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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New Jersey Teens' Idea of Fun: Beat Up a Defenseless Kitten and Then Burn It to Death

"(They did it) for fun with intent to kill the cat. I categorize this as a despicable and cowardly act."
-- Pleasantville Police Captain Jose Ruiz

Atlantic City's suburban neighbor Pleasantville is not much of a town. In fact, it is little more than an impoverished, crime-ridden backwater of approximately seventeen-thousand residents. For better or worse, it is Atlantic City without the casinos.

It is therefore not surprising that at around 10 p.m. on September 25th a trio of no-good teenage punks with time on their hands and nothing to do with themselves were prowling the town's mean streets in search of a little action. Unfortunately they soon found their amusement when they stumbled upon a kitten only a few months old.

They first attempted to set it on fire but its fur would not ignite. Undeterred, they placed it inside a bag (See photo above) and tossed it around as if it were a football. They then threw down the bag on the pavement and stomped on the kitten. They next ran over it with a heavy object.

Really feeling their oats by this time, these juvenile monsters even tried unsuccessfully to entice a dog to eat the kitten. Miraculously, it was still alive at this point but the teens quickly put and end to any hope that it had of surviving by dousing it with lighter fluid (See photo below) and setting it on fire.

Neighbor Diane Turanicza (See photo below), who thought that the teens had set a trash can on fire, immediately called the Fire Department. By the time the firemen had arrived, however, the teens had removed the kitten and buried its charred and bloody body behind a house where one of them lived.

It was not until the next morning that an unidentified witness came forward and informed the police that it was a kitten, not trash, that had been set ablaze. The witness also led officers to the home of one of the perpetrators who was then taken into custody. He subsequently confessed to the crime and ratted out his two accomplices in the process.

The cat's remains were dug up by investigators and later collected by the Atlantic County SPCA. The youths were charged with animal cruelty as well as conspiracy and released. Because they are all under eighteen, their names have not been released to the media.

"(They did it) for fun with the intent to kill the cat. I categorize this as a despicable and cowardly act," Pleasantville Police Captain Jose Ruiz told The Press of Atlantic City on September 27th. (See "Three Teenagers in Pleasantville Charged with Beating, Burning a Cat.")

So far no one has come forward to claim the kitten's remains so it is possible that it was homeless. Although its ownership may be debatable, there is no denying that it suffered greatly and died a horrible, excruciating death.

"I feel a lot of pain, I feel sorrow, I know what it went through," Turanicza told NBC-10 of Philadelphia on September 26th. (See "Teens Charged with Setting Kitten on Fire.")

Nancy Beall of the Atlantic County SPCA was justifiably outraged. "I find it hard to believe nobody saw any of this going on and it wasn't reported so this poor cat could be saved," she complained to The Press in the article cited supra. "What a horrible way to die!"

Beall also expressed her desire to see the teens severely punished. "I think they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," she told The Press. "No negotiations."

Although these teenage monsters deserve the gallows, nothing serious is going to happen to them. Adults seldom receive anything more severe than slap-on-the-wrist fines for killing cats and juveniles rarely receive more than a good scolding. The sad truth of the matter is that the life of a cat is not worth very much in either the United States or abroad. (See Cat Defender posts of January 17, 2006 and September 22, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Loony Virginia Judge Lets Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death a Fourteen-Year-Old Arthritic Cat" and "Two New Zealand Teens Douse Three Caged Cats with Glue and Burn Them to Death.")

The kitten burning in Pleasantville is the third high-profile case of animal cruelty to shock southern New Jersey residents in recent years. On May 19, 2003, teenagers Matthew Ronneberg, Thomas Cavanaugh, and Matthew Mercuro broke into the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey Township and beat to death eight exotic birds with shovels, rakes, and a pipe. Despite the horrific nature of their crime, they got off with probation.

On December 22nd of the same year, Robert Hewitt, Jr. and Joseph M. Newton, Jr., both adult employees of Ocean Cable Group in Somers Point, were arrested for dragging a cat to its death behind one of their trucks as they sped down the White Horse Pike from Absecon to Atlantic City. Hewitt drove the lead truck with the cat fastened to its rear bumper while Newton followed behind in his truck allegedly video recording the incident.

These cases highlight the urgent need for legislators to put some teeth into the anti-cruelty statutes by mandating substantial jail time for those who harm animals. Scoldings, fines, and probation have not deterred individuals from harming animals in the past and they will not work in the future either.

As far as juvenile hooligans are concerned, since their parents are totally unwilling to teach them right from wrong they should be confined to their residences by strict curfews. The teens in Pleasantville did not have any more business being out past 10 p.m. on a school night than did their counterparts in Fort Lauderdale who earlier this year beat a homeless man to death. (See Cat Defender post of January 26, 2006 entitled "Blood Sport, Bourgeoisie Style: Fort Lauderdale Teens Murder Homeless Man, Severely Beat Two More with Baseball Bats.")

Photos: NBC-10, Philadelphia.