Threatening note leaves Aussie woman fearing for pet cat: 'Mortified'

A Brisbane woman has taken to Reddit to ask for advice on what to do after someone left her a note threatening her pet.

The distressed pet owner, who took in a rescue street cat, posted a snap of a handwritten note which reads: "Control your animals or they will disappear!"

The message was written on the back of a printed-out council information page on responsible pet ownership, which had been highlighted with a yellow fluorescent pen.

The woman expressed frustration that she was not approached or given a chance to rectify the situation before being sent the ominous letter, which she says she received before the October long weekend.

Handwritten note to pet owner which reads
A pet owner from Brisbane sought advice after receiving a threatening note from an angry neighbour. Source: Reddit

Woman 'mortified' over problem cat

She added that another neighbour had just reached out to her over the weekend to tell her about her pet getting into their yard and picking a fight with their cat.

"I was mortified and apologetic (she's a rescue trash cat) and immediately removed the cat flap on the back door and replaced the door so she can't get out, but we had a tradie out leave the garage up and she snuck out," the Reddit user explained.

"I'm annoyed that they sent this out FIRST without approaching me and giving me any opportunity to rectify before the abusive letter," she stated further. "The problem is our house has casement windows and young kids and I'm forever on their case about shutting windows and not leaving doors open."

The woman then asked other Redditors what they thought of a digital fence and, in subsequent edits to her post, refuted allegations of being irresponsible after a number of members in the page slammed her for not installing fixtures to prevent the cat from escaping.

"I'm doing everything in my power to keep her in, wanting suggestions on how to keep her in or if those digital barriers work," she told her critics, explaining that her animals are registered, fully insured and given "premium-quality" food.

"I'm literally trying to act as responsibly as possible here and fwiw don't deserve these kinda threats in the mail when common decency is to raise the conversation first," she argued.

'Off the rails'

Other Reddit users were quite sympathetic to the woman's concerns.

"You're not wrong about your neighbours going off the rails a bit soon. I appreciate what it says about you that you expected Reddit to do better, but the takeaway here is perhaps that, like Reddit, some neighbours go off the rails for nothing, while others can be genuinely helpful," one reader replied.

Some who chimed in were divided about the letter, with a number calling the threatening letter an offence, while others argued otherwise.

"Keep the letter, that's evidence of an illegal threat. Police *might* be interested," someone suggested.

"It's not an illegal threat. People are legally entitled to catch cats that roam onto their property and to take it to the pound for disposal," someone else replied.

"Whereas OP [original poster] has a legal obligation 'to provide an enclosure and prevent the animal from wandering'. Only one person in OP's scenario is breaking the law, and it's not the letter writer."

Advice to pet owners

Threats to pets and their owners is a common occurrence according to the Australian website The Legal Eagle, which cites a widespread practice of targeting pets with poisoned baits disguised inside of meat or an animal's preferred food type.

"These low life 'neighbours' have a particular pattern to the way they work," the recently retired legal drafter and Legal Eagle founder Mark Bradbury wrote.

"Prior to their act of poisoning, there is always the obligatory nasty note. It's here that you need to take any note threatening retaliation on your animal very seriously, particularly in the weeks immediately following such a note."

Mr Bradbury went on to advise pet owners who encounter such a note to let police know about it, and install cameras around the area where the pet roams and restrict the pet to that location.

"Post a warning sign in a predominant place that your property is being monitored but be vague about where the surveillance device might be," he adds. "And if you can keep the targeted pet inside even better."

"Public parks favoured by dog owners have also become targets for these gutless wonders so ensure you keep your dog on leash if baits have been spotted at your local dog run."

Each state has certain punishments for animal cruelty, Mr Bradbury added in his post.

"The punishments are heavy with jail sentences in the mix," he said, citing that in Queensland, deliberate acts of cruelty to animals carries a maximum of three years imprisonment or a $252,300 fine under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.

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