Steamboat Springs Residents of North Steamboat Boulevard are concerned about letting their cats outside, for fear that their pets will mysteriously disappear or show up on the doorstep with a .22-caliber pellet buried in their skin.
"People in the neighborhood are up in arms about this," said Karen Van Scoyk, a resident of Mountain View Estates.
Within the past six weeks, one of Van Scoyk's cats was shot in the spine and another has disappeared, while the cat of Karen's neighbor, Phil Durian, has been missing since May 5.
"I need help from the community because I don't have any suspects at this time," said Steamboat Springs animal control officer Stacy Hayes.
No witnesses have been identified and residents and authorities speculate that the shootings took place during the day, Hayes said. Durian let his cat out at 8:30 a.m. the day it disappeared, and Van Scoyk let her cat out in the morning when it returned the next morning with a pellet wound.
"I think our cat got shot because he was a cat that didn't roam," Durian said. "It's a real blow because this was a very special cat to our family."
Van Scoyk and Durian don't understand why someone hurt their pets, they said, but they hope to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
"Our first thought was that maybe a coyote got our cat, but it seems like too much of a coincidence that our cat disappeared during the same time that Karen's cat was shot," Durian said. "Something bad is going on up here and it's been going on for some time."
The current rash of incidents is a continuation of mysterious activities in North Steamboat Boulevard that span a four-year period.
A few years ago, Durian's cat survived a pellet wound in the cheek, while during the same time one of Van Scoyk's cats was blinded by a shot to the head and another cat suffered from being shot in the chest.
"I just can't reiterate that to re-live this incident is too much," Van Scoyk said. "I can't take this lightly anymore. Someone is shooting my cats."
About two weeks ago, Van Scoyk's 7-month-old kitten Boomer was let outside in the morning and didn't return during the day. The next morning Van Scoyk's daughter found Boomer hiding underneath a car with a pellet lodged in his spine. The pellet severed his spinal cord, paralyzing him in the waist.
"This is just cruel," Van Scoyk said. "It happened to another being that I care for and this is not acceptable. If the pellet had hit a kid, it could have paralyzed a child."
Van Scoyk left for a vacation and the veterinarian continued monitoring Boomer's internal organs. The veterinarians eventually had to put him to sleep because he could not control his urinary and bowel movements, since he was paralyzed, Hayes said.
"I came home from vacation hoping that our cat would be back with the family, but instead I had to pick Boomer up from the vet and bury him," Van Scoyk said.
Van Scoyk and Durian have contacted the police department and the animal shelter to get help with the problem. Crime Stoppers also is involved. Anyone with information is asked to contact the animal shelter at 879-0621 or Crime Stoppers at 870-NABM.
"If there's a neighbor doing this, then they need to be found because this isn't neighborly," Van Scoyk said. "Excuse me, but what does a cat do to deserve to be shot? If you're having a problem with someone's animal, contact animal control or approach the owner, but don't shoot it."
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