Cat drowning sheds light, opens eyes to Mo. law

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The spotlight is on Missouri's current animal abuse law after a Metro area man admits he drowned his cat in Lake Waukomis. The Platte County prosecutor says Thomas Newhouse has not violated any law. Newhouse has, however, received a citation and that has outraged many pet owners and animal rights activists.

"I can't believe that's all he got. I think they could probably get some people to look at the law and see if there needs to be changes. I would think there would be consequences for behavior, "says Monica Wilderdyke, who owns three cats.

"That's just sickening. He could've taken the cat to a shelter if he didn't want it. He could've reached out to see if an adoptive organization would take it in," says Marlan Roberts, who works with Spay and Neuter Kansas City.

According to a police report, on July 14, Newhouse, of Shawnee, Kan., admitted to police that he put his "vicious cat" in a carrier and drowned the animal in a Platte County lake.

Investigators say Newhouse said the cat had bitten and scratched his fiancée and his daughter-in-law.

FOX 4 stopped by Newhouse's lakefront home Tuesday for a comment, but no one answered the door.

"I find the manner in which this animal was killed disheartening, but the law says an owner can kill an animal in any way, " says Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd.

"If a person's intent is to cause suffering or pain to an animal, that's still a crime, but in this case the only evidence was that his intent was actually to kill this animal. Even though the animal may have experienced suffering during that killing, the law says an owner cannot be prosecuted, " Zahnd added.

"Thomas Newhouse only got slapped with a misdemeanor, " says an outraged Julie Pendaravis, who helped organize an online petition in hopes of getting the animal abuse law changed and Newhouse prosecuted.

"Thomas Newhouse committed a horrific act of cruelty against a cat in broad daylight in front of kids. We're really hoping he will eventually be charged with a Class D felony," says Pendarvis.

The group has so far collected more than 1,200 online signatures for its petition. Animal rights activists say the cat drowning case has made headlines nationwide and in six countries, including the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Newhouse is expected to go to Lake Waukomis Municipal Court on Aug. 20 to answer to the ticket he received.

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