Shady Baldwin is an animal lover. She owns two cats and volunteers regularly at the Utah Humane Society.
So when she heard a small kitten meowing in front of her Sugar House yard last Thursday as if it were in distress, she immediately went outside to see what was the matter.
Baldwin thought the kitten was cold because of recent rain and took it inside to dry the feline off. As she looked at her skin closer, however, she found what appeared to be burn wounds all over her body.
The kitten's ears, whiskers, tail and feet were all burned possibly from a match or lighter. Her whiskers were almost completely singed off, and her feet and tail were bleeding. The damage to the kitten's ear tips and tail were so severe that Baldwin said they may have to be amputated.
"Really it just made me sick and it broke my heart," Baldwin said.
Because Baldwin already had two cats of her own, she couldn't keep the kitten. She put an add on Craigslist looking for help. Among the many responses of support she received was one from Anne Davis of the Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah.
"How the hell can you singe a creature that was probably purring at (the suspect) and mewing?" asked an angry Davis. "The saddest part is (the kitten) is so sweet. Animals are so forgiving. It hurts."
Davis helped Baldwin take the kitten to the vet, where a person who was just sitting in the lobby and overheard what had happened, paid for the kitten's vet visit. The kitten, which is 3 months old, weighs just a little over 1 pound. The animal was put on some antibiotics and given some pain medication, and Wednesday was listed in good condition.
Davis will let the kitten live with her until she can be adopted out to a good home.
The Animal Alliance was offering a $1,250 reward Wednesday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. That reward was expected to go up with more donations.
"It's sad it takes monetary incentive for a person to do the right thing. But so be it," she said.
The person responsible for burning the kitten could be the first charged under the new Henry's law which makes it a felony to torture companion animals such as dogs and cats.
"If they're willing to do this to an innocent animal who can't fight back, what would they try to do to a human?" Baldwin asked of the type of person who would burn a kitten.
E-mail: [email protected]