CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – Valerie Young and her son, Ryland Mills, were celebrating Halloween Tuesday — trick or treating, handing out candy — with kids flooding their neighborhood.
During the excitement of the holiday, the unthinkable happened.
“We were outside with our neighbors handing out candy on the front porch,” said Young. “We had small children on our front porch, you know everybody is out playing, having a wonderful time, and then we thought we heard some firecrackers.”
Young said initially they didn’t think anything was wrong until they realized the family cat, Penny, was acting strange.
“We came home and he opened up the door and she went running straight down to the basement, [she] wouldn’t come up to anybody and that’s very unlike her,” Young said.
“When I came home and noticed that this cat was in, and found it was Penny, I was devastated,” said Mills.
Young said she knew they needed to take Penny to the vet, but once they got there, they received devastating news.
Penny had been shot.
“He was like, ‘I don’t really know how to tell you but your cat has been shot,’” Young said.
Penny had to be put down due to the severity of her injuries.
As the family mourns the loss of their beloved pet, they’re also worried for their own safety.
“I heard gunshots in my head,” said Mills. “I didn’t feel safe, I wanted to make sure the doors were locked, I wanted to make sure I had all my animals.”
“He went trick or treating just 15 minutes before that, up there by himself, not once did it ever occur to me that he could’ve been shot,” Young said.
The family said they have filed a police report with the Christiansburg Police Department.
In Virginia, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for any animal cruelty charges on someone’s first offense, punishable with a fine up to $2,500 and up to a year in prison.
Repeated animal cruelty charges can lead to a Class 6 felony and up to 5 years of prison.