Mac man arrested for drowning six cats
The 49-year-old McMinnville resident was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Yamhill County Circuit Court on six counts of aggravated first-degree animal abuse, a Class C felony.
Judge Cynthia Easterday said she would consider a conditional release for Wright, provided he not have contact with any animals. Deputy District Attorney Holly Winter objected.
“These charges are extremely concerning,” she said. “He knew what he was doing was wrong. He told the police he was sorry.”
Wright, who lives at 1650 N.W. Adams St., told Easterday he is a Yamhill County Mental Health client.
She decided to solicit a report from his caseworker on his suitability for release. In the meantime, she set bail at $50,000 and appointed Scott Hodgess of McMinnville to handle his defense.
According to Oregon Revised Statute 167.322, a person commits the crime of aggravated first-degree animal abuse if they maliciously kill an animal or intentionally or knowingly torture an animal.
Malicious is defined as acting out of depravity or reckless and wanton disregard for life. Torture is defined as an action taken for the primary purpose of inflicting pain.
McMinnville police officer Adam Dean gave this account in a probable cause affidavit:
Wright called an acquaintance Sunday to say he had drowned his cats. After interviewing the acquaintance, Dean and fellow officer Ryan Fricke went to Wright’s residence Monday to investigate.
They told him they had come to check on his cats, and he told them he had “put them down” Sunday. He identified them as Ariel, Crystal, Patches, Monkey Face, Squirt and Suzy.
Wright said he filled a garbage can half full of water. He drowned the first two, and placed their bodies in a plastic garbage bag. Then he drowned the remaining four and bagged them up, too.
Dean asked him where he put the bodies, and Wright directed the officers to the back porch. They found the bodies there in a pair of plastic bags.
The garbage can was in the backyard. It still had a small amount of water in the bottom, but the rest had been dumped.
Wright told the officers he couldn’t afford the animals any more.
In that event, Capt. Matt Scales of the McMinnville police said Wright had other options available to him.
“Animal Control does not deal with cats, but there are organizations that will assist in taking care of someone’s animals,” Scales said.
That was confirmed by Dawn Witt of McMinnville’s Homeward Bound Pets.
She said her agency charges $35 to take in a new cat, and there is a waiting list. Other options exist.
“There are a half-dozen or so agencies that he could have been referred to,” Witt said. “We could have given him some alternatives.”
She said the list included the Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood, Newberg Animal Control, the Oregon Humane Society in Portland, the Portland Animal Welfare Team, Salem Friends of Felines and the Willamette Humane Society in Salem.
“Agencies work together to avoid situations like this,” she said. “He should have reached out to someone in the county.”
Witt said Homeward Bound Pets is also willing to provide food for pet owners in need.
“We never turn anyone away who can’t afford food,” Witt said. “We help people all the time with food.”
Anyone who believes they can no longer properly care for a pet, or who needs assistance in carrying out the proper care, should contact Homeward Bound Pets at 503-472-0341.