By SARAH BRADBURY
Heather Steele of Tractor Supply Co. had her cat, Ertl, evicted from the store premises during pet appreciation week, while she was on vacation Aug. 11-18. She said Pulaski Police Chief Gary Roche is the person behind the animal’s removal from its home.
“I didn’t have anything to do with that cat,” said Roche. He said the police department had been receiving numerous false alarm calls.
“This conveniently happened while I was on vacation.” Steele said she believes Roche called their ADT company and discussed alarm calls. She said last fall there was one week when they had an alarm call almost every night, “but the system is so sensitive that anything will set it off,” said Steele. “We’ve had five calls in nine months, which is pretty reasonable.”
Steele says the security system, which includes a laser beam around the property, is extremely sensitive and can be set off by things like the heat coming on, the sign blowing off whenever they change it, or a drastic change in temperature.
“I believe we are the only business in town that uses PE beams. They are very sensitive to weather and I don’t think the town is too used to using them,” said Steele. “They can be set off if a spider crawls across the lens.” Steele says the beams are waist-high, so they are not low enough, in her opinion, for a cat to set off.
“Management told us that temperature and weather were the cause of the alarms,” said Roche. He said he checked with the alarm company, who said they had received no calls since last winter, so they didn’t think weather was the problem. Roche said he mentioned to the alarm company that they had a pet, which he says the alarm company said was probably what was setting off the alarm.
“I don’t know how it could be said that the cat could be setting off the alarm, because he’s not,” said Steele. “He’s our mascot. A lot of our customers, especially the elderly, come in just to see him.” Steele says they are not the only business around that has a cat, and she is not sure why her cat is being targeted when anything, or any animal, could be setting off the alarm.
Steele said she guesses the whole ordeal is because of the laser beams which trigger the alarm. She said she has it documented that the ADT company had to come out and scrape ice off the lenses this January when it snowed. “There’s raccoons and everything else out here,” said Steele, explaining that any animal could be the culprit.
The cat is now living in her garage and “very unhappy because he is used to having 2000 square feet.” Steele says she’s afraid to let him out because she knows he will run off. “I don’t know how it is that he’s being blamed, but we do want him to come back.” Steele says she’s sure the ordeal has been very stressful for her cat.
Roche said it would be one thing if the cat had been put into a room or a crate on the loading dock overnight, and not just freely roaming around. He said he never even knew about the cat until he got the false alarm calls.
Steele said Roche never called her and she felt that if he had a problem, she would have liked for him to come to her first. She assumed she would have heard from the police directly if anything had been wrong.
Steele said the customers definitely didn’t mind Ertl being in the store and she said she has even heard there is a petition circulating. “Everybody misses him,” said Steele.