Animal advocates, pet lovers and an international animals rights organization have all joined with Forest Park police to find and bring to justice anyone responsible for a barbaric attack on a kitten that ultimately led to its death.
The kitten, whose name is now Sprouts, was found badly burned in a Forest Park alley back in mid-July. Sprouts was immediately taken to a Chicago shelter and received treatment for his wounds, but he died less than a week later. Since the discovery, the story of the injured kitten has spread like wildfire throughout Forest Park and beyond.
The story has moved people to anger, disgust and finally, action, stated Fleur Dawes, who is communications director with an animal rights organization called In Defense of Animals. She added that the organization is currently offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to charges in the crime.
“Rewards do often result in tips and spur authorities to action and draw attention to egregious cases of animal cruelty where everything else has been tried,” Dawes stated.
Anyone who may have information can contact In Defense of Animals anonymously at 415-448-0048, Lisa Levinson at 215-620-2130 or Forest Park police at 708-615-6299.
The kitten received badly needed treatment for his wounds, but he ended up suffering from a stroke due to the stress of being burned and died on July 19.
Authorities stated they believe Sprout’s injuries were the result of being lit on fire or from having fireworks strapped to his body.
“I have detectives working on it as we speak,” Forest Park Deputy Police Chief Mike Keating stated. “If somebody deliberately set a cat on fire, that’s animal torture. It’s a class 3 felony. It’s a pretty serious charge.”
He went on to say that the case can be frustrating because it has been difficult determining whether Sprouts was set on fire in Forest Park or in a neighboring community.
“We have detectives working on that, trying to contact the person who originally turned the cat in to get to the bottom of the story,” Keating stated. “It’s like any legwork. We want to be able to verify. If it’s not our jurisdiction, we have to turn it over to the proper jurisdiction.”
Sprout’s story caught the attention of Gail Panici and many other animal lovers around the Chicago area, who are assuring everyone that they are campaigning for justice for the 3-month-old kitten.
“I keep thinking we’re in a Third World country,” stated Panici, who lives in Monee and works with an organization that traps and neuters feral cats.
“I can’t believe anybody would do something like that,” she went on to say. “I would like them arrested and to go before a judge. This is not right. Fine them or put them in jail.”
Dawes explained that In Defense of Animals has put out a total of eight rewards in the United States this year asking for information leading to arrest in animal cruelty cases. The organization’s website states that it was founded in 1983 and that it is “an international animal rights and rescue organization dedicated to protecting the rights, welfare, and habitats of animals.”
“One of the big things for us is justice for animals,” Dawes stated. “We’re constantly trying to highlight that animals should be respected and that when they’re abused, there should be sitting punishments in place to prevent the same thing happening to other animals.”
Keating stated there are many questions remaining.
“Everyone here who has a pet thinks it’s horrifying, unless it was an accident, and that’s one of the things we have to figure out — whether the animal was accidentally burned,” Keating states. “Could it have gotten up on a stove? That’s one of the millions of questions we have.”