Charges pending in case of frozen muskrat
Appeal Staff Writer
A Fernley animal control officer will likely be charged with animal cruelty after allegations surfaced that he killed a muskrat by freezing it, instead of having it tested for rabies.
Fernley City Prosecutor Patrick King said he expects charges to be filed against Lee Sheerer by next week.
According to King’s complaint, Sheerer “did willfully, unlawfully and intentionally kill a muskrat by placing it in a freezer and therefore freezing a muskrat to death.”
The live muskrat was turned over last week to Fernley animal control by a pet owner who captured it after it bit his dog. Sheerer was then allegedly directed to take the muskrat to the Lyon County Animal Services. Two days later when they asked for the muskrat so it could be tested, rehabilitated and released into the wild, Sheerer allegedly admitted to freezing it, according to the investigation conducted by Lyon County Animal Services.
King said that after reviewing the investigation, he decided charges were warranted.
“If an animal needs to be killed, it should be done so in the most humane manner possible,” he said. “My decision whether or not a person should be charged is not in any way related to the personnel actions of the city and we are not running joint investigations into the matter.”
King said that after the complaint is filed, Sheerer will receive a summons to appear in court. Misdemeanor first-offense animal cruelty carries a penalty of up to six months in jail.
According to City Manager Gary Bacock, Sheerer – Fernley’s sole, full-time animal control officer – was placed on paid administrative “pending the outcome of the city’s discipline process.”
Sheerer could not be reached for comment.
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.