Blow dart claims life of cat, presents animal cruelty case in Ames

Frances Myers

It was by fate that Valerie Stallbaumer decided to take a different walking path late one evening when she found her neighbor’s beloved pet cat struggling in the driveway at 218 E. Ninth St.

Stallbaumer, a resident of Crawford Avenue, was walking to the gas station from her house one night when she decided to take a roundabout route to Ninth Street. There, she found her neighbor, Ron Carson’s cat, Star, struggling to make its way to the front door of Carson’s house.

“I thought maybe it had been hit by a car,” Stallbaumer said. “I found it in the driveway a little before 8. A neighbor had seen it in the driveway around 6:30, and then another neighbor was walking by with his dog, it turns out, just a few minutes before I found it, and then I was going on a walk, and I found it. It was trying to get to the house. It kept struggling to walk; it would get up and kept falling forward.”

Stallbaumer picked the cat up and went to the house next door, alerting the neighbors to what had happened. They took the cat to Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. It was while carrying Star that Stallbaumer realized the cat had not been hit by a car but, rather, had been shot by a blow dart.

“At first I didn’t notice anything because I had lifted the cat up from behind … but as I was carrying it, I saw its chest and saw a little orange cone-shaped thing sticking out of it’s chest. I pulled on it a little bit and saw the shaft,” Stallbaumer said. “When we got to the medical school, the veterinarian said its heart had stopped and there was nothing they could do.”

When they got to the hospital, the cat was pronounced dead.

“The blow dart had penetrated its lung,” said Lorna Lavender, director of Ames’ animal shelter and animal services.

Stallbaumer said the dart was a mini broadhead dart shot from a Big Bore Blowgun with a shaft about four inches in length.

When the cat was found, Carson was at work. Stallbaumer and the neighbors tried multiple times to reach Carson on the phone. Finally, they got in contact with him and he rushed to the hospital.

“I felt so bad when Ron came out to the vet and there was me holding it dead. All he saw was me holding this pathetic, poor thing. He was just in shock,” Stallbaumer said. “It was a very affectionate, very pretty cat, so that just makes it even sadder. Ron has about three cats. One is his daughter’s and another one they’ve had for a while, but Star, Star was his cat.”

Carson could not be reached for comment.

An investigation was started as soon as Carson and his neighbors got back home. Animal control was called and everyone took pictures, making sure to document everything.

“We do not know who shot the cat yet, but we are still looking and anyone who has any information leading to who did it is encouraged to call 515-231-1080,” Lavender said. “A reward is being offered.”

Lavender said this is believed to be an isolated case.

Stallbaumer was vocal about her discontent with what happened.

“It is pretty disturbing that someone is just out there playing around with blowguns and would shoot an innocent animal. That just shows no compassion, and they’re taking it out on someone’s pet.”