tempted to scream “murdered” out my window when I drive past.

    The way to hurt his business is (a) to refrain from patronizing it, and (b) to make others who might patronize it uncomfortable or to make them think twice by either picketing with signs or posting signs.

    Down with the Import Car Store!

  15. Frankly, I feel the owners of the cat need to accept some of the blame themselves. Allowing a cat to roam free puts it at risk of death by various means. It also puts the property of one’s neighbors at risk. I have to worry about neighborhood cats ruining my gardens and killing songbirds (native songbirds, at that). While I’d never shoot a cat, I can certainly understand the impulse.

    People get frustrated. Cats are nuisance animals when outdoors, pets when indoors, working animals in a barn.

  16. krasota, who’s to say that they aren’t taking some of the blame themselves? i’d bet a large sum of money that in the moments when they aren’t filled with rage and disgust at their neighbor, they’re beating themselves up over what they could have and should done differently. You see the look on your child’s face when you tell him his pet is dead and believe me, you DO recognize that you might have been able to prevent it and you DO blame yourself. It’s a devastating feeling.

    but accept the blame for the actions of a neighbor who (according to the story) never told the family that their cat was a problem on his property? please. people get frustrated, indeed, but decent people don’t respond in this way.

  17. While I’d never shoot a cat, I can certainly understand the impulse.

    This makes no sense to me. My impulse when I want one of the many stray cats around my place to go away is to say “shoo” or stamp my foot. Anything violent is a completely foreign idea to me.

  18. The impulse is to remove the problem. The neighbor’s impulse was notably more violent than I would choose and certainly deplorable, but it was *his* impulse. Heck, I don’t even like to yell or stamp. I generally opt to see how quickly the cats run when I let my extremely playful and cat-loving dog out in the yard for a chase.

    Yes, the neighbor should have spoken to his neighbors, but did he know it was their cat? Even if he’d known, he may have not bothered to try to chat with the owners. Cat owners are often blind to the problems their free-roaming pets cause. Keep your pets confined, folks, and they shouldn’t get shot by angry neighbors.

  19. Some cat-owners may be blind to or careless of the problems their free-roaming pets cause, but you’ll never know whether or not a particular cat-owner is, unless you ask. If Seymour never bothered to find a less violent means to solving his problem–like talking to all his neighbors to find out whose cat it was and asking them to keep it away from his car–then shame on him, and on anyone who defends his actions. It’s just morally lazy to say to oneself “aw, those damn cat-owners never respond anyway, I’ll just shoot the damn thing.”

    Seems to me that anyone who has a gun and routinely uses it (the story said that guns had been fired on Cat-Killer’s property before) has a responsibility to use the gun wisely and with maturity. To me, that means not shooting what any reasonable person would have to assume is a family pet–if not your direct neighbor’s pet, then one from the general neighborhood. I’ve never seen a feral cat lounge on a car in a driveway; I think most people can tell which cats belong to someone and which ones are feral. So what if he didn’t know it was the pet of the neighbor on that exact side? He surely knew it was the pet of someone, and still he decided to wound it and leave it to die. This impulse is not comprehensible to me.

  20. The impulse is to remove the problem. The neighbor’s impulse was notably more violent than I would choose and certainly deplorable, but it was *his* impulse.

    It’s illegal. You address this like cat-shooting is a matter on which intelligent minds may disagree.

  21. Of course intelligent minds can disagree on any issue. It’s the dumb folks in total agreement. Illegal? So what? Is anybody aware of the Rule of Law debate going on in the country? Remember Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat. Poor guy. I mean, poor kitty cat.

  22. It is illegal, that’s true, and it’s also true that as a nation–or at least the nation that’s embodied by our present administration–seems to be taking more and more license with the rule of law, but I’m even more concerned with what’s decent (for lack of a better word–“moral” or “ethical” also comes to mind). We all have to live together. Actions like Seymour’s say “I don’t care about you” in a fundamental way. Mortally wounding someone’s pet–that’s just not how human beings should treat one another.

  23. Salon.com advice columnist Cary Tennis addresses a similar problem today. A reader asks if he may kill a cat that shits in his yard every night. Cary responds that, no, he may not, and that it is always ethically wrong to kill another person’s house pet for such an offense. The article is followed by a lengthy discussion on the topic that may prove interesting. The best piece of advice that I’ve seen in the discussion is to get a trap. Once the offending cat has been trapped it can be returned to its owners (which can presumably be determined from its tags) along with a stern warning about sitting on cars.

  24. Folks,

    The Import Car Store has a web site and an email address. I suggest that everyone who might have bought a car from them should drop a friendly email to let Mr. Seymour know why they won’t be spending their money at his business.

    You can say hi to him at: TheImportCarStore2004@YAHOO.COM

  25. Oh, and for those who prefer not to use email, the phone number for The Import Car Store is 978-4294. I post it here because I think it’s important for each of you to get both sides of the story. Perhaps you may wish to give Mr. Seymour a phone call to talk to him about shooting his neighbor’s cat. It would be wrong to jump to conclusions before each and every reader of cvillenews.com has had a chance to discuss the matter with the accused party.

  26. I should take this opportunity to strongly discourage anybody from sharing information about Mr. Seymour’s home contact information. His home presumably houses his family, who we must assume has nothing to do with this. They have a right to be free of public inquiry, which they may well see as intimidating.

  27. Today’s Hook has a follow-up in which Seymour’s “side” of the story is presented, through his lawyer (Seymour is not talking–let the lawyer take care of it, I guess). The new issue doesn’t seem to be up online yet, but the gist of Seymour’s side is thus:

    1. he was “simply trying to protect his expensive auto fleet from…Carmen.”

    2. he “concedes that Carmen wasn’t on a Seymour car at the time of the shooting.”

    3. he told his lawyer, “I saw the cat, I impulsively picked up my gun, and I trained it on him to shoot to kill.”

    4. his lawyer says Seymour “harbors great remorse,” but the Hook points out that Carmen’s owners/family have “received no contact from any of the Seymours since the shooting.”

    5. his lawyer said Seymour said he’s “having bad deams about this whole thing” [poor thing–do those dreams compare to the nightmares the kids are having?] and “I’m being made out to be someone I’m not.” I like that last bit particularly; he’s made himself out to be (no passive voice, please, you’re not a victim Mr. Seymour) someone who can’t control his impulses enough to stop from grabbing a gun and shooting a cat. No one’s making him out to be that kind of person–he did it himself.

  28. could the cat owners sue him for destruction of property?

    Probably, but there wouldn’t be much point to it. As “property”, a cat isn’t worth much, is it? Anybody can get a cat for free.

  29. The contact info I posted for The Import Auto Store came directly off of their website. They are deliberately publicizing this email address and phone number. Certainly I agree that calling his house and bothering his wife and kids would be totally inappropriate and wrong.

  30. I meant to mention earlier, he may have a mouse farm out there in Bentivar. That would explain needing to kill the marauding predator kitty cat that was stalking his livestock.

    Bentivar is just upstream from where the South and North Forks of the Rivanna come together. There are supposed to be some old canal bits and pieces, mainly just scrapes in the rocks, I think. It’s in one of the The Virginia Canals & Navigations Society books. The other side of the river should be around Gasoline Alley, of Northside Ministries, on E. Rio Rd.

  31. His lawyer said Seymour said he’s “having bad deams about this whole thing” and “I’m being made out to be someone I’m not.”

    The bad dreams aren’t becaue of killing the cat but the whole mess this has put him in and the very bad publicity that this might cause and/or hurt his business.

    Frankly, I feel the owners of the cat need to accept some of the blame themselves. Allowing a cat to roam free puts it at risk of death by various means.

    I think when your neighbor mortally wounds your pet, any and all responsiblity you had as a pet owner is (or should be) abrogated.

    There are right and wrong ways to deal with these sort of disputes. A talk with your neighbor if one knows to whom the offending pet belongs and/or phone call to animal control would’ve been the ‘right’ way.

  32. The Hook is updated now, and the follow-up story I mentioned earlier is available online now.

    In the follow-up, Seymour’s lawyer, Benjamin Dick, makes much of the fact that Seymour is a member of the NRA and supposedly very experienced with guns (the print version seems longer than the online version and goes into more detail about his marksmanship background). This is supposed to comfort us, I gather, in suggesting that Seymour was trying to kill Carmen outright rather than just mortally wound her–he was trying to be merciful and all, see?

    But I keep going back to the impulse angle–he “impulsively picked up [his] gun,” in his own words. Isn’t responsible gun ownership all about moderating your impulses whenever you have a gun at hand? Isn’t there a higher standard you hold yourself to when you have a deadly weapon at hand, a standard that makes you say to yourself “whoa, now, better think first and act second, or maybe even third” (except, of course, in situations when you have reason to believe your life or someone else’s life is in danger–NOT the finish on your fine automobile). I mean, that’s what I’d like to think the NRA is recommending to gun-owners. As opposed to “whoa, something just moved out there–BLAM!”

  33. The idea of reflexively solving a problem by shooting it is frightening. Not to mention reckless.

    Even scarier, it’s that Mr. Seymour shot a black cat after he saw a black cat on his car? Black cats are quite common. Perhaps he didn’t shoot the one that he saw on his car? Or if he knew enough about the cat to positively identify it, wouldn’t he then know it was his neighbors?

    And if his cars were SO important, wouldn’t they be safely stowed in a garage, or, failing that, under a tarp or covering, especially if there had been a problem in the past?

    The Hook follow-up at least gives him a reason… Mr. Seymour isn’t some deranged man killing cats for no reason. But he is obviously a person who solves his problems in a very, very dangerous way.

  34. I also find his defense of “I thought it was a stray” pretty hard to credit. I think most people, particularly ones who live in middle-class subdivisions where there are lots of cats, can tell the difference between a truly feral cat (which you hardly ever see since, being feral, they stay far away from humans) and a domestic pet that roams free. I see cats wandering my neighborhood all the time–I ASSUME they’re all someone’s pets rather than “strays.” Even without collars (which is another thing he says in the print version of the story, he didn’t see a collar on Carmen so BANG), I think any engaged, thinking suburb-dweller would know the animal is likely to be a pet.

    In short, I think he’s full of defensive/CYA bullsh*t when he says “I thought it was a stray.” And the fact that he says he saw the cat, “impulsively” grabbed his gun and shot it further gives the lie to that story–it sounds by his own words like he DIDN’T in fact stop to think any such things about strayness or not-strayness, collar v. no collar–he saw a CAT and that was enough. Which, as dkachur notes, is kind of a scary and somewhat sociopathic way of going through life.

  35. 35 posts in 2 days on this cat’s slaughter! For cvillenews.com, that’s pretty impressive! What couldn’t we do if folks got all worked up about really important matters?

  36. Symp, people get worked up about what they get worked up about. Some events really play to human emotions. You really don’t know what the posters on this thread may already be doing about “really important matters”–you don’t know whether or not they’re all massively busy saving the world in other ways, just as they/we don’t know what the hell you’re up to when you’re not stepping in snidely to put us all down for getting worked up over a cat.

    For the record, I think the Bentivar Cat Killer story is “about” the following things: cruelty to animals (important not only as moral issue in itself but also insofar as I believe cruelty to animals goes hand in hand with a sociopathic predisposition in general), incivility (important insofar as I think it’s increasingly a feature of our self-absorbed, overly individualistic modern American culture and therefore I link it to all kinds of other horrible behaviors), and abuse of the right to bear arms (the problem of lack of impulse control in relation to gun use is particularly alarming to me, and I think it’s an “important matter”).

    When I see 35 posts in 2 days on this issue, I get a giddy feeling of “wow, look at this–posters with whom I’ve sparred in the past agree with me here! Maybe TrvlnMn isn’t so bad!” I feel a sense of community. I feel like it’s something that we can and will build on in the future, probably in response to matters that you would consider more important. In short, I see the glass as half full. And I don’t see the great political work being done by your most recent intervention, wherein you alight from on high to tell us we’re all simps for being roused by this issue.

  37. Cruelty and sociopathic behavior are core issues for society and civilization at large, because they strike deep into the social contract. We are able to accomplish so much as civilized humans because we can walk down the street without looking around every few seconds, making sure no one is about to bludgeon or shoot us.

    The greed of politicians can be handled within the system, but sociopathic behavior is a blow against the system. That is why so many people are so worked up over this.

  38. The Hook follow-up at least gives him a reason… Mr. Seymour isn’t some deranged man killing cats for no reason.

    And oh all the evil I could commit if only ‘a reason’ was needed as justification. And then my how I would enjoy each and every moment and the pain it might cause. But that evil in my case would never be directed at companion animals. They are and should be held harmless.

    I’m going to agree with what people have said about pet owners taking responsiblity for letting their animals roam. It is irresponsible not to do so. If you have a cat that you let roam daily, you’ve shortened it’s life span by about 7 to 10 years ( I read somewhere that the outdoor cat has an average lifespan of about 3 years- which should be compared to the 12 to 15 year lifespan that an indoor only pet has). They’ve shortened the lifespan because of the wide variety of diseases the animal can catch, and/or the environmental factors that could curb it’s lifespan (animal preditors, humans, or humans in cars).

    While I have 2 cats of my own that are strickly indoors. I also take the time and money to feed the strays in my neighborhood. I’ve got a regular bunch that show up over the course of a week. During the year and a half that I’ve been doing so.. 5 out of 11 died from environmental factors (disease and vehicle). Of those 5 none were older than 1 year.

    And I have been able to ‘tame’ a handful (in that they trust me enough to eat from my hand or let me pick them up). Unfortunately outdoor strays don’t always make good indoor pets mainly because they don’t always take to “litter box training”. Which is why I mention my personal exemption for those that may have adopted adult cats (as opposed to kittens where you have the opportunity to shape what they do and do not know as normal).

    I’m also going to stand by my opinion that when your animal is killed by an angry neighbor without any prior consultation from said neighbor- you should get a free pass with regards to any possibly ‘responsiblity’ for having let your animal run free (which you really shouldn’t have allowed to happen to begin with).

    Companion animals give to us the way very few other things in life might (except perhaps ones own children before they hit puberty). And they give to us unconditionally. That alone in my opinion should qualify them for a standard of treatment elevating them above that of personal property (as in furniture or unwanted books).

    When I see 35 posts in 2 days on this issue, I get a giddy feeling of “wow, look at this–posters with whom I’ve sparred in the past agree with me here! Maybe TrvlnMn isn’t so bad!” I feel a sense of community.

    Yes it is nice to see a number of people agreeing on what I consider to be some essential issues of kindness and propriety toward living creatures (though a fair number, such as myself have been multiple posters). And yes Cecil(2) one of my dark secrets has on this thread been exposed. I am a cat curmudgeon with a soft spot and sense of responsiblity toward the treatment of companion animals. Past that I’m just another moderate with opinions that range widely enough to offend everyone equally.

    But then what’s life without a healthy dose of conflict for the purpose of generating discussion?

    And this is the essay I originally wanted to write when I first saw this post, but then I figured I’d just wait.

  39. Well, let me say I’d never own a BMW, but if I was going to, forget this car lot to obtain it! No cat is going to stay on a car when confronted withloud word and a broom! Shooting any animal is totally out of line unless you are going to kill it clean and use the meat. And lastly, prehaps Mr Seymore should head to Iraq for the thrill of firearms use.

  40. Cecile says: “Symp, people get worked up about what they get worked up about. Some events really play to human emotions. ”

    Yes, that’s my whole point! It is certainly a symptom of social immaturity when minor issues supercede major ones.

    FYI We have pets we love very much, including 3 wonderful indoor-only cats. That said, should something happen to them, it will not get my blood boiling like for instance when I visit the UVA Emergency Room and observe the complete mayhem of the medical system. Or for example when I witness teenagers disrespecting their elders. These issues are indicative of profound societal dysfunction and merit all the ink we can waste of them. A single guy nasty enough to shoot a cat on his car should not elicit as much indignation as it is doing, relatively speaking. That’s my point and I believe it’s a crucial one.

  41. If you go to the Albemarle County website and look under the real estate assessment records, you can see that Mr. Seymour’s property is zoned RA. I’m assuming the weapons ordinance does not apply to his zone. I’ve been really mad when a neighbor’s cat left prints on my car, but never mad enough to kill it! I can’t believe he did such a thing. What would he do if a neighbor’s child accidentally hit a ball into his car or through his window?

  42. TrvlnMn,

    I assume everyone else understood this, but I never said that Mr. Seymour’s reason was in any way valid. Just that it was a reason.

  43. This story has given me a new appreciation for the tolerance level in my own, pleasant but not upscale, neighborhood. My neighbors take cute pictures of my cat visiting them, which they share with me. We are in real trouble when worry about possessions results in violence against pets. Since this indecent action was to protect economic interests, it is completely appropiate that this guy’s business should suffer.
    And it does sound like a perfect job for RobBellMan!

  44. Let me start out by saying that I love cats and would never harm one. But I fervently believe that cats need to be kept indoors, both for their own good and that of our wildlife. The American Bird Conservancy and other groups have well-documented evidence of the damage cats cause to native wildlife, both feral cats and pets.
    But Seymour’s action in shooting the cat went far beyond the bounds of reasonableness and human decency. I have a neighbor’s cat that sometimes lurks near my birdfeeders. But a loud noise or a little water from my garden hose sends him scurrying. I might use a Supersoaker but certainly not a firearm.
    This is not the same as a farmer protecting livestock or poultry from marauding dogs. I grew up in the country and it was understood that dogs doing that would get shot. On the other hand, you wouldnt shoot your neighbor’s harmless old houndog who wandered by chasing rabbits or something. What gets me is these cityfolk who say that if they lived in the country they’d let their dogs roam freely. Bad idea, for good neighborly relations. Dogs roaming freely in packs do pose a danger both to livestock, to other pets,and even to humans. We all know about the problems loose dogs cause on the Greenbelt.
    Here in the city we can call Animal Control to deal with these problems. But I must say if I lived in a rural area and saw some mean looking shepherd mixes or pitbulls on my land or eying my calves or chickens, I would reach for the 12 gauge or the thirty-ought-six without a minute’s hesitation.
    But shooting a kittycat because it got on his car, that what we country folk would call “plain lowdown onery and sorry”!

  45. But I must say if I lived in a rural area and saw some mean looking shepherd mixes or pitbulls on my land or eying my calves or chickens, I would reach for the 12 gauge or the thirty-ought-six without a minute’s hesitation.

    I’m with you. Dogs going after livestock are a different situation entirely.

  46. Benjamin Dick is his lawyer! I knew this story reminded me a similar neighbor shooting case, stemming from dispute over over wandering livestock, in Caroline County. In that case the neighbor shot the human. Murder. And Ben Dick got him off. Must be specializing in shooters now.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/18/AR2005051800892_pf.html
    http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2006/04/27/hotseatsaddled.aspx

    I don’t begrudge anybody a lawyer, or any lawyer a client, I’m just trying to make the connection. They could make each other build fences (Va. law that caused the Caroline County dispute).

  47. Hmm, a lot of you are sounding a bit irrational. If you are going to be calling for the boycott and felony charges of a man you don’t know, you should at least give him the benefit of the doub.t

    What is the benefti of the doubt in this case?

    Well to start with, ever rapid post here has assumed that Seymour KNEW the cat belonged to his neighbor. There is no reason to believe this and the hook follow-up article states the cat didn’t even have a collar. (Talk about irresponsible pet ownership, letting your cat outside is bad enough, but letting it out without a collar is really bad)

    So, the reasonable benefit of the doubt would be that seymour thought it was a stray cat that was damaging his property.

    Should he be shooting a wild animal in a neighborhood? I dunno, probably not. Is shooting the animal excessive? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on your point of view.

    But I’m willing to be that VERY FEW OF YOU would be calling for Seymour’s blood if he had shot a raccoon that was damaging his cars. If it is okay, or at least not horrible, for him to be shooting a raccoon or possum damaging his property, then it should be just as okay for him to shoot a wild cat.

    A lot of people are very irrational about animals, thinking that cats or dogs are on some magical level above other animals. But they aren’t and there is no reason to treat them as such UNLESS they are someone’s pet (the reason to treat them better isn’t because the animal changes there, but because there are human feelings involved now).

    So unless it is totally crazy for seymour to believe the collar-less cat was stray, his actions seem pretty justified to me. Maybe extreme and maybe even a bit criminal, but certainly nowhere near felony level.

  48. I’ll repeat what I said in an earlier post–I just don’t find it believeable that he can’t tell the difference between a feral/stray cat and a probable pet. If he says he thought it was a stray, I think he’s making that up after the fact to cover his a$$.

    Moreover, if you read his own words in the Hook follow-up, he says he saw the cat, impulsively grabbed his gun, and shot it. If that’s the case, then he didn’t give himself time to think “gosh, is that a stray or someone’s beloved pet?” that doesn’t even give him time to determine if it has a collar or not, especially if it’s at any distance from him at all. I think the truth is that he did act impulsively, as his own words attest, and therefore he DIDN’T do all this supposedly rational weighing of the facts before calmly deciding that this particular cat was expendable.

    I have all the information I need to never buy a car from him and to tell anyone who’s thinking about buying a used import about this incident.

  49. I’ve been puzzling over this idea of a cat scratching up a car. I have parked many a car at many a cat-owners home, and I’ve never had any trouble. I can’t so much as envision how (or why) a cat would do such a thing. I’ve had guinea hens peck at my paint. I’ve had peacocks shit on my paint. But cats? They might curl up on the warm hood, but that’s about it.

    Curious, I googled around some. I can’t find any information about cats scratching up or otherwise damaging cars.

    Could somebody please enlighten me? I’m mystified.

  50. I assume everyone else understood this, but I never said that Mr. Seymour’s reason was in any way valid. Just that it was a reason.

    Yeah, I understood that. But I figured I’d just go ahead and use an example to illustrate a point in case anyone didn’t get it.

    Hmm, a lot of you are sounding a bit irrational. If you are going to be calling for the boycott and felony charges of a man you don’t know, you should at least give him the benefit of the doub.t

    What is the benefti of the doubt in this case?

    I don’t think I’m at all being irrational. I’m expressing my OPINION as defined by my personal values. I don’t feel a pressing need for people to agree with them (but if they do.. hey that’s great!). I don’t need to be right or fair. And why should I give him the benefit of the doubt? The dead cat won’t get a 2nd chance at being the family pet will it? No.. can’t undo that can of worms. And you know rapists and pedophiles don’t get the benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion. So I see no reason that companion animal killers should be any different.

    Yes perhaps that is an inflamitory and extreme position to take. So be it.

    As for the damage that a cat might cause to a car… using that rational (sp?), I’m going to be petty and suggest that I don’t like the fecal hazards that birds do to my car (which is one of the pluses in my book toward the benefits that cats do to the environment- not all of us are enamored of songbirds). My downstairs neighbor has a bird feeder- and I find an excess of bird poo all over my car and porch. So I return the favor and feed the strays. :)

    Point is this issue can be argued any way one might like to. There’s a right and wrong way to deal with issues in a society of laws. The right way would be to a) talk to the neighbor if you know it’s their cat and if you don’t (or don’t want to talk to the neighbor) then to b) call animal control.

    ..

  51. But I’m willing to be that VERY FEW OF YOU would be calling for Seymour’s blood if he had shot a raccoon that was damaging his cars. If it is okay, or at least not horrible, for him to be shooting a raccoon or possum damaging his property, then it should be just as okay for him to shoot a wild cat.

    Raccoons and Possums are “wild animals.” Chances are they are more likely NOT to be, or have been, someones pet. Wild or more accurately “Feral” cats are that way as a result of human irresponsiblity. They or their forbears were once some lazy irresponsible asshole’s pet. In my book that adds an additional level of responsiblilty on the part of humans. They wouldn’t have existed naturally in the environment were it not for that individuals neglect.

    It might not make a (or be a significant) difference to you. And that’s fine with me. But that’s my take on it.

  52. I don’t think I’m at all being irrational. I’m expressing my OPINION as defined by my personal values.

    You seem to be implying that opinions aren’t irrational. I’d suggest that opinions are more often than not irrational. But that’s another discusison.

    And you know rapists and pedophiles don’t get the benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion. So I see no reason that companion animal killers should be any different.

    This is a huge problem though, not something to be emulated. We have a shitty situation where merely being accused of rape or peodophila, no matter how filmsy the evidence and no matter if you are proven not guilty or not, will cause tons of people to attack and slander you.

    We have a “innocent until proven guilty” set up for a reason.

  53. Raccoons and Possums are “wild animals.” Chances are they are more likely NOT to be, or have been, someones pet. Wild or more accurately “Feral” cats are that way as a result of human irresponsiblity. They or their forbears were once some lazy irresponsible asshole’s pet.

    I’m not sure I understand your point.
    Since feral cats aren’t natural to the enviornment we should treat them better than wild animals?

    I would think the opposite would be true, especially since feral cats are devestating to the natural ecosystem (esp. songbirds)

  54. You seem to be implying that opinions aren’t irrational. I’d suggest that opinions are more often than not irrational. But that’s another discusison.

    Fair point. I however do think my opinions are rational. As they are based upon what is proper or appropriate for people who agree to live in a society of laws and abide by them, as well as what I believe constitutes appropriate treatment based on how I would like others to treat me.

    We have a shitty situation where merely being accused of rape or peodophila, no matter how filmsy the evidence and no matter if you are proven not guilty or not, will cause tons of people to attack and slander you.

    Very true. An in this instance I do not claim to be a better person than any of the other ‘general public’ quick to form an opinion in one of those other situations. The sole difference in this instance being unlike one of those other situations (rape or pedophilia) in this instance we have a confession of guilt.

    And in personal experience I know that there’s really not a whole lot of damage that can be caused by cat claws on a car.

  55. I’m not sure I understand your point.

    My point is that man has a greater responsiblity with regards to feral cats because they are not natural to the environment, because they are there as a result of mans wanton neglect.

    Where as Possum’s and Raccoons were wild and a product of the natural environment without mans initial interference.

    Additionally one’s distress about the damange that feral cats may cause to the population of birds… depends on whether or not one feels sympathetic to the plight of birds. (I don’t. And that’s just one of my idosyncracies.)

    The feral cat population was caused by man. The damage they do is a direct result of man’s irresponsiblity. In that situation I think man has a responsiblity to take the higher road with regards to what was (if it isn’t currently) a former companion animal.

    And if you don’t understand the point as I have attempted to make here, well then I think you’re being purposefully obtuse.

    Just my opinion.

  56. as well as what I believe constitutes appropriate treatment based on how I would like others to treat me.

    But we aren’t talking about how others should treat you, rather how they should treat stray animals.

    The point I was trying to make was merely that there is no reason, based on the evidence we have, to assume he knew this was his neighbors cat. So assuming he thought it was a stray, what is so wrong about shooting it? Would you attack him for shooting a stray possum? Would you attack him as vigorously? If not, why?

    And in personal experience I know that there’s really not a whole lot of damage that can be caused by cat claws on a car.

    I can’t say I have the slightest idea how much damage a cat could do to a car. It would be good to ehar some solid evidence on this. I’ve seen cats destroy couches and such, but that doesn’t mean thye can do damage to paint or not.

  57. And if you don’t understand the point as I have attempted to make here, well then I think you’re being purposefully obtuse.

    Not really, you have simply made several logical leaps that don’t make inherent sense.

    Why would the fact that the feral cat problem is caused by humans mean that humans should treat cats better than other animals?

    I think common sense would dicatate the opposite, we should be more willing to kill them and thus work towards “fixing” the problem.

  58. The point I was trying to make was merely that there is no reason, based on the evidence we have, to assume he knew this was his neighbors cat. So assuming he thought it was a stray, what is so wrong about shooting it?

    See I’ve made my point crystal clear on this specific issue when I said:

    There’s a right and wrong way to deal with issues in a society of laws. The right way would be to a) talk to the neighbor if you know it’s their cat and if you don’t (or don’t want to talk to the neighbor) then to b) call animal control.

    If he didn’t know it was a neighbors cat then instead of “discharging a firearm in a residental neighborhood” which is a felony in many cities (and if it’s not in Virginia it should be) and killing what turned out to be a neighbor’s pet which is illegal as Waldo pointed out above… then he should’ve called animal control.

    Fact is I don’t believe that he didn’t know it wasn’t his neighbors pet. I think he did know.

    Would you attack him for shooting a stray possum? Would you attack him as vigorously? If not, why?

    I’ve also already answered this point above. When I said:

    Raccoons and Possums are “wild animals.” Chances are they are more likely NOT to be, or have been, someones pet.

    There is a difference between a raccoon and possum, and something that was at one time someones pet (even if that someone turned out to be a shit and abandoned the pet to become feral).

    And then you say this:

    I think common sense would dicatate the opposite, we should be more willing to kill them and thus work towards “fixing” the problem.

    I disagree with you. I think the approprate action with regards to ferals would be a “catch neuter and release” program. Within that single cat’s life span (which is in the case of outdoor cats between 3 to 5 years) the problem would be solved.

    Or we can go ahead and pass laws like the state of California requiring all companion animals to be neutered or have the owner pay a very steep fee to aquire the equivalent of a breeders license.

    … you have simply made several logical leaps that don’t make inherent sense.

    Well In this instance we will have to agree to disagree. I believe the points I’ve made make lots of sense.

    I don’t believe the option of “lets take a gun and shoot it” is or should be a reasonable option in any situation. If it is then well I’ve lot’s of problems I could solve that way. :P

  59. Bortbot,

    He’s already admitted his guilt. That he ‘impulsively picked up his rifle’ and shot the cat. So he gets no benefit of the doubt.

    Yes, dogs and cats do have a ‘magical’ status. Along with a very small group of other chosen animals (such as horses), they hold a special stus in American society. Mainstream American values hold that cats and dogs are to be held above other animals and only to be killed out of mercy or extreme necessity. And it’s only natural to expect that law and the enforcement of the law will reflect those mainstream values which the vast majority of Americans from all political persuasions share.

    He claims to be an experienced marksman and generally educated in the use of firearms. In which case he would absolutely know that it is illegal to discharge a firearm in the City of Charlottesville. Again, he has admitted to committing that crime. Until a few days ago, I lived in the city of Charlottesville and I reluctantly obeyed our firearms laws. So I moved out to the sticks where I can blast away at any reasonable hour.

  60. “There is a difference between a raccoon and possum, and something that was at one time someones pet (even if that someone turned out to be a shit and abandoned the pet to become feral).”

    You stated this, but you haven’t described the difference, or what significance the difference has to this case. There is a difference between everything, obviously… there is a difference between a racoon and a possum or an apple and an orange, but the question si why would having once been a pet give a wild animal more of a right to life?

  61. Jack:

    Yes, but it is an irrational belief and merely arguing that a lot of people hold the irrational belief isn’t a good argument for its worth.

    Yes, the LAW might define it that way, but I was discussing the way things SHOULD be not how they are. How they are can be answered by a lawyer in 2 seconds.

  62. Bortbot, you are arguing that both the law and societal standards are fundamentally wrong, and your ostensibly-pragmatic views are right. While that’s interesting in a philosophical sense, I don’t imagine you’ll convert many people to your viewpoint. It would be sort of like posting in an article about two locals brutally tortured and murdered and pointing out that dozens or hundreds of people died under far worse circumstances in the past few days around the globe, so what’s all the fuss about? Fine, sure, there might be some abstract point, but it’s simply outside of the scope of the discussion, or really any discussion likely to be had by reasonable people.

  63. Bortbot, you are the king of the red herring. You’re focusing on feral cats as if it was plausible that Seymour thought he was shooting a feral cat. His own words give the lie to that alibi–“I saw the cat, I impulsively picked up my gun, and I trained it on him to shoot to kill.” If he grabs his gun and fires upon seeing a cat, he’s not stopping to think, to ponder, to be all rational, to weigh the evidence before him–collar or no collar? well-fed or skinny? glossy coat or unkempt? relaxed, i-live-here attitude or darting, furtive, wild-animal manner?

    Nope: I saw a cat, I grabbed my gun and shot it. I didn’t stop to think, I just fired away. So take the whole feral-cat issue off the table–he didn’t think he was shooting a feral cat, he didn’t think at all beyond “cat–kill it!”

  64. Borbot wrote:

    You stated this, but you haven’t described the difference, or what significance the difference has to this case.

    Yes I did describe the difference in one several of my prior posts on this thread.

    But for the heck of it I’ll bring up again this quote from one of those posts:

    Raccoons and Possums are “wild animals.” Chances are they are more likely NOT to be, or have been, someones pet.

    And just to beat a dead horse since you seem to be having difficulties with your comprehension of the points I am, and have clearly made.

    Raccoons and Possums started out as wild animals and were not nor have ever been been someones pet (at least not legally in the state of Virginia). The significance between that difference is there is a “chance” a cat might just be someones pet. There’s not that chance with a raccoon or possum.

    The law provides “legal” recourse for dealing with the removal of a nuisance companion animal (in this case a cat) that legal recourse is the “animal control officer.” Not your gun. Thats the law.

    Additionally Cecil(2) makes an fine point when he writes:

    Nope: I saw a cat, I grabbed my gun and shot it. I didn’t stop to think, I just fired away. So take the whole feral-cat issue off the table–he didn’t think he was shooting a feral cat, he didn’t think at all beyond “cat–kill it!”

    Borbot you again ask:

    but the question is why would having once been a pet give a wild animal more of a right to life?

    To which I point you to these quotes from my prior posts:

    “Feral” cats are that way as a result of human irresponsiblity. They or their forbears were once some lazy irresponsible asshole’s pet. In my book that adds an additional level of responsiblilty on the part of humans. They wouldn’t have existed naturally in the environment were it not for that individuals neglect.

    And this quote of mine:

    The feral cat population was caused by man. The damage they do is a direct result of man’s irresponsiblity. In that situation I think man has a responsiblity to take the higher road with regards to what was (if it isn’t currently) a former companion animal.

    That in my opinion is what should give them “more of a right to life” then your average wild animal (Raccoon or Possum for example).

    You may not agree with my position, and that’s fine. Intelligent people disagree on a great many issues. But I have covered in prior posts the points you say I did not. To say that I have not is blatantly disingenuous.

  65. has anyone ever read “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery? I think TrvlnMn is making a point similar to one made in that (sweet, charming, profound) book.

    If you recall, the fox asks the little prince to tame him, so that the fox will have someone in the world who is special to him (“…if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow”). So the little prince tames him, but then the time comes for the little prince to leave, and so the fox gives him the gift of a “secret”:

    “‘Men have forgotten this truth,’ said the fox. ‘But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.'”

    I’ve always understood that as a moral and ethical commandment to take care of the things that you’ve established relationships with–if you make something depend on you or love you, then you have a responsibility to care for them. It’s an imperative that is opposed to casting things off when they no longer suit or serve your immediate purposes. And I think that TrvlnMn might be making the point that, in a larger sense, human society is responsible for what it has tamed–we’ve domesticated dogs and cats and we use them as companion animals. Feral cats are evidence of how we’ve failed to be responsible for what we’ve tamed. To live up to our responsibility to them, we have to treat them differently than we treat raccoons and possums. Cats are different from raccoons and possums because we (the human collective) have established a different relationship with them. Forever after, we have a different responsibility to care for them.

    Just a little philosophical musing in the guise of a children’s book published in 1943 and written by a French aviator.

  66. Repeatedly. (In English and in French!) Though I understand I’m wandering off topic here, my favorite line from it has long been this:

    “I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved any one. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you: ‘I am busy with matters of consequence!’ And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man–he is a mushroom!”

    I quote that last sentence whenever possible. :)

  67. It took me a long time to realize that my moral compass was essentially set in middle school when I first read The Little Prince. The businessman who “owns” the stars (because he had the idea first, so therefore they are his) (and all he does with his wealth of stars is count them and write the number down on a piece of paper that he keeps in the bank); the geographer who won’t trust the word of explorers about what is in the world but who also won’t leave his desk to find out for himself; all the “adults” the little prince meets who are obsessed with pointless and un-beautiful things. And how the little prince loves his rose because she is his and she depends on him.

    And the fox’s three secrets:

    “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
    “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
    “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

  68. Looks like I’ve been missing out, I’ll have to add that title (le petit prince) to my reading list. And Cecil(2) well written. That’s exactly the point I was attempting to make.

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