Reward money of more than $50,000 from around the world has been raised to help investigators in Clearfield, Utah find information related to the gruesome torture and subsequent death of a beloved family pet. The animal, a six-year-old cat named Sage, was found badly beaten on March 8, with broken paws and ribs, eyes swollen shut and whiskers cut. The gray and white tabby succumbed to his injuries on March 9.
“They broke his ribs, his little toes, beat his face, glued his eyes shut, tried to glue his penis and anus shut, burned him with hot glue and put silicone on him,” said Debbie Barnes, president of the <a href=”http://www.humanesocietyofnorthernutah.com/”>Humane Society of Northern Utah</a>, in a news release. “This is the worst abuse case I have ever seen.”
Stacey Frisk, executive director of the <a href=”http://www.cachehumane.org/”>Cache Humane Society</a>, hopes whomever attacked Sage so savagely is quickly brought to justice.
“Anyone who works with animals, who loves animals, is absolutely horrified by what happened to Sage, and we are thrilled to see that the reward has grown to be so large,” she said. “Hopefully that’s enough to inspire someone to come forward. I believe that the perpetrator probably has some friends or family that knows what happened. It’s unfortunate they haven’t come forward at this point, but I do hope that the reward is enough to motivate them.”
As the Humane Society of Northern Utah continues to accept <a href=”http://www.humanesocietyofnorthernutah.com/copy-of-donate”>donations</a> on Sage’s behalf, a prepared statement on a memorial page posted for the animal reads, “Though many people feel the reward is “excessive” for an animal abuse case, there is a proven link between abusing an animal and domestic abuse, or worse. The individual(s) involved are in need of counseling, before the problem increases, potentially involving people.”
Cruelty to animals is a serious crime in Utah, with “torture” defined by <a href=”https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title76/Chapter9/76-9-S301.html”>Utah Code</a> as “intentionally or knowingly causing or inflicting extreme physical pain to an animal in an especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or exceptionally depraved manner.” The Humane Society of the United States documented the connection between animal abuse and human violence in an extensive <a href=”http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/qa/cruelty_violence_connection_faq.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/”>2011 report</a>, citing the correlation between animal cruelty and subsequent violent crimes. Julie Hatch, a volunteer with <a href=”http://awos.petfinder.com/shelters/4paws.html”>Four Paws Rescue</a> isn’t surprised.
“Things like this happen more than people know,” she said. “To me, the kind of thing that happened to that poor kitty reflects our society. This goes much deeper than trying to protect animals by, for example, keeping them inside. We have to eliminate the underlying evil. We have to teach children to respect life.”
As the torture Sage endured continues to gain international attention, Frisk agrees that the key to keeping similar crimes from happening in Cache Valley is education.
“I think reaching out to the young generation is a great way to make sure we’re building a community that’s compassionate toward animals,” Frisk said. “Education is crucial. Also, we encourage people who do see things that concern them to contact their local animal control jurisdiction.”
For <a href=”https://www.utahhumane.org/our-programs/investigation/what-humane-society-utah-can-handle”>concerns outside the scope of animal control</a>, the Cache Humane Society refers community members to the <a href=”http://www.utahhumane.org/”>Humane Society of Utah</a>, which employs a full-time animal cruelty investigator. In circumstances like the torture of Sage, law enforcement also becomes involved.
From a preventive standpoint, the Cache Humane Society offers <a href=”http://www.cachehumane.org/get-involved/education-programs/”>after school clubs and summer camps</a> designed to help children understand the responsibilities involved with pet ownership. Children and families can also learn more about animal stewardship through local <a href=”http://extension.usu.edu/cache/4-H/”>4-H clubs</a>, and through programming offered at places like <a href=”http://logannature.org/”>Stokes Nature Center</a> and <a href=”https://willowparkzoo.wixsite.com/home”>Zootah at Willow Park</a> (formerly Willow Park Zoo).
With kitten season approaching, both Hatch and Frisk want to make the public aware that cats face increased vulnerability for abuse and neglect when shelters are full and there aren’t enough homes for placement of kittens.
“As a no-kill shelter, when we’re full, we’re full,” said Frisk. “People will be bringing in boxes with kittens several times a week, and they must be turned away. Unfortunately, that leaves people with few options…and some people do, then, take a less humane approach to dealing with the litters of kittens they find.”
Sharing stories of kittens being abandoned, starved and even thrown from moving vehicles, local animal activists plead with the public to spay and neuter pets.
“This would eliminate so much of the needless suffering for so many homeless pets,” said Hatch. “Animals are mistreated too often, and it’s hard to understand. We can’t have such a cavalier attitude. Even though what happened to Sage is a most horrific example, there are a lot of animals suffering out there.”