A tip from an animal rights group led to charges against two 14-year-old Marion County, IL girls who posted a video of themselves kicking a cat wrapped in plastic on the popular Web
Girls charged after posting video of cat being abused to MySpace.com
Authorities were alerted to the video by a letter from the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, charging documents indicate.
The nearly two-minute video, which was still up on the Web site Thursday afternoon, shows the girls dropping, shoving and kicking the plastic-wrapped cat, named "Stump," around a room, making comments such as "How does it feel?"
Myspace.com officials could not be reached for comment. The social networking Web site allows users to create their own Web pages. The site is especially popular with teens and young adults.
"Someone saw this video of cat abuse and contacted our organization," said Kristin DeJournett, a cruelty caseworker for PETA based in Memphis, Tenn. "We furnished a memo to the principal and her school and animal control and the prosecutor's office."
PETA learned of the video on April 12 and sent out the notices the next day, DeJournett said.
The cat was removed from the home by Indianapolis animal control officers, according to the prosecutor's office.
Both girls have been released to their mothers pending a trial June 13. Authorities withheld the girls' names because the animal cruelty charge they face would be a misdemeanor if it had involved an adult.
The girls are not allowed to leave their homes unless accompanied by a parent or attending school. They also cannot have contact with animals or one another or use computers unless they are doing schoolwork.
"It's against the law to mistreat animals for any reason," Brizzi said. "These girls may need counseling. This kind of behavior means there could be issues that need to be dealt with before they do something worse."
The cat was in good condition Thursday, said Media Wilson, a spokeswoman for Animal Care & Control.
"Stump is 19 pounds, which is overweight, but is otherwise healthy," she said. "He suffered no lasting damage as a result of the alleged abuse."The cat may be returned to its owner and is not available for adoption, she said. Another cat and a dog were taken from the same residence.
The head of one of the city's oldest animal-protection organizations worries that children who abuse animals can grow up to become people who abuse other people.
"I certainly think that seeing young children involved in animal abuse is a scary thing," said Martha Boden, CEO of the Humane Society of Indianapolis. "The more quickly we can try to help the children, the animals and the family involved, the better."
PETA's DeJournett agreed.
"People who abuse animals rarely stop there," DeJournett said. "It's important that the authorities be involved. If that person is convicted, a judge can order mandatory counseling to deal with the anger. There's a definite link between cruelty to animals and an abuse of people."
By Kevin Corcoran and Kevin O'Neal- The Indianapolis Star