AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas veterinarian who killed a cat with an arrow and boasted about it on Facebook learned Tuesday that she's been suspended from practicing medicine for a year and will face four years of professional probation.
Shortly after Kristen Lindsey posted a photo to Facebook in April 2015 showing a dead orange cat dangling by its head, which was impaled with an arrow, the image caused outrage among animal advocates across the USA. When the owner of Washington Animal Clinic in Brenham, Texas, where she had worked for two years, discovered the item, he fired her.
Her post read: "My first bow kill lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through its head! Vet of the year award… gladly accepted."
While a grand jury in the state capital decided two months later that it had insufficient proof to bring criminal charges, a complaint to Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners resulted in a professional investigation and hearings to determine whether the Colorado State University graduate could keep her state animal-medicine license.
One of Lindsey's co-workers told the board she had overheard Lindsey, who was not at Tuesday's hearing, speaking with her boss and landlord who told her to "take care of the cat," which apparently came onto Lindsey's property several times.
"What I understood him to mean was for Kristen to shoot the cat," Karen Chapman said. "People do that all the time in Washington County."
Lindsey's lawyer, Brian Bishop, defended the veterinarian's actions, saying that feral cats carry disease and get into fights. She was protecting her own cat, he said.
A lawyer for the Animal Legal Defense Fund told the board that Lindsey's actions were not in keeping with the values that veterinarians hold dear.
"Her understanding of how to deal with stray cats failed to comply with Texas law, failed to comply with the standards of veterinary practice here in the state of Texas, and that is, of course, her responsibility that she has to live up to," defense fund lawyer David Rosengard said.
In August, the State Office of Administrative Hearings recommended a one-year suspension of Lindsey's license and an additional four years on probation. Members also recommended continuing education and 100 hours of community service.
The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners decided to accept those recommendations at Tuesday's hearing. Lindsey has had an active veterinary license with no disciplinary actions noted as her case has made its way through the system. The board's database of licenses had not been updated with the suspension as of Tuesday afternoon.
Board members previously heard testimony from members of a family that claimed the cat was theirs and was neutered. Claire and William Johnson said they owned the ginger cat shown in Lindsey's photo and that it was named Tiger; the board found that to be true.
Earlier this year, Lindsey had said she had been unemployed since she was fired from Washington Animal Clinic but animal activists continued to say they want Lindsey's license revoked for at least five years.
"The Animal Legal Defense Fund is deeply disappointed by the Veterinary Board’s decision to only temporarily suspend Kristen Lindsey’s veterinary license," spokeswoman Natalia Lima said in an emailed statement. "This slap on the wrist pales in comparison to the egregious felony cruelty that Ms. Lindsey committed against a defenseless cat."