Someone shot Skitter the cat. Its owners want to know why.

Skitter the cat recovers from a bullet wound at a veterinary clinic in Wasilla, Alaska.
Skitter the cat recovers from a bullet wound at a veterinary clinic in Wasilla, Alaska.(Diana | Diana Miller)
Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 5:17 PM AKDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 10:20 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Diana Miller of Wasilla has waited cautiously for news that one of her family pets, a cat named Skitter, will be okay after emergency surgery to repair a bullet wound.

On Sunday evening, Skitter hadn’t come in from outdoors as usual. When he finally did show up he was unable to walk well and was covered in blood, Miller told Alaska’s News Source in an interview Wednesday.

“If it was accidental and people are just accidentally shooting out there while they’re target practicing, that’s a huge concern,” Miller said.

Miller lives on about five acres in a Wasilla neighborhood, with a bike path nearby. On weekends she’s often outside with her cats, and it isn’t unusual for her grandchildren to also be in the yard when they visit, she said.

“It just sent chills down my spine when I thought that one of them could have been out there playing with those kitties at that point in time. It still scares the hell out of me,” Miller said. “I feel like I live in an area where I’m going to have to start carrying a weapon on me just to go out and enjoy my yard. It’s kind of a scary situation.”

Sunday, as a thunderstorm rolled through the Valley, Miller was able to bring in her other pets for the night, but Skitter was missing. She doesn’t recall hearing a gunshot, but the wound was obvious to her husband after the couple brought the cat indoors, Miller said.

As of Wednesday, Skitter had come out of surgery at the Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center in Wasilla to repair his leg, but still wasn’t eating well and was in need of a blood transfusion, Miller said. She added that Skitter’s emergency care bill is climbing by the thousands and that he has a two-month recovery ahead of him.

The veterinary clinic did not immediately return a call to Alaska’s News Source about Skitter, his condition or their findings, but Miller said the veterinarian who performed the surgery removed shrapnel and ruled out a BB gun as the weapon.

Miller said she called the Wasilla Police Department, which referred her to Matanuska-Susitna Borough Animal Shelter. She plans to work with the department in hopes they’ll open an investigation. She’d like to know whether it was an accidental shooting, or if someone is targeting pets.

Matt Hardwig, chief animal care and control officer for the Mat-Su Borough, told Alaska’s News Source it’s rare for a pet to be struck with a projectile while on their own property.

He did not have enough information about Miller’s situation to comment on it specifically.

Speaking broadly, he said pet owners are often in violation of borough code that requires all domestic animals to be under restraint at all times.

Regardless, he also said it’s not permissible to shoot a domestic animal like a cat or a dog merely because it’s trespassing.

“It’s not legal nor is it acceptable to shoot an animal just because it’s on your property,” Hardwig said, adding that people who harm animals, depending on the situation, can face animal cruelty charges.

Miller believes Skitter was likely injured on the family’s acreage, since the cat was able to make his way back home, where he’s very much loved by Miller and her husband, whose children are now grown.

“We just love every one of them,” Miller said of Skitter and her other cats. “My husband and I are elderly. He’s retired. I work part time, and they’re our kids. They’re our family.”

Correction: This article has been updated to correct a direct quote from Diana Miller.

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