Laurel police have heightened security in the area around the home of John A. Giannetti Jr., a Democratic candidate for state delegate, after someone shot his cat early yesterday outside his townhouse.
"We're going to beef up patrol in the area," said Jim Collins, spokesman for Laurel police who are investigating.
"We take this incident very seriously," Collins said. "The safety of the community is at stake."
Collins said the cat, in stable condition at Rocky Gorge Animal Center in Laurel, was shot in the chest, apparently by a small-caliber gun or pellet gun. "We're concerned because the bullet or pellet that hit the cat could actually kill a human being," he said.
Giannetti, who is running in District 13B encompassing Laurel and North Laurel, said he doesn't know who might have shot the cat, but he's suspicious because a month ago someone broke into his house and stole hundreds of dollars in jewelry and antiques passed down in his family.
He said he let out his 1-year-old calico cat named Josie about 6 a.m. yesterday in the front yard of his home in the 900 block of Park Ave. It was a morning routine.
About 15 minutes later, while on the phone speaking with a supporter who called to congratulate him on a newspaper endorsement, Giannetti heard Josie meowing.
"I knew something was wrong.
She was meowing so loud, and she could barely walk," he said. "She was panting, and there was blood on her fur.
"I can't believe that someone could do this," said Giannetti, 34, who took the cat to the animal hospital. "Things have definitely gotten too intense when someone comes to your home and shoots your favorite pet."
The lawyer, who serves on the Laurel Board of Appeals and is running against Del. John S. Morgan, a Republican, was quick to say that he doesn't believe that Morgan or anyone affiliated with his campaign was involved in the shooting or burglary.
"I firmly believe that John Morgan had no personal knowledge of these incidents and is not connected to them in any way," Giannetti said. But he said he does believe that the attack was politically motivated.
"I think it's not a coincidence that this happens so close to elections," he said. "People who shoot cats are trying to send a message."
Collins said that it was too soon to determine a motive for the shooting.
"Right now, we don't know if the shooting is politically motivated or if it is a random shooting," Collins said. "But this is a serious crime, and we're investigating to find out if someone is targeting him."
Josie is recovering. Dr. Steven Wolchinsky, a veterinarian at Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital, said the cat will be released in a few days.
Josie "should be OK," Wolchinsky said.
Pub Date: 10/30/98