Investigation underway after home security camera appears to capture owners abandoning cat

FRANKLIN, Ind. -- A home security camera in an alleyway in Franklin appears to capture the moment someone abandons their cat and investigators are looking into possible criminal charges.

The video, posted by the group Johnson County Community Cats, has been shared nearly 1,000 times this week on Facebook. An SUV is shown driving into the alleyway, then the passenger opens the door and appears to open a cat carrier in their lap, dropping the cat out of the carrier and onto the ground. The driver then pulls away, nearly hitting the cat in the process.

Shortly after the video was originally posted, group founder Janet Gorrell and her team found the cat close to where he'd been dropped off.

"He was waiting for someone to come back to pick him up," Gorrell said.

The cat, who has been dubbed "Bernie," has been living with Gorrell. FOX59 went to see him on Friday, just days after he was found.

"He will be easy to find a new home," Gorrell said. "He's adjusting quite well."

Johnson County Animal Control Director Michael Delp has been investigating the incident. Indiana does have a law that says you cannot abandon an animal, but there are exceptions to that law. Delp said that at the very least, what is seen on the video should strike a chord with the public.

"Even if it’s not a legal violation, I think it’s an ethical and moral violation," Delp said.

Delp and Gorrell both pointed out that Bernie was left only two miles from the county's animal shelter, where he could have been safely turned over, or his owners could have accessed services if they were unable to pay for pet supplies.

"Don’t do that, there are options," Delp said. "Explore your options, make a phone call, take an extra five minutes to make an effort to get that cat into a place where it can be re-homed."

While the investigation continues, Bernie will stay with Gorrell. She said that based on his behavior, she believes he was living his life as an indoor cat before he was left outside. Gorrell told FOX59 that she would like to see the state's laws changed to allow for harsher penalties if an animal is abandoned.

"I would say the majority of the cats that we find on the streets have been in this situation and have been dumped," Gorrell said.

Indiana legislators did put a new law into place July 1 that strengthened the punishment for people who have already been convicted in an animal abuse case. The law instructs parole officers to make it a condition that a parolee cannot keep, own or trail an animal.

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