Bizarre sight in Tuscarawas County: Leashed cat on hood of moving SUV
NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio -- Polly Vandall said she was sitting in her car at the busy intersection of Broadway Street and Front Avenue Monday when she saw something she could hardly believe.
Balanced on the hood of a moving SUV was a cat on a leash. She started taking pictures.
"Immediately, I was thinking 'How in the world did that cat get on there?'" Vandall said. "I don't believe she drives around town with a cat on, you know? I thought there's probably a really good story behind this."
Vandall said she took the photos because she didn't think anyone would believe her. She posted the pictures on her Facebook page and they went viral.
Dispatchers at the New Philadelphia Police Department, unaware anything had even happened, started getting phone calls.
"There was a lot of outrage that wanted these people hunted down, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and should never own a pet. It was pretty ugly on that end," said Police Chief Michael Goodwin. He said he had to go to Facebook himself to see what people were calling about.
"It's definitely strange. Part of my concern was the cat was on a leash and he may have been secured, but if there had been a sudden stop or an impact or something the cat could very easily have fell off the hood of the car and under the wheel of the car," Goodwin said.
"Twenty-five years here in this city and that's the first time I have ever seen that. We see a lot of strange things and just when you think you have seen it all, another day rolls by," the chief added.
His sentiments were echoed by Lindsey Lewis, director of the Tuscarawas County Humane Society, who said when she first saw the photos, she questioned whether they were real.
"It is definitely real," Lewis said. She also calls them "disturbing," and worries the unusual sight would distract other drivers.
"The cat can fall off and be dragged or caught in the tire," Lewis said.
The photos all show the gold-colored SUV from the side with the license plate out of view. A passenger, who appears to be holding the leash, can be seen in Vandall's pictures.
"I have mixed emotions because I feel like I caught this woman five seconds in the middle of a situation where I don't know the beginning and I don't know the end," Vandall said.
"If the people are found, I would be very curious as to why the cat would be on the hood and would definitely need some kind of warning," Lewis said.
Both the humane society director and the police chief said it would be difficult, under the circumstances, to make a case for animal cruelty. But Lewis said she would definitely have a humane officer visit with the people responsible and caution them never to do it again.
"I feel judging her is not my place, you know? I feel like a cat's place is not on the hood of a car," Vandall said.
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