Local family under fire for Facebook post

by nathan oster

A family with strong ties to the area is under fire this week after a Facebook photo which showed the killing of a cat went viral on social media and made broadcast and print news headlines around the world.

At the center of it all is Kristen Lindsey, who grew up in Greybull and graduated from GHS before embarking on a course to become a veterinarian that led through Colorado State University, where she earned a doctorate of veterinary medicine, and eventually to the town of Brenham, Texas.

Kristen was working at the Washington Animal Clinic when she posted a photo of herself on Facebook holding a cat with an arrow sticking out of its head. She wrote about it in the post, calling it her first bow kill, describing it as a feral tomcat and suggesting that the act was worthy of a vet of the year award. In a later post, she stated that she hadn’t lost her job at the clinic.

But that quickly changed as her post circulated on the Internet. As of Tuesday morning, no charges have been filed against Kristen; the sheriff in the county where Kristin lives in Texas is investigating the matter and plans to present his findings to their county attorney.

But according to online accounts, Kristen has paid a price. She has been fired by the clinic, the status of her license to practice is in question and her actions have been condemned around the world, including by officials at Colorado State, her alma mater. Kristen’s Facebook page, where the post appeared, is no longer active.

Adding fuel to the fire, the cat was reportedly not a feral cat, as Kristen suggested in her post, but rather a neighborhood family’s pet. Several Facebook pages have since been created as a tribute to the cat and to increase awareness about animal cruelty.

Kristen was not available for comment this week, nor were her parents, Jack and Becky Lindsey, who are longtime Big Horn County residents.

Becky, the Big Horn County treasurer, has also been widely criticized online for the role that she played in the matter. The Lindseys were visiting Kristen when the cat was killed, and Becky stated under Kristen’s original post, when questions were raised about its authenticity, that she had taken the picture.

Reached at her office Monday, Becky said the family is not going to comment.

Jerry Ewen, who chairs the three-man Big Horn County Commission, also declined comment.

Becky is among Big Horn County’s longest tenured department heads. After 14 years as the deputy county treasurer, she ran for the top job in 1994 when incumbent George Hoffman did not seek re-election. Becky emerged from a crowded field of four candidates to win the GOP nomination that year. She has not lost an election since, winning her first term in the 1994 general election and re-election in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and, most recently, in 2014, when she ran unopposed.

Since the post, law enforcement in Texas has been made aware of death threats against Kristen, most of them on Facebook, and acts of cyberbullying, not only against Kristen but also against her family in Wyoming.

Felines and Friends of Wyoming has done as much for animals as any organization in south Big Horn County.   Felines and Friends, which rescues all animals and not just cats, strives to reduces overpopulation by spaying and neutering as many pets as it can and by taking in unwanted, abandoned and abused animals. It is 100 percent volunteer and funded by donations.

Barbara Anne Greene of Basin, the founder of Felines and Friends, offered a view of the Lindseys that runs counter to what is being published on Facebook.

“This is so sad for everyone. You are going to have people say it is just a cat but those same people would have a fit if someone did that to their dog or other pet,” said Greene. “Jack Lindsey has brought many a stray kitten to Felines and Friends. They love their animals. That is what makes it harder to believe. A bad decision can change a lot of lives in just an instant.”