A 54-year-old man who admitted shooting and dismembering a feral cat was sentenced Monday to 30 days in Douglas County Jail as part of five years probation on a felony charge of torturing or injuring an animal.
District Judge Michael Gibbons sentenced Rodney Shoop of Indian Hills to three years in prison, suspended, and placed him on probation. He faced up to four years in prison.
Shoop is to perform 100 hours of community service at an animal shelter and may not possess or come in contact with alcohol, controlled substances or firearms during probation.
The incident took place Feb. 16 at Shoop's residence in the 3400 block of Tourmaline Drive in north Douglas County.
Deputies were called to the residence at 11 p.m. by a neighbor who said Shoop was yelling and possibly chopping up an animal with an ax. He was accused of tossing the animal's head over a neighbor's fence.
Reports indicate that Shoop shot the cat dead under his porch with a shotgun before dismembering the animal.
"The whole incident makes no sense," Gibbons said. "This offense sickened and horrified everybody who heard about it."
Gibbons said he had three cats himself, but lived on a ranch, and knew the kinds of problems animals could cause.
According to Tod Young, Shoop's attorney, the feral cat had attacked Shoop's cat several times, causing injuries and hundreds of dollars in veterinary bills.
"Clearly, it's not good to shoot a firearm in that neighborhood. But he did not shoot at the house. As for the mutilation, the cat was well dead by the time Mr. Shoop cut it up. Alcohol did play a part. This is not a person who has hatred toward animals or cats.
"The cat that died was a feral cat that lived on its own. It repeatedly attacked Mr. Shoop's cat which slept on his bed. The feral cat made its living off catching and eating what it could. Mr. Shoop's cat made its living off Purina and Mr. Shoop."
He said since the incident Shoop was attending 12-step meetings and had undergone mental health evaluations which indicated prior head injuries and a degree of brain damage.
He said Shoop couldn't explain why he dismembered the cat after he shot it.
"After he (Shoop) got healthy, he couldn't explain his nonhealthy behavior," Young said.
Prosecutor Erik Levin said he recommended probation rather than prison because Shoop would be under a longer period of supervision.
Shoop has a felony conviction from 25 years ago of assault with a deadly weapon.
"The problem with prison is that even with the maximum term, he would be paroled in a year or less. Probation has other benefits requiring appropriate treatment, and I can ask for supervision for up to five years which I intend to do," Levin said. "If he fails to comply, you still have the prison option."
"I am sorry for the bad decision I made," he said. "I am sorry for what I did that day."
Shoop said he was sober, following a treatment plan, and there were no weapons or alcohol in his house.
He may not cease counseling without the permission of the court. He is subject to random testing and was ordered to attend at least one 12-step meeting a week and undergoing anger management counseling.
"This is the best chance to make it less likely for this to happen again," Gibbons said.
The judge told Shoop if Douglas Animal Care and Services declined to put him to work, he was to volunteer in Carson City or Lyon County.