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NC House of Representatives, Thomasville City Council: Enforce stronger punishment on animal abusers.

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Heaven was born on March 27, 2012, one of three kittens born to my calico, Tosca. She was a beautiful Dilute Tortoiseshell with a loving personality, who loved to play with her family, including my two young children. She was patient, playful, happy, and very sweet. We all loved her very much, and she was quite literally, part of the family.

Some time on Thursday, July 12, 2012....she was brutally beaten and drowned by a small group of disturbed neighborhood kids in a creek behind my property. We weren't home at the time. We arrived home around 9:30pm...noticing that she wasn't at the door as usual, waiting to come inside. We didn't think much of it, and assumed she would be begging at the door soon. Around 10pm, we got a knock on our door.

Two boys from our neighborhood were standing on the porch when we opened the door, asking if we had a small grey kitten. I immediately got the idea that something was wrong, and stepped out onto the porch. Initially, I had thought maybe there had been an accident, or maybe someone was just wondering if she was a stray. I was so wrong. What they told me next nearly caused me to faint. I was informed that a small group of 4-5 boys( all between the ages of 9-13) had chased down and beaten my precious kitten, visciously mutilating our beloved baby. She was pelted with rocks, stompled on, held up by her tail, swung like a lasso, and thrown over a fence, where they punched and kicked her mercilessly, before ultimately holding her under water in the creek at the public park by our home. They left her limp little body on the cold, sandy bank, like a broken toy.

A young boy from a few houses down, upon hearing commotion outside, learned about what had happened, and rushed to her aide, scooping her up in a towel, and carrying her drenched little body to a neighbor's house, who then rushed her to an emergency vet. Upon examining her, it was decided that she would not recover, and they decided that the humane decision would be to euthenize her. She was only 3 and a half months old.
They had also called the police, and an officer responded on the scene to make a report. No one knew for certain who's kitten she was at this time.

They informed me that the main culprit was a 10 year old boy, who had recently moved in beside us. I immediately went to knock on the door. The response I recieved was an aggravated voice on the other side, asking who I was, and what I wanted. When I announced my identity and my intent, a woman answered the door, obviously in defense mode. I explained to her that I had just been informed that her son had attacked my kitten, and that the police were on their way, again. I also explained to her that whoever was found to be responsible would have charges pressed against them. She continuously denied that her son had anything to do with it, despite what the other kids were saying. She showed absolutely no remorse for what had happened, nor did she seem bothered by the idea that her son might have been involved. Unbeknownst to me at the time, she had already spoken to the officer who had responded before, and had admitted to her son's participation in the horrific event. Yet still, she seemed unconcerned.

I filed charges, which ultimately led to the officer filing a petition to the Juvenile Court Council, and I was informed that it would be up to them whether or not they would take the case. I was in a state of shock. How could a child so young be so violent and evil? Why didn't his parent's feel concerned, or even know where their son was, or what he was doing?

At 8am on Friday, July 13, 2012, I retrieved Heaven's body from Thomasville Veterinary Hospital. The staff was, as a whole, absolutely mortified when I told them what had happened. They had been under the impression that she had been attacked by a dog, by the extent of her wounds. I was allowed to take her body with me, and was graciously spared any costs associated with her treatment and care. They were all very thoughful and discreet, and even allowed me some time to grieve over her in private. They had wrapped her in a soft fabric, and had her name and a little heart drawn over where her heart would be. I sat in my friend's car, clutching her little body tightly, and bawled my eyes out. My heart broke. This was the same kitten that would greet me every morning with kisses and purrs. The same kitten that would follow us around the house, and rub against our legs, give us little head butts for attention, and was constantly in our laps, purring as loud as she could. I don't think I remember her ever not purring. My children played with her every day, as did I and my boyfriend. We have all been affected by this. Not only have we lost a dear and beloved pet and family member, but to such a gruesome and undeserved violence....and at the hands of children!

Our worlds have been forever changed...and I hope that this page changes many lives as well. My goal is to raise awareness toward animal cruelty, as well as the importance of teaching your children to respect living things, and to be compassionate and kind. This was not a violent or aggravated animal that could or would cause harm to someone. This was a loving, peaceful, happy, playful, wonderful young kitten....and she was like a child to me. There is no pricetag you can place on what we have lost. There is no amount of solace or restitution that can take away the pain we are feeling, or the holes in our home and our hearts. She can never be replaced, and she will never be forgotten.

The case is continued to November 27, with the intent of filing full felony charges against the juveniles involved. I believe the parents should be held accountable for the actions of their children, as well.

I realize that animal cruelty of this caibur is already a Class H Felony (in the state of NC), but there are so many loopholes that make it difficult to get proper justice. I would like several things to happen that would protect pets and their owners, and hopefully push parents to take more responsibility for their minor children as well:

1. Minors found guilty of a Felony crime should be required to seek mental help appropriate for the type of crime, as well as some form of community service/punishment (working at an animal shelter, scared straight program, juvenile detention) for a period of time that is also appropriate for the crime committed. I'm not insinuating that these minors should be incarcerated, but they should be disciplined more than just a tap on the wrist. If the parents won't do it, it is the duty of the community and state, and these children will continue to behave this way, as long as they know they can get away with it. The parents/guardians of these children should also be required to submit to an evaluation, to determine if there are underlying factors in the home that may be contributing to the child's behavior.

2. Parents of minors committing a felony crime should also be held responsible for the actions of their minor child, if it is found that the crime resulted from negligence, lack of supervision, or encouragement from the parent/guardian. These parents should incur fines and penalties appropriate for the crime committed as well. Monetary fines may encourage parents to be more active in their parenting, so as not to incur said fines.

3. Family pets should no longer be categorized as "property" in the legal system, but rather as "companion animals". This would allow owners to claim a higher value for their loss, regardless of the animal's species, pedigree, gender, or age. This would hopefully allow the owners of abused pets to claim restitution for loss of a companion (not just property), and emotional distress. The ability of owners to sue for higher amounts will make a more lasting impression on the offender. Whereas a person may be less inclined to be worried about legal implications, most people are much more concerned about financial obligations. Our pets mean much more to us than their monetary value, and this should be reflected in our courts.

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