A cat who made headlines this month after allegedly holding its owners, baby and family dog hostage, prompting a 911 call; has returned home and will undergo therapy with Animal Planet’s Jackson Galaxy, host of “My Cat from Hell.” Lux the Cat became an Internet sensation as pet owners nationwide tried to fathom a 22-pound, Himalayan cat becoming aggressive, terrorizing his owners, and needing to be removed from the home by police. After calls for an investigation into possible animal abuse, the Multnomah County Animal Services (who had taken Lux in after the incident) found no signs of abuse or neglect and returned Lux back to the cat’s owners: Teresa Barker and Lee Palmer. Some who followed the news story felt that Lux should be rehomed and expressed disappointment that Lux has returned home.
At issue is the account that Lux the Cat had dug a claw into the family’s 7-month-old son’s forehead, prompting father Lee Palmer to kick the cat off his child. It was after this incident that the cat became aggressive and the family fled for safety in a room. The incident occurred on March 9, 2014, in Portland, Oregon; Lux went to the Multnomah County Animal Shelter (MCAS) on March 17, 2014. The controversy focuses on the admission that Palmer kicked the cat off the child as many animal activists feel that was a case of abuse. Others disagree and feel that Palmer did what he felt was needed at the time and that working with a pet therapist and Jackson Galaxy’s intervention are appropriate steps in curbing behaviors on all parties involved that attribute to cat aggression.
Multnomah County Animal Shelter has been fielding public complaints and anger for their decision not to permanently remove Lux from Barker and Palmer. Multnomah County Animal Shelter shared the following response to those critical of Lux’ return home on their official Facebook page.
“Multnomah County Animal Services is required, by law, to ensure that animals in our county are provided with certain minimum care requirements, as outlined in our county ordinances. The people who work here do so because they love animals (we're not here to get rich). As such, we want all the animals in our community to enjoy a lot more than the minimum care described in the ordinances. We want all pets to have love, attention, toys, warm beds and a home they feel safe in. We encourage those things whenever possible and strive to find adopters who can provide these things.
“But we can only enforce those minimum care requirements. And whether we like it or not, the law describes animals as property. Animals can only legally be removed from a home when there is clear evidence of abuse (physical injuries) or failure to provide the animal with those minimum care requirements. Without evidence, we can not take action. And in this case, we have uncovered no evidence to show this was anything other than isolated incident. As a law enforcement entity, all of our actions must be based on evidence, not opinion or desire. As passionate animal people, we may not always like this, but these are the laws we must abide by.”
They also elaborated on the case on their official shelter page here: Update: Lux the Cat Returned to Owners.
The update reads in part, “MCAS sent an officer to investigate and learned that on March 9, the couple's baby grabbed onto Lux's tail and the cat responded by scratching the baby. Lux's claw got stuck in the baby's forehead. The baby's father, in an effort to protect his son and get the cat off of the baby admitted to kicking the cat away. He stated that the kick was with a bare foot to the cat's rear end and was not intended to hurt the cat, but rather to protect his son. The cat responded by yowling and became aggressive. What ensued was heard on the 911 tapes that went viral last week.”
Continuing, MCAS stated, “On Monday, March 17th, Palmer and Barker called MCAS and asked that the cat be picked up. Shortly after the cat arrived at our shelter, they decided they wanted to seek professional help from an animal behavior specialist in an effort to keep their cat.”
While the Multnomah County Animal Services reiterates their standpoint that no abuse or neglect were found in the case, some have voiced their opinions on Facebook, alleging the family wants the notoriety that will come through the appearance on Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell.” MCAS also addressed public calls for criminal charges to be filed against Palmer for kicking the cat off the baby.
“The District Attorney found no reason to file charges against Palmer. Because our investigation found no evidence of abuse, and a veterinary examination found the cat to be in good health, there was no reason to prevent the owner from having their cat back,” the MCAS statement reads.
Even though Lux has returned home and camera crews will soon be filming the family’s interaction with the now infamous cat, MCAS states they are not finished working with the family.
The release concludes, “Our investigating officer will follow up to check on Lux in the coming weeks and monitor the situation. Additionally, we have offered to rehome the cat at any time in the future should Palmer and Barker decide that rehoming Lux is in everyone's best interest.”
How do you feel about Lux the Cat returning home and appearing on “My Cat from Hell?” Do you look forward to Jackson Galaxy’s intervention or do you think Lux should have been rehomed?