CONNEAUT — More than 60 people staged a peaceful protest Tuesday morning, wearing t-shirts and carrying signs saying “No excuse for abuse,” “Justice for Callum,” “Say NO to animal cruelty” and more.
The demonstration began at 8:30 a.m. with about 50 people on the sidewalk in front of Conneaut Municipal Court, where Robert Nadolny, 57, of Conneaut, was scheduled to make his first court appearance.
Nadolny faces two animal cruelty charges after police say he shot an orange tabby cat, named Callum by his rescuers, with an arrow in the throat and shoulder July 23. The cat returned July 26, with the arrow protruding through his body.
Nadolny is charged with felony prohibition concerning companion animals and a misdemeanor prohibition concerning companion animals, according to Law Director Kyle Smith’s office.
One of Nadolny’s charges was raised from a misdemeanor to a fifth-degree felony, thanks to Goodard’s Law, signed into law in June 2016. The law is named for legendary Fox 8 TV weatherman, Dick Goddard, and his long-time effort to protect pets. Goodard died Tuesday at age 89.
Sara Maddox, founder of Maddox and Friends Cat Rescue in Conneaut, organized Tuesday’s demonstration. She was responsible for taking Callum to an Akron veterinary hospital on July 26 to have the arrow removed.
While on the road to recovery, Callum’s owners came forward and said his name was “Tigger” and they lost him during a move from Conneaut to Ashtabula. They surrendered the cat’s care to Maddox, who raised donations of more than the $5,000 needed to pay the cat’s medical bills.
Maddox said she was thrilled that so many people showed up in support of Callum, who she brought in a cat carrier in the back of her vehicle for demonstrators to see.
“This turnout is wonderful,” she said. “I’m so pleased; this is amazing.”
Jo Evvs of Pierpont said she’s a “cat person” and came to support Callum.
Terrie Krotine of Saybrook Township wore an arrow around her neck.
“It’s to the point,” she said.
Maddox led the group, which swelled to more than 60 people by Nadolny’s court appearance at 10 a.m., in chants as motorists honked their horns and gave the crowd thumbs ups.
Nadolny entered the courthouse with his attorney, Samuel Altier, through a back door, avoiding the crowd out front. Maddox was allowed to attend the hearing. Everyone else waited outside.
During the hearing, Nadolny entered two “not guilty” pleas — one for the misdemeanor and one for the felony charges. Before setting bond, Municipal Judge Nicholas Iarocci asked Nadolny if he owned any companion animals. Nadolny said he did not.
Iarocci set a $25,000 personal recognizance bond with the condition Nadolny “has no contact with companion animals based on the allegations,” he said.
The court set Nadolny’s preliminary hearing for 1 p.m. Aug. 17.
Altier declined further comment.
Outside, Marie Richards of Conneaut waited for Nadolny to exit the courthouse.
“What this man did is abhorrent,” she said. “[Animals] feel hurt and pain like we do.”
Nadolny couldn’t avoid the demonstrators on the way out of the courthouse, but the group remained present but peaceful.