An anonymous animal advocate from Pass Christian has offered a $1,000 reward to help Moss Point police secure witnesses and a conviction in the case of a cat that died after being scalded.
Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence has also announced his office has received “many calls from concerned citizens” about the investigation.
“What is depicted in the video (posted on Facebook) is disturbing and cruel,” Lawrence said. He assured the county and the Coast that “this matter will be taken seriously and handled in accordance with the law.”
Lawrence said Moss Point police have been collecting evidence in an investigation and keeping the District Attorney’s Office briefed.
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“My office will assist with this investigation and, once completed, the results of the same will be presented to a Jackson County grand jury,” Lawrence said in a statement to the media.
Under Mississippi law, a conviction when “a person with malice shall intentionally torture, mutilate, maim, burn, starve or disfigure any domesticated dog or cat, or cause any person to do the same,” carries a fine of up to $2,500 and six months in jail. A person convicted of a second offense of aggravated animal cruelty within five years can be sentenced to 1 to 5 years.
The $1,000 reward being offered is for the arrest and conviction of the party or parties involved in scalding a black-and-white cat they had trapped in a cat trap, which is a fairly small cage. The video appears to have originally been posted to Snapchat, then filmed from there and posted on Facebook.
In it, a man talks to the cat and moves the cage with his foot. Someone else splashes hot liquid from a pot at the caged cat that scrambles wildly trying to escape. At the end of the video, the pot is emptied on top of the cage.
The video went viral quickly.
In a Facebook reply to a Gulfport woman asking what happened to the cat, the Moss Point woman who apparently made the video said: “The cat is alive n ok. I let the damn cat go ...”
But it wasn’t OK. Police, who located the house where the video took place, found the cat in a nearby vacant lot a day later. Even though Moss Point Commander Stacey Deans said it appeared to be a pet, Animal Control officers couldn’t catch it and it spent Dec. 13 under a house. On the morning of Dec. 14, an animal rescue worker went under the house and brought the cat out dead. An necropsy determined it died of burns over most of its body.
The Pass Christian man who posted the reward said the case has bothered him from the first time he heard of it.
“I might be paying for it,” he said, “but at least we’ll find out who did this.”