In 2018 in a small suburban neighborhood in Dallas, TX, a crime unfolded that caused many to form strong opinions — especially when it comes to the lengths one should go to in order to protect a beloved pet. 47-year-old Mary Harrison shot and killed her husband and told police she did so because he had been beating their family cat, Smokey.
Of course, this sparked a number of debates, reactions and thoughts from those interested in the story. As a result, it can be difficult to remove the sensationalism from the facts. Still, the story itself is heartbreaking, concerning and strange enough on its own.
Mary Harrison and her husband, Dexter, 49, moved into their duplex home only a few months before the incident. Mary explained that her husband frequently abused their family cat and dog, which was a source of contention between them. At one point, Dexter beat Smokey to the point that he ran away.
Neighbors were aware of Mary putting up fliers in the area as she searched for her missing cat. Eventually, a neighbor found Smokey and brought him back to Mary. But this wasn't the end. As soon as the cat returned home, Dexter allegedly resumed his abusive behavior toward him.
As Mary explained, she became fed up with watching her husband abuse her beloved pet. She stated she was also afraid he might start to abuse her, though she did tell police he hadn't done so before. They argued, and when he would not stop harming Smokey, she shot him several times.
Neighbors recalled waking up to see their quiet street lined with police cars. Police stated that the shooting occurred just before 7am in the home the Harrisons shared with their two teenage sons. When police arrived on the scene, they found a mortally wounded Dexter as well as Smokey whose jaw and ribs were badly broken.
Dexter was rushed to the Presbyterian Hospital and was later pronounced dead. Mary was arrested and taken to the Dallas County Jail, her bail set at $100,000. According to police, she waived her Miranda rights and admitted to shooting her husband because of his treatment of their pet.
Smokey, meanwhile, was taken into custody by SPCA of Texas, as was the couple's dog, Summer, who was uninjured when police came to the scene. Maura Davies, spokeswoman for SPCA of Texas, stated the welfare agency would continue to treat Smokey for injuries and house both animals as long as necessary.
Neighbors of the family were interviewed, one of whom, Carl Phillips, told CBS DFW, "I don't know, man. A man getting shot over a cat is kind of crazy." Still, not everyone felt this way. A GoFundMe was created to help Mary post bail after she was taken to jail.
Clearly, emotions run high in a story like this one. But this isn't the only time a person has killed another to protect a beloved pet. In fact, a similar incident occurred in Texas just six years prior to Mary's arrest.
Luckily, Smokey and Summer have both been removed from this volatile situation, and one can hope they have also been rehoused to safe and loving forever homes.