Kimberly Marsh considers the fatal beating of her pet ferret a hate crime.

Two men police arrested for clubbing Bandit to death with a broom handle and a lawn chair early Sunday morning often harassed her because of her lesbian lifestyle, she said. Ironically, Marsh said, they're the same neighbors who sometimes returned her ferrets when they slipped away from her home at the Pebble Creek Apartments, 750 S. 650 West."I just think this needs to be put out," an angry Marsh said Monday. "What's going to be the next thing?"

Marsh believes the killing was malicious. She said the two men frequently made derogatory comments about her sexual orientation and laughed at her.

Marsh thinks of Bandit, so named for his penchant to swipe and hide the TV remote control, and his housemates - Trouble, Chuckie and Gizmo - as her babies. She said she has a terminal illness and can't have children. Marsh also owns five cats.

Two of the ferrets darted out of Marsh's second-story apartment as she returned home about 2 a.m. Sunday. She was in the middle of taking a head count of her pets when her downstairs neighbor, Tammy Kerkhoff, called.

Kerkhoff said she was awakened by a disturbance outside her window. When she peered out, she said, she saw a man corner an animal behind a bush and strike it 15 to 20 times with a broom handle. Another man swung a lawn chair on the animal, Marsh.

"They broke every bone in his little body," Kerkhoff said.

After Kerkhoff's call, Marsh rushed outside to confront the men. A police officer who had been dispatched to the apartment complex on a disturbance call about an hour earlier arrived about the same time Marsh did.

Bandit, whom Marsh owned for about four years, was still alive when she reached him. "He took a couple of faint breaths and died in my arms," she said.

Police arrested two men in their 30s on suspicion of animal cruelty. A 32-year-old man was booked into the Utah County Jail on a class A misdemeanor while his 31-year-old friend was booked on a class B misdemeanor, according to jail records. Both posted bail and returned home Sunday.

Marsh said it's difficult for people to understand the love she has for her pets. She said she was fired from her job because she wanted time off Monday to mourn and bury Bandit.

"I don't have anybody to wake me up and give me kisses. This was my kid. Nobody understands that," Marsh said.