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Saturday, Dec 20, 2008County: Brooks
Charges: Felony CTA
Case Images: 2 files available
Alleged: Cory Ward
Case Updates: 2 update(s) available
Veterinarians in two states are working to save the lives of a pair of kittens that were tortured with fireworks and set ablaze near their owner's rural South Georgia home, an attack that has horrified detectives and animal lovers.
Little Jim, an 8-month-old, gray-and-white tabby, suffered third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body. He was in "very critical" condition Wednesday at the University of Florida Veterinary Medical Center in Gainesville, said veterinarian Amanda Hall of Baytree Animal Hospital in Valdosta.
"Little Jim needs multiple skin grafts and surgeries," Hall said.
Hall transferred the kitten to the widely respected veterinary medical center. She keeps tabs on Little Jim's condition via daily telephone calls to his doctors. They are keeping him in a medically induced coma to control the excruciating pain as he is treated, she said.
Little Jim's sister, Blackie, sustained third-degree burns on her feet, belly, face and head. Hall had to amputate a portion of Blackie's ears because the burns were so severe. Blackie continues to recover at the animal hospital, she said.
"These are two very sweet and affectionate kitties. They are dearly loved by their owner, and none of us can understand why someone would do this," Hall said.
Hall was on call Dec. 20 when the kittens' owner, Jim Ragan, who lives 5 miles away in neighboring Brooks County, rushed them to Baytree. The kittens had managed to make their way home to Ragan despite their injuries, she said.
Two days later, one of Ragan's neighbors brought in his kitten that also had been severely burned like Little Jim and Blackie. Fluffy, a 4-month-old long-haired kitten, was so badly injured that Hall had to euthanize her the following day.
Hall believes a sparkler or Roman candle was inserted in the cats' rectums and they were doused with lighter fluid and set on fire.
"It's just horrific," she said.
Ragan couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday. An automated telephone message stated his voice mailbox was full and couldn't accept any messages.
Investigation under way
Sgt. Keith Anderson of the Brooks County Sheriff's Office, the lead investigator, said it was the worst animal cruelty case the Sheriff's Office has encountered in recent memory. No arrests have been made, though Anderson said police have "a couple of suspects."
Whoever did it will be charged with three counts of felony animal cruelty, each punishable by one to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine, he said.
There haven't been any prior animal cruelty cases reported in the area off Troupville Road near the Brooks-Lowndes County line, where the kittens were burned, Anderson said.
"This indicates a deeply disturbing problem that could lead to other things even worse," Anderson said. He noted animal cruelty often leads to escalating acts of violence.
A $500 reward is being offered by the Sheriff's Office and Brooks County Humane Society for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever did it, authorities said.
A strong will to live
Hall said Little Jim has "lost a lot of skin" because of the burns and needs extensive care as he recovers. Blackie should be well enough to go home next week, if her feet continue to heal, she said.
"Both these cats are such troupers. Little Jim wants to eat, and he purrs whenever they wake him up," Hall said. "Blackie purrs and wants to be loved and love on you."
Hall said she would have euthanized both if she hadn't believed that they had a strong will to live, and had a good chance at recovery.
"They're fighters and deserve a chance," she said.
Hall estimated Little Jim's treatment has cost $5,000 already. His care may add up to $15,000 or more before he is released from the medical center, she said.
St. Francis Ministries, a nonprofit humane animal welfare organization in Lowndes County, is collecting contributions to help Ragan pay for the kittens' medical care. The group has collected "a couple hundred dollars" so far, but is planning a cookout fundraiser and silent auction to attract contributions, said Eleanor Parten, co-chairwoman of the organization.
"That someone could do this to innocent animals, it's just unthinkable," Parten said. "We want to do what we can to help them."
Hall hopes making the kittens' plight public will prompt tips leading to the arrest of whoever hurt them.
"They need all our help," she said.
|Brooks County Sheriff Mike Dewey announced today the arrest of Cory Ward, 17, of Brooks County for Aggravated Cruelty to Animals in the death of two cats and the disfiguration of a third cat in the area of Eagle Run Trailer Park. Ward was taken into custody at approximately 12:30 p.m. today and is to appear before Brooks County Magistrate Judge Joyce Miskiel this afternoon for arraignment.|
On December 20, 2008, Jim Ragan found two cats that were severely burned. Both cats were taken to Baytree Animal Hospital. On December 22, 2008, Mr. Ragan found a third cat that had also been burned and had two broken legs.
Two of the cats – "Fluffy" and "Little Jim" were taken to the University of Florida Veterinary Hospital where they later died. Blackie continues to improve at home with surgery scheduled in the next few weeks.
"After extensive investigation and follow-up on leads provided to us by concerned citizens we were able to solve this case," stated Sheriff Mike Dewey. "We appreciate the many individuals who came forward with information and offers to help with the medical costs and the reward money," the Sheriff continued.
"Individuals who commit such heinous acts as the burning of these innocent animals, if not caught and held accountable for these acts may go on to commit more serious crimes in the future." Dewey further stated.
Aggravated Animal Cruelty is a felony and carries a penalty of 1 – 5 years and a maximum fine of $15,000 plus restitution. Currently medical costs for the treatment of "Fluffy", "Little Jim" and "Blackie" is approximately $16,000.
|Source: WCTV - Feb 2, 2009|
Update posted on Feb 3, 2009 - 1:39PM
|The Brooks County Sheriff's Office is now offering a monetary reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for burning three cats over the weekend of December 20, 2008.|
Also, the pet owner is asking the public to donate money because the medical bills for these felines is growing and he does not have the funds to finance their medical needs.
"If it wasn't for St. Francis and Dr. Hall, we probably would have had to put all three of them down because it's probably going to be between $15,000 and $20,000 to treat them and I don't have the money to put that much into it," said Jim Ragan, owner of the two surviving burnt cats.
"Contact the police or contact us, you know you don't have to leave your name just kinda give us a little synopsis of what's going on or what you've seen," said Karen Gunter, co-chair of the St. Francis Ministry for Animals.
To donate money for the care of the injured felines please contact Karen at St. Francis at:
To contact the Brook's County Sheriff's Office, call 229-263-7558. Or, if you wish to write in an anonymous tip, log on to the county's Web site at: www.brooks-county.org
All emails and tips will remain anonymous and confidential.
|Source: WCTV - Jan 1, 2009|
Update posted on Jan 3, 2009 - 5:31PM
- Jacksonville News - Jan 2, 2009
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